Read an Excerpt of Katherine Anne Porter’s Flu Novel

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One hundred thirty years ago, on May 15, 1890, Katherine Anne Porter—Texan, journalist, novelist—was born.

Her generation lived through many things, and yet American fiction from her peers—perhaps a bit exhausted from having to chronicle World War I—does not mention (at least explicitly) the 1918 influenza epidemic much. Her collection of three short novels, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, is the most famous example. For some readers, ordering books might be a challenge. Or maybe your local library and stores are simply out of stock. Way back in 2006, Alice McDermott bemoaned the lack of Porter, and the “low demand” sticker taped to a copy of one of her books.

Don’t fret. The New York Review of Books has helpfully uploaded an excerpt to its website. It even has a nice paragraph introduction from Elizabeth Hardwick on Porter’s “clear, fluent, almost untroubled” style. Oh, also don’t fret: The excerpt ends on a chipper note. The last paragraph begins, “No more war, no more plague…”

Perhaps put on the tunes of another birthday haver: Brian Eno. I recommend sinking into Porter’s writing with his heavenly, ambient “Reflection.”

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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