The Paris Review

Fecund Sounds Like a Swear

In this series on the summer solstice, which will run every Friday through June 21, Nina MacLaughlin wonders what summer’s made of.

MAX PECHSTEIN, Ein Sonntag, 1921

The delights of summer are earthly. An older friend lives for pleasure. Just north of sixty, with a thin ponytail and a thick mustache, he does seasonal work, landscaping, collects unemployment in the winter, and pursues the perfect high. After a knee injury, beers and hallucinogens gave way to pain pills. “I’ll die of terminal boyhood,” he tells me.

Another friend floods me with her schedule, her work, her workouts, this kid at soccer practice, that kid at gymnastics, the new dog needs walking, the groceries do not buy themselves, sixty hours at her job, thirty in her car to-ing and fro-ing. “Usually I’ve reached over ten-thousand steps by seven in the morning,” she tells me.

When we were high school, in

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