You are now entering Land of Spoilers and Criticism

Stuff on this blog:

  • Personal and professional biases, without full disclosure
  • Spoilers, with and without warnings
  • Unpleasantness, with and without warnings

On memory

“After Sara Meyer’s husband died of an aneurism during the preparations for their son’s tenth birthday party, Sara memorised Hamlet, a list of the hundred most endangered animal species worldwide, and a substantial portion of the Quran. Anna, on the other hand, recently had trouble distinguishing the number six from the number nine, and it seemed like only a matter of time before the letters of the alphabet lost their distinctiveness, and p, b and d were used interchangeably. The phrase ‘Happy Birthday’ would be unwritable. Sometimes in the mornings, in the minute after she first woke, she thought that she had lost a son, and suffered deep spasms of grief before she remembered that she had never had a son and had never wanted one.”

—“The Good Citizens,” by Christy Edwall (x)

Narrative hypertext game: “Queers in Love at the End of the World”

“Queers in Love at the End of the World,” by anna anthropy

Play here or here

10 seconds long

A cool piece of flash fiction, compressed in time as well as in word count. Within that constraint, it manages to be romantic, erotic, and/or philosophical.

I suppose short story writers want to do both

“Novelists want to flood, poets want to distill.”

—J. D. McClatchy (x)

On taste

“Taste is the expression of the pleasure a person takes in his own inner perplexities and satisfactions.”

—J. D. McClatchy (x)

Short story: “The Good Life of an Incidental Character”

“The Good Life of an Incidental Character,” by Paul Noonan

Appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine Vol. 8 No.2 (Oct. 2015), found in the PDF sample for that issue

91 words


Short story: “Origami Gorilla”

“Origami Gorilla,” by Jonathan Cardew

Appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine Vol. 9 No.1 (April 2016), found in the PDF sample for that issue

323 words

A neat short piece.

I think the last line is spoken by Janine, but the lack of paragraph break is confusing.


“I often say to myself that I am going to really study a story I love, really figure out just how it operates, but somehow I never get down to it. The story itself, when it’s sublime, keeps me away from its own inner workings. Watching people play baseball has similarly not improved my own game.”

—Ben Marcus (x)

On how to write stories

“Any specific, actionable insights I gain about how to write stories are woefully unstable. And disposable. A kind of single-use set of ideas that, in the end, might apply to a specific story I’m working on, but no more. In the end it’s hugely humbling to complete a short story thinking that I’ve figured something out, only to find that those ways of working and thinking are useless for a new story. You have to solve for x again, every single time.”

—Ben Marcus (x)

He goes on to say something even better:

“But I believe I do fumble along with a story looking to rouse myself somehow—you know, tying off the arm and squeezing the liquid in, seeing if there’s some part of the brain or heart I haven’t scraped before. I guess I’m stirring sentences together and sampling them, seeing how they make me feel. I am trying to notice if I can lock, or unlock, a certain kind of gravity, or levity, in the language—whatever feels right. All of this sadly presumes that what strikes or moves me, what makes me laugh or feel horrified, will do something similar to others—and this cannot be counted on. This is always a terrible realization to have, the sheer indulgence of the whole enterprise, the way it necessitates a reckless assertion of deeply subjective stuff, along with the hope that others might be wired as I am. I do know that attempting to entertain other people based on some guess of what they will like—when they are ultimately unknowable—has always backfired. So the whole thing amounts to a performance I put on for myself, while also heckling and grumbling from the audience, calling out fraudulence, demanding revisions.”

On submitting writing for publication

“I think of submitting as being about developing the habit of continuing on, despite adverse reactions. Sometimes, when you don’t believe in yourself, when nothing is selling, when you’re not getting a positive notice from any quarter, the only thing that’s left to you is habit. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, the habit of writing and the habit of submitting can carry you through to a better place.”

—Rahul Kanakia (x)

Short story: “The Child Runs Away”

“The Child Runs Away,” by Craig Morgan Teicher

Appeared in AGNI Online, August, 2016

606 words

I like this.

“For what is love if not an invitation to grieve?”