Short story: “The Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall”

“The Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall,” by Mat Coward

Appeared in Crimewave 13: Bad Light, May 11th, 2018

A few thousand words

This is pretty funny. The main point-of-view character (spoilers) dying off towards the end works nicely because the narration feels rather distant from him even as it’s third-person limited. I think it’s the way the humor of the situation goes over the characters’ heads that establishes that distance.


Flash fiction story: “One Night Stand”

“One Night Stand” (shouldn’t that be hyphenated?), by Cameron Bryce

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few hundred words

A charmingly surreal piece with great pacing. Kind of in the tradition of “The Swimmer,” though what it really reminds me of is “Going for a Beer,” naturally enough—I mean, not just because of the beer.

Short story: “The Girls”

“The Girls,” by Megan Taylor

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few thousand words

A good nightmare, as are many Neon stories. I can sympathize with that adult fear of teenagers, those menacing no-longer-children, too-cool-for-grownups aliens.

Short story: “Incorporated”

“Incorporated,” by Simon K. Brown

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few thousand words

I like this. Neon fiction tends to have this distinctive style: darkly realistic details that persist through increasing surrealism.

The title seems to have a double meaning, referring to the way the main character and others get incorporated into their workplace. Maybe that’s obvious, but it took me a minute. (I was distracted by my association of the word with physical embodiment.)

Short story: “Mirror Ball”

“Mirror Ball” or “Mirrorball,” by Mary Gaitskill

Appeared in Index (a magazine I can’t seem to track down online); collected in Don’t Cry: Stories (2009, Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.); featured on the Knopf Doubleday site on April 24th, 2009

7,474 words

Fascinating. There’s so much abstraction, and yet the story comes through as vivid and urgent. Lots of imagery to keep it grounded.

Gaitskill seems to have a remarkable view of sex, and a remarkably dark view of casual sex and sex work. Perhaps she believes sex should be confined to stable relationships because it’s so dangerous emotionally (or rather, according to the worldbuilding of this story, spiritually). Pardon me for speculating about the author, but it’s hard to resist when the theme runs so unmistakably through other stories of hers, like “The Agonized Face.” It’s an attitude that overlaps with the puritanical, though the rawness, frankness, and intensity of her work is far from it.

How strange that this young woman (“girl”) is saved by an encounter with a homeless-looking man and by her rather inappropriate, desperate phone call. How wonderful that this young man (“boy,” thank goodness for gender parity—perhaps they are so called because of their innocent foolishness, their ignorance of the nature of souls) answers his phone when he has good reason not to.

Flash fiction story: “Greased Lightnin'”

“Greased Lightnin’,” by Meghan Phillips

Appeared in Pidgeonholes, June 2018

181 words

I like the line “Just like the real thing.”

And of course I like the erotic car imagery. Amazing how impressionable kids’ minds and sexualities seem to be.

Short story: “We Will Be All Right”

“We Will Be All Right,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Appeared in Lightspeed (read and listen), issue 96, May 2018

940 words

Another rather literary plot from Lightspeed. I like it. The whole thing takes place internally, with a lot of exposition, but never gets slow.

Short story: “Stitching Time”

“Stitching Time,” by Stephanie Burgis

Appeared in Grendelsong: Autumn 2015

Maybe 3,000 words?

Interesting. Mental health practitioners are always a rich vein for horror and creepiness, perhaps even more so than mental illness itself. Something about the intimacy of their authority over their patients.

Short story: “Bloodletting”

“Bloodletting,” by Melanie Rees

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6

Maybe 2,000 words?

I liked this one.

Short story: “Birthday Boy”

“Birthday Boy,” by Amy Lukavics

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6 (it’s the first story in the issue)

Maybe 3,000 words? I’m hopeless at estimating these things

Clever, and the mother’s emotional arc feels believable, at least to me. Of course, the story cheats by withholding information that the point-of-view character knows, but I think it gets away with it.