Short story: “The Forgetting”

“The Forgetting,” by Leah Cypess

Appeared in Daily Science Fiction, February 14th, 2018

894 words

This is awesome, and not all that far-fetched. I love the last line.


Flash fiction story: “A Memory of the Christ by the Apostle John”

“A Memory of the Christ by the Apostle John,” by Adam McOmber

Appeared in The Collagist, December 2017

462 words

A vision of an uncaring God, and a miserable Heaven? A tastefully blasphemous story.

Short story: “A Visit”

“A Visit,” by Steven Millhauser

Appeared in the New Yorker, August 25th, 1997 (online for subscribers); collected in The Knife-Thrower (1998); read by Richard Powers for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, January 3rd, 2017

Maybe 4,000 words? Not long

This story feels sad to me—the failure of the narrator to make a meaningful connection with his old friend and his friend’s new wife. It occurs to me that this story could be a parable for a prejudiced person’s reaction to an interracial marriage, or a same-sex marriage, or perhaps a marriage to a transgender person or a severely handicapped person by someone who’s neither: How grotesque this is, how wrong! Yet the narrator does get an intimation of a real and healthy marriage, a thing he’s never achieved himself.


An encouraging thing?

“Ten thousands things have to spark all at the same time, and cohere into a good hot flame, before a story results for me. I can still count the stories I’ve begun and finished on one hand.”

—Kai Ashante Wilson (x, found in a comment here)


Last words

“Don’t go away.”

“I’m not going away.”

“But I’m going away.”

—Kafka and Robert Klopstock, K: A Biography of Kafka, by Ronald Hayman


On the difference between fantasy and magical realism

“We are looking for realistic worlds that exhibit some sort of magical or supernatural element taken by the people in that world to be real. If fantasy shows us a world where ghosts exist, magical realism offers up a world where ghosts are pedestrian. In fantasy ghosts are the whole point. In magical realism ghosts are not the whole point.”

—the guidelines for the magazine doppelgänger, edited by James Hodgson

I’ve always struggled with the distinction, so this is helpful.


More good thoughts about singular they

“My use of their is socially motivated and, if you like, politically correct: a deliberate response to the socially and politically significant banning of our genderless pronoun by language legislators enforcing the notion that the male sex is the only one that counts. I consistently break a rule I consider to be not only fake but pernicious. I know what I’m doing and why.”

—Ursula K. Le Guin in Steering the Craft (found here)


Short story: “Dream Job”

“Dream Job,” by Seamus Sullivan

Appeared in Terraform, January 18th, 2018

1,330 words

An interesting and—in spirit, if not in actual technological plausibility—all too believable vision of the future, or rather, the present. The “gig economy.” I feel like Terraform stories often leave the story and the technological problem largely unresolved. I would have liked this story to do something more than (spoilers) portray Aishwarya’s downward spiral. Perhaps explore her connection with her customers through their foreign dreams?

A good line: “She has always known, at the bottom of her mind where the dreams crystallize, what being awake means. Avoidable pain.”

I’m curious whether the author is Indian. Probably not. I might read this story slightly differently if I knew he was. I don’t like that about myself as a reader, but it’s quite natural to take the authorship of a text into account in reading. I suppose this story could have been set in the U.S. or some other country, but setting it in a lower-middle income country underlines the exploitation going on.


Flash fiction story: “Thinking of Dazai”

“Thinking of Dazai,” by Canovaccio

Appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, January 22nd, 2018

970 words, including the epigraph

An intriguing piece. “[S]ometimes people just can’t do the right thing.” If the last line means what I think it does, Helena has gotten herself stuck in a pattern of mistakes and violence.


Flash fiction story: “On Top of the World”

“On Top of the World,” by Len Kuntz

Appeared in Wigleaf, January 2018

219 words

A charming fantasy. I like the tension between the first two lines and what follows. That seems like a dumb obvious thing to say, but it’s true.