Short story: “The Golden Age”

“The Golden Age,” by Mark Doten

Appeared in n+1, September 16th, 2016 (!)

3990 words

“I really need to thank the generals—can I take a moment to thank the generals? These generals we’ve got, they are amazing, and they’ve said to me, we’re so glad it’s you. In every single branch of the military we have, we have these generals, and what a job they are doing. What an amazing job. And what they’re saying to me is that this is a very small little bomb that’s being used over there, a small nuclear device, and what we’ve got, it’s so much bigger. You run down the line with what’s happening in these places around the world. These are almost all very small little bombs, and even the ones that are a little more serious, even those, ours are much, much bigger, so people can understand that we are in control of the situation, and we are going to have a very, very successful number of days.”

Towards the end, the familiar voice of the president starts to wear down and uncharacteristic eloquence shines through—perhaps because the alternative is ever-increasing incoherence.

Short story: “The Meat Suit”

“The Meat Suit,” by Garth Risk Hallberg

Appeared April 25th, 2017 in Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists 3 (online here)

5875 words

Great last line.

In the second section, “middle-school dance” stopped me short because, despite several other hints to the character’s age, I was picturing her quite a bit older than fourteen (and I think she’s actually more like thirteen). There’s no attempt to channel the character’s voice the way a third-person YA novel would, and for that reason the narration feels a little disembodied to me. In fact, Jolie doesn’t get much of a voice at all, apart from her very real conversation with Precious.

On real-life memory and fiction

“The great British novelist Graham Greene said that all good novelists have bad memories. What you remember comes out as journalism. What you forget goes into the compost of the imagination.”

From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen Butler

On revising

“[Y]ou might say to yourself, OK, that’s fine, all that white-hot-center stuff spilling out in the composition, but when I go back to edit and revise, how do the dreams fit in there? Or do they?

“They absolutely do. What you need to do now is to think of yourself as a reader encountering a strange work. You’ve got to understand your own memory and figure out what it takes for you to forget what you have written, sufficiently that you can revisit it as reader. That’s the key to editing yourself. This is where having a bad memory will serve you well.”

—Robert Olen Butler in From Where You Dream

On daily momentum

“[F]or me, making progress on a book, and not getting overwhelmed and derailed by the daunting task of writing an entire book, comes down to finding, achieving, and maintaining a sense of daily momentum—no matter if the progress is large or small, and most of the time, in my case at least, it’s the latter situation.”

—Andrew Roe (x)


“Who doesn’t desire his father’s death?”

—Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov

All the publications named in A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, by Margaret Drabble

  • Punch
  • Winter’s Tales
  • Nova
  • Mademoiselle
  • The Saturday Evening Post (x)
  • Penguin Modern Stories
  • Women and Fiction: Short Stories by and About Women
  • Spare Rib (apparently defunct)
  • Ms.
  • Fine Lines: The Best of Ms. Fiction
  • Cosmopolitan
  • In the Looking Glass: Twenty-One Modern Short Stories by Women
  • The Ontario Review (now defunct; archives)
  • Woman’s Journal
  • Persuasions
  • Neonlit: “Time Out” Book of New Writing
  • The Long Story

Short story: “Me”

“Me,” by Hunter Liguore

Appeared in Spark: A Creative Anthology Volume II, online here

3225 words

A fun story.

On ricochet vision

“I often use the metaphor of Perseus and the head of Medusa when I speak of science fiction. Instead of looking into the face of truth, you look over your shoulder into the bronze surface of a reflecting shield. Then you reach back with your sword and cut off the head of Medusa. Science fiction pretends to look into the future but it’s really looking at a reflection of what is already in front of us. So you have a ricochet vision, a ricochet that enables you to have fun with it, instead of being self-conscious and superintellectual.”

—Ray Bradbury (x)

Short story: “A Decent Place to Shit”

“A Decent Place to Shit,” by Paul Carlucci

Appeared in Grain Volume 43, Number 4 (Summer 2016)

About five pages, maybe 2500 words?

A good piece about somebody who’s lost.