Short story: “Summer after the War”

“Summer after the War,” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Appeared in Granta 7: Best of Young British Novelists, March 1st, 1983 (online here)

6206 words

Like a lot of Ishiguro’s work, this piece dwells on the irreparable mistakes of the past, and as always in a delicate way, refusing to state them outright. We understand, although the boy does not, that the grandfather’s reputation has been ruined, that he regrets his propaganda work (or perhaps not? perhaps he only regrets the public’s reaction to it), and that he does not have long to live, but he still takes joy and hope from his grandson’s young life.

By the way, congratulations to Ishiguro on the Nobel! Remains of the Day and The Unconsoled are fantastic. The Guardian says he is “currently ‘very deep’ into writing his latest novel, which he is juggling alongside film, theatre and graphic novel projects[,]” so that’s exciting.


Short story: “The Cat”

“The Cat,” by Melissa Benton Barker

Appeared in Necessary Fiction, August 9th, 2017

1607 words

This has a melancholy feel that I like.

Short story: “Never Quiet Again”

“Never Quiet Again,” by Jess Zimmerman

Appeared in Catapult, May 12th, 2017; mentioned in the magazine’s submission guidelines as something they’re proud to have published

920 words

A little horror story. This must be what tinnitus is like.

It did occur to me, regarding the next-to-last paragraph, that sign language is all that’s needed to bridge the gap between people. The Deaf must feel pretty lucky in this world. Am I being too literal? Or does this piece ignore deafness and sign language to its detriment?

Flash fiction story: “Regarding Lichen”

“Regarding Lichen,” by Isaac Yuen

Appeared in Tin House‘s Flash Fridays feature, October 13th, 2017

678 words

The form (and title) make me think of “Concerning the Bodyguard.” I like how the characters and their relationship are almost implied rather than shown.

I wonder if you could get away with calling this science fiction.

Tin House insists on writing “1000 words or fewer” instead of “1000 words or less.”

Short story: “To a Father on Teaching a Daughter to Skin a Rabbit”

“To a Father on Teaching a Daughter to Skin a Rabbit,” by Fátima Policarpo

Appeared in Ninth Letter, online here

1022 words

An intensely compact little piece. Almost flash fiction.

Short story: “Tourist”

“Tourist,” by Rebecca Jones-Howe

First appeared in PANK; apparently appeared in the collection Vile Men; appeared here in Gamut

5863 words

Interesting how the first line and the character’s unrelenting anxiety throw all the events of the story into a disturbing light. I find myself constantly studying every detail of the man’s behavior, looking for warning signs, hoping.

Gamut seems to run mostly speculative fiction, but obviously not exclusively.

Short story: “When the Lady Speaks”

“When the Lady Speaks,” by Damien Angelica Walters

First appeared in the anthology What Fates Impose, August 15th, 2013, by Alliteration Ink (on Goodreads); subsequently online here in Gamut

3333 words

Cool piece.

I think Marian changes her name to Marina to play her fortune teller role, but later the fortune teller is called Marian too. Probably a copy editor’s error.

Short story: “Renewal”

“Renewal,” by Michael Gardner

Appeared in Metaphorosis, September 15th, 2017

5831 words

A rather satisfying story.

I think John was not reborn purely because of his desire to go on in his current life, though it could be clearer. I would speculate that he was overwriting his previous babies’ minds up until the end, which is a bit of fridge horror if you think about it.

Short story: “Making the List”

“Making the List,” by David Hammond

Appeared in Metaphorosis, October 6th, 2017

7072 words

A charming story. I’m not sure why paper is flavored in this world; maybe the piece just needed a surreal touch. Also not sure about the title. I would have called it something more straightforward, like “The Neanderthal.”

Short story: “Pray on the Weak”

“Pray on the Weak,” by Katja L. Kaine

Appeared in Fabula Argentea, October 2nd, 2017

2404 words

Really evokes the main character’s frustration and struggle. I didn’t care for the last line, which seems to raise questions that belong in another, different story.