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Tag: 1990s

Short story: “Definitely Maybe”

“Definitely Maybe,” by Allee Richards

Appeared in The Lifted Brow, issue 38, June 2018 (buy the issue or read an excerpt of the story)

Several thousand words; I’m getting lazy about word count

A story about being in a bad relationship and very aware of it, and the desperate inadequacy of nineties-style “Girl Power.” Perhaps the inadequacy of more contemporary feminist thinking, too? I like the character bragging about how she used to grow out her underarm hair, to prove she’s better than this.

I can’t get over how much this magazine costs to ship to the U.S. Not sure it contains enough fiction to be worth it, but at least the fiction is good.

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Short story: “Audition”

“Audition,” by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Appeared in the September 10th, 2018 issue of the New Yorker; read by the author on The Writer’s Voice: New Fiction from the New Yorker, September 4th

6,708 words

An engrossing story. At the end I worry that the main character is lost, that he will go on smoking crack (quite possible, and the author implies in an interview that he’s doomed) and never move to LA (almost certain). And I don’t want him to move to LA, because that way lies a miserable disillusionment—at least in my mind.

Sayrafiezadeh has, of course, been published in the New Yorker, which makes him the kind of success in his field that the main character dreams of being. I wonder what it’s like writing such a character from such a vantage point.

Hard and not much fun

“In his author’s note in the 1995 Best American Short Stories, [Steven] Polansky said that ‘Leg’ was ‘hard, and not much fun, to write.’ This was a new one to me — but he was on to something. My best work since then has been the stuff that has made me the most uncomfortable, and that I have been the most anxious about sending out into the world.”

—J. Robert Lennon (x)

Short story: “Border Crossing”

“Border Crossing,” by Ann Copeland

Appeared in The FiddleheadNo. 163 (Spring 1990) and No. 185 (Fiddlehead Gold)

Maybe 3,000 words?

I liked this story. The title seems to suggest what disturbs the main character: some kind of trespassing across the borders that divide his life as a father from his life as a man.

I’m curious about how a (presumably) female author approaches the interiority of a male character.

Short story: “The Specialist’s Hat”

“The Specialist’s Hat,” by Kelly Link

Collected in Pretty Monsters (Canongate Books), which won a Locus Award; the story also won the 1999 World Fantasy Award; read beautifully in Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

Not sure how many words

This story is so strange I wonder if it originated as a dream. Not the identical twins or their preoccupation with death/Death—those strike me as fairly conventional tropes in horror and the literature of the uncanny. But that hat, which doesn’t look like a hat, and which can mimic any sound … that belongs in the realm of dream. The ending is marvelous, with children’s games and poetry ambiguously bleeding into the real world.

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.

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)

This makes me feel better

“Being creepy is a part of human nature, and learning to recognize and put boundaries on our own creepiness is something curricular Sex Ed should teach us, but never will.”

—Helena Fitzgerald in this great essay about growing up (found via this)

Crime and mystery fiction publication: Crimewave

Crimewave, an all-fiction magazine printed twice a year by TTA Press, also available in an electronic edition; unfortunately, it appears, as Christopher Fielden suggests, it’s no longer being published—perhaps it’s just been on hiatus
1999 to 2013?
Edited by Andy Cox?
Subscribe here for £36.00 ($49.43 U.S.) per four issues, at least in theory
Apparently didn’t pay writers
Not sure of the typefaces they used
In issue 12, the number of words per line averages 10.6875, and there are 35 lines per page, so per full page, that comes to 374.0625 words

The original editor, Mat Coward, says, “We don’t do cosy, we don’t do hardboiled, we don’t do noir. What we do is something entirely different to anything you’ve ever read before.” That’s not quite true. What Crimewave does—used to do—is literary fiction, or quasi-literary fiction, about crime. And it was pretty impressive.

Standouts:

What a Wigleaf is

From an interview with the editor of Wigleaf in The Review Review:

Michael Fischer: Okay, I’ve always wanted to ask you this—at the risk of sounding like an idiot: what’s a “Wigleaf”? What’s the story behind the journal’s name?

Scott Garson: Did you ever see the SNL commercial parody for the conservative investment firm that didn’t get on the internet quickly enough and so was stuck asking people to visit it on the only domain it could eventually secure, http://www.clownpenis.fart? That bit aired in 1999. Wigleaf didn’t launch until early ’08, so you can imagine how much worse things were. And I really wanted a dot-com! So I got in the habit of trying out sounds in my head, just nonsense constructions. At first, I’d usually be like, That doesn’t sound like anything—definitely not our mag. But once I got used to “Wigleaf,” I could imagine other people getting used to it, too. I could imagine it sounding fairly natural.