Tag: 2010s

Novel excerpt: “Bastard Alias the Romantic”

“Bastard Alias the Romantic,” by Yuri Herrera, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman

Excerpted from The Transmigration of Bodies (from the publisher And Other Stories); appeared in Granta, June 27th, 2016, online here

4,207 words

I thought at first that this was a short story, and perhaps it doesn’t stand on its own that well, since I didn’t really get it as a story. I guess it’s about the creeping fear of death, and the way people avoid or repress it?

I think he rapes her, briefly, at the end, but it’s hard to tell. In any case he deliberately exposes them both to the possibility of catching the plague.


Short story: “Beauty, a Terrible Story”

“Beauty, a Terrible Story,” by Caio Fernando Abreu, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato

First appeared in 1989 in the collection The Dragons Haven’t Been to Paradise; appeared in English in Words without Borders: The Online Magazine of International Literature, July 2016

3,086 words, counting the epigraph but not counting the dedication

I admire the way this story avoids making any explicit (or even nearly explicit) statement about the main character’s situation. He keeps trying to tell her and failing. You can feel the weight of his silence.

Found via the Ploughshares blog.

“I remember translating the last scene of the story, when the protagonist “ran his fingertips along his neck, […] groping for a seed in the dark.’ Afterward, I realized that I’d placed my own hand on the right side of my neck like the protagonist. The experience wasn’t romantic or magical, but it served as a reminder that I was inhabiting someone else’s world, and that I could trust the reader to feel the story as intensely as I’d felt it, no further explanation needed.”

—the translator (x)

Short story: “Again”

“Again,” by Ramsey Campbell

Originally appeared in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine (which ran from 1981 to 1989); featured in PseudoPod 550, July 7th, 2017; apparently anthologized all over the place, including in Vile Things from Comet Press

Maybe 5000 words?

A truly creepy story, repellent and fascinating. It gets a lot of its force, I can’t help but feel, from the reader’s discomfort with kinky sex and with old people having sex lives at all.

Short story: “Degrees of Beauty”

“Degrees of Beauty,” by Cassandra Khaw

Appeared in Terraform, October 27th, 2016

950 words

Creepy. I was a little confused by the first paragraph, and I found the ending a little too hard to believe (given the nature of the surgeries described up to that point), but overall I liked it.

Short story: “Flyover Country”

“Flyover Country,” by Tim Maughan

Appeared in Terraform, November 25th, 2016

2,302 words

A chilling premise and an ingenious plot.

Science fiction publication: Terraform

What: Terraform, a production of Vice‘s Motherboard that puts out one fiction piece per week
When: 2014? to present
Who: Looks like it’s edited by Claire Evans and Brian Merchant, or at least was at the start; the story commentaries are currently by Becky Ferreira
How: Free online, plastered with ads—each story is interrupted by multiple ads, it feels like
$: The impressive sum of $0.20 a word
Typefaces: Open Sans, CalvertMTBold, TazuganeGothic

A fun read. I’m not a big fan of the commentaries, which basically rehash the themes or the science fictional elements of the stories.


Essay: “Face the Music”

“Face the Music: My Improbable Trip to Saturn (or Close Enough) with Sun Ra,” by Michael Lowenthal

Ploughshares Solo 5.1, for sale here and as part of an omnibus edited by Ladette Randolph, 2017

Must be close to 10,000 words, but not sure

A nonfiction essay that manages to have the shape and power of fiction.

Short story: “In Sight of the Lake”

“In Sight of the Lake,” by Alice Munro

Appeared in Granta 118: Exit Strategies, February 2nd, 2012; online here; collected (apparently with a change in the main character’s name) in Dear Life: Stories, published October 13th, 2012 by Douglas Gibson Books

4,639 words

(Spoilers.) A good story. Excellent last line. It’s hard to tell how much of this is happening and how much is something that happened a long time ago, before Jean got here. The frequent one-sentence paragraphs do a lot for the voice and the feeling of disorientation.

I’m surprised to see Munro writing something with such a blatant twist ending—something that seems rare in literary fiction. I guess I’m not that familiar with her work.

Edited to add:

Not quite yet, but almost, readers know where this story is headed.

It is almost as predictable as the fact that a railway leads to a train station. (See “Train”.)

—Buried in Print (x)

I found it to be quite unlike what we’re used to seeing in Alice Munro. In fact, more than reminding me of an Alice Munro story, it reminded me, in some small ways, of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer.”


I can’t remember another Alice Munro story where I knew how it was going to end before we got there.

—Trevor Berrett on The Mookse and the Gripes (x)


Short story: “Insurance”

“Insurance,” by Thomas Bolt

Appeared in n+1‘s online-only edition, September 1st, 2017

3024 words

Maybe more of a vignette, a slice of life, than a story. A family beset by small, everyday inconveniences that somehow seem bigger than they are.

Short story: “The Corpse Child”

“The Corpse Child,” by Chris Kuriata

Read by John Bell in PseudoPod* episode 563: Flash on the Borderlands XXXIX: Teratology, October 6th, 2017

Not sure how many words, but this is a flash fiction episode

A great funny/creepy tale (to borrow the author’s description) that has the feel of a classic folktale or ghost story. The reader’s “child voice” struck me as fake at first, but it grew on me.

*Pseudopod/PseudoPod can’t decide how to capitalize its name, so I’ve been going back and forth. It’s PseudoPod on the episode pages, so maybe that’s the correct way.