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Tag: 2010s

Short story: “The Confession”

“The Confession,” by Leïla Slimani

Appeared in French in Le Magazine Littéraire; appeared in English, translated by Sam Taylor, in the New Yorker, February 18th & 25th, 2019 (read/listen)

2,683 words (I guessed around 2,000)

Interesting, but not very emotionally affecting—interesting in its banality. The horse dream reminded me so much of Crime and Punishment that I thought it must surely be an allusion, but the interview Slimani gives with Deborah Treisman doesn’t touch on that. I like Slimani’s comment that writing about bad things happening makes her less afraid.

The opening reminded me of nothing so much as an Animorphs book. Perhaps overly dramatic.

What is the role of such a story in our understanding of sexual assault? I didn’t feel I learned anything new from it—the banality of rape is not a new idea to me—but I’m certain others will.

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Short story: “Ugly Earthling”

“Ugly Earthling,” by Kate Sheeran Swed

Appeared in Electric Spec Volume 13, Issue 4, November 30th, 2018 (online here)

3,853 words

Charmingly silly and original.

I’m puzzled by the “ugly Earthling” bit, because immediately afterwards it’s revealed that Earthlings/Earthens are treated like second-class citizens. Isn’t “ugly American” the term for someone who tramples all over other cultures in the spirit of thoughtless privilege?

Short story: “900 Seconds of Cognizance and Counting”

“900 Seconds of Cognizance and Counting,” by Krystal Claxton

Appeared in Factor Four Magazine, Issue 4: January 2019, online here

1,498 words

Awesome story. At the risk of spoilers, I’m a sucker for an AI that shows compassion.

This is stretching the definition of flash fiction, in my opinion, though it does have a flash fiction feel.

Flash fiction story: “Ouroboros”

“Ouroboros,” by Michael Compton

Published in Monkeybicycle‘s One-Sentence Stories feature, February 1st, 2019

342 words

Cleverly written and effective. The first few phrases didn’t grab me, but then we got to the description of “that endless instant” and the tension clicked on. We never learn what makes the main character a Bad Husband—it may actually be something really bad—but we sympathize with his feeling of being stuck.

Flash fiction story: “Sophisticated”

“Sophisticated,” by Brendan T Stallings

Daily Science Fiction, Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

616 words

Nice one. Though I found the main character’s interests a bit generic: “Art, Entertainment, Philosophy, snacks.” And of course “humor.”

Flash fiction story: “Picnic Basket”

“Picnic Basket,” by Adi Blotman

Every Day Fiction, Valentine’s Day, 2019

428 words

I like this. Who doesn’t want to own a picnic basket? It’s like how owning a tea set makes me feel like I could throw a tea party any time I want, and owning a skin diving knife makes me feel like I could have an encounter with a fascinating octopus, although I neither entertain nor skin dive. Is that so wrong, that our possessions let us dream?

I thought the first “fucking” was perfect but the last one was too much.

Flash fiction story: “The Exhibit”

“The Exhibit,” by Samantha Kimmey

Appeared in Split Lip Magazine, September 2018

395 words

Great atmosphere. I like how the woman who ends up acting more or less as the main character only appears as an individual halfway through (after 199 words). The real main character seems to be the crowd.

I like the satire here too, the way the visitors assess their own reactions to the art rather than actually responding to it. They don’t recognize it as actual real-life cruelty because the context is so alienating.

Short story: “Someone to Watch Over Me”

“Someone to Watch Over Me,” by Nancy Kress

StarShipSofa says this originally appeared in Asimov’s, but the ISFDB says no and so does Lightspeed—it was first in IEEE Spectrum, June 2014 (online here) and was anthologized in Coming Soon Enough: Six Tales of Technology’s Future, edited by Stephen Cass (IEEE Spectrum, 2014); collected in The Best of Nancy Kress (Subterranean Press, 2015); reprinted in Lightspeed, April 2017 (Issue 83) (online here); featured in StarShipSofa No 575, February 13th, 2019

3,215 words by my word processor’s count, 3270 according to Lightspeed

I uncomfortably identify with the protagonist. The way Amanda is willing to use her own baby, the one she should love above all else, in service of her destructive obsession. It’s a good story and I enjoyed it a lot, though I find myself wishing it would go further, make Amanda’s character deeper. When I read genre fiction I miss literary fiction and vice versa.

I didn’t get how Amanda managed to send her ex the video feed at the end, though it was clear that that’s what she was doing.

Flash fiction story: “A House with Mughal-Style Doors”

“A House with Mughal-Style Doors,” by Cathy Ulrich

Appeared in matchbook, February 2019

332 words

I love how you know from the first paragraph that the daughter is dead, and the story never actually tells us that. The mention of kitchen matches and the phrase “the white box with the red” instead of the brand name seem to imply that Deirdre’s mother didn’t smoke until now. The repetition of “After the party” strikes me as very effective. That last repeated line also works for me, although I find it a little less original than the rest of the piece.

I like the author’s note.

Short story: “Bad Vibrations”

“Bad Vibrations,” by Tiffany Michelle Brown

Originally in the anthology Alternate Hilarities: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife (edited by Giovanni Valentino, Strange Musings Press, 2016); featured in Toasted Cake 211, February 10th, 2019

Not sure how many words

Talk about relatable. I guess this could only work as a short piece, since even at this length I was grappling with the dissonance of feeling amused and embarrassed while watching a mother grieve for her (adult) child/a lively young person come to terms with her death. On the other hand, if it were a longer piece, perhaps it could have achieved a dramedy feel, developing the mother’s character while keeping up the humor.