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Tag: adolescent characters

Flash fiction story: “Milestones”

“Milestones,” by Janice Leagra

Appeared here in Spelk, February 5th, 2018

416 words

Oh man. Really good portrait of a fucked-up parent-child relationship. On my first read I was picturing the “you” as a father for some reason, but I think it’s actually a mother. I was slightly distracted at the end wondering how the narrator was speaking from beyond the grave, but whatever.

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Short story: “Morris and the Machine”

“Morris and the Machine,” by Tim Pratt

Originally in Triangulations: The End of Time, September 2007; appeared in Drabblecast 150, February 12th, 2010, and a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, July 7th, 2018

A few thousand words

Interesting how Morris’s tragedy is, classically, all his own fault. He screws up his life by dwelling excessively on the past, just more literally than most. Not that I don’t sympathize.

The sleeping with a seventeen-year-old is pretty creepy.

I thought I detected a hint that Penny had been physically abusive. He says he doesn’t want to turn his back on her, and he puts the table between them. Presumably unintentional, since the author doesn’t mention it in his commentary and it distracts from the theme of the story.

Short story: “A Coward’s Death”

“A Coward’s Death,” by Rahul Kanakia

Appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, issue 93, February 2018

2,140 words

A crushing story, tolerable only because it’s so short and parabolic. Who is the coward? Usurus acts to save a few lives in the short term, while Tiktus stands up to tyranny at great cost to everyone around him. It’s Usurus who is venerated, but it’s Tiktus who provokes that urgent question at the end, and the answer: “No. Never.” It’s the kind of question and answer that could inspire rebellion—revolution—if not for the story’s great, terrible last line.

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.

Short story: “Minor Thefts”

“Minor Thefts,” by Louise Marburg

Appeared in Ploughshares Summer 2018, guest-edited by Jill McCorkle

A few thousand words

A fine story of adolescence.

So far I’m very impressed with McCorkle’s issue.

Short story: “Mamiwata”

“Mamiwata,” by Randall Kenan

Appeared in Ploughshares Summer 2018, guest-edited by Jill McCorkle

A few thousand words

This ended sooner than I wanted it to, but I think I get it—the ambiguity of the man’s motives never resolved, Mandy/Amanda poised between two terrible dangers and choosing the lesser one, the one she seems to be too young to recognize.

Short story: “Kylie Land”

“Kylie Land,” by Caspian Gray

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, July 2018 (issue 70), and narrated on the podcast by Stefan Rudnicki

6,348 words

Awesome story. I was distracted trying to decide if it was horror (it’s not). But it’s so hopeful, a story of friendship and a boy trying to get free from his stifling life. Interesting to see how broadly Nightmare defines the genre of dark fantasy.

Short story: “The Girls”

“The Girls,” by Megan Taylor

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few thousand words

A good nightmare, as are many Neon stories. I can sympathize with that adult fear of teenagers, those menacing no-longer-children, too-cool-for-grownups aliens.

Flash fiction story: “Greased Lightnin'”

“Greased Lightnin’,” by Meghan Phillips

Appeared in Pidgeonholes, June 2018

181 words

I like the line “Just like the real thing.”

And of course I like the erotic car imagery. Amazing how impressionable kids’ minds and sexualities seem to be.

Short story: “Dead in the Eye”

“Dead in the Eye,” by Melissa Mesku

Appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE #17, Spring 2018

1,492 words

I like the last paragraph. It seems to tie everything together.

Is every adolescence story a coming-of-age story? Surely not. Surely some of them are just life experience stories. Here, the protagonist doesn’t yet understand the difference between her and Violet; she’s still, as it were, innocent. It’s her adult self who marks that difference.