Tag: characters who are writers or artists

Novelette: “The Real Thing”

“The Real Thing,” by Henry James

According to Wikipedia, this was “first syndicated by S. S. McClure in multiple American newspapers” and then appeared in Black and White, which I assume is long since defunct, on April 16, 1892; it was then collected in The Real Thing and Other Tales (1893, McMillan and Co., on Project Gutenberg); also recorded for LibriVox

10,608 words

A charming, if grim, parable about reality’s relationship with “realistic” art. It reminds me of that passage in Dorian Gray in which the gifted young actress loses her ability to play Juliet the moment she falls in love for real. I wonder, though, if this clever reversal of expectations reflects any real truth. Perhaps it is the author’s way of cautioning us against his own work; perhaps he senses that he’s in danger of convincing his readership too easily of the reality of his depictions, of lulling us into complacency; perhaps, like the post-modernists, he wants to remind us, however much more subtly, that we’re reading a story.

Side note: It’s amazing that I don’t already have an “Oscar Wilde” tag. What’s the matter with me?


Short story: “STET”

“STET,” by Sarah Gailey

Appeared in Fireside Magazine, October 2018 (read here); recommended to me by a friend with good taste

1,434 words

I very much admire the use of the form, and the sense of barely restrained fury and grief. I’m reminded of the parents in “People Like That Are the Only People Here” (the coping mechanism feels similar even if the emotion is quite different) and “Incarnations of Burned Children.”

Nice work on Fireside‘s part, formatting this. I wonder how accessible it is to people using screen readers though? I imagine they probably figured something out.

Flash fiction story: “CVS”

“CVS,” by Sean Thor Conroe

Appeared here in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, December 7th, 2018

891 words (feels shorter, possibly because it’s one paragraph)

I really like the mood this captures.

Short story: “A Little Off the Top”

“A Little Off the Top,” by Mark Crofton

Appeared in Daily Science Fiction, April 24th, 2018

662 words

A charming twist on a familiar plot.

Short story: “YouTube Comment 2 to Video of I Like America and America Likes Me by Joseph Beuys”

“YouTube Comment 2 to Video of I Like America and America Likes Me by Joseph Beuys,” by Yxta Maya Murray

Appeared in The Cincinnati Review: 14.2 Winter 2018; excerpt here

No idea how many words

A really interesting piece about the tension between the artistic drive and the life of a single mother.

See also the Review‘s commentary.

Edited to add: I just reread most of this story and I’m thinking about how the narrator’s choice of medium for her writing is a desperate attempt (failed? successful? I don’t know) to turn it into performance art. She claims she doesn’t want to be a writer, but she has no choice but to be one. And I’m thinking about how her refusal to make her love for her baby her art could be considered principled, except that she has no choice in that, either: “Art requires a distance, an artifice, an audience, a purpose apart.”

Novella: “The Critic”

“The Critic,” by Timothy Parrish

Ploughshares Solo 5.7, 2017, edited by Ladette Randolph

Maybe 10,000 words? Not sure

Ecstatically written.

You have to wonder about Markowitz’s wife. She’s surely younger than him. Her “loyalty” makes her appear unsuited to life on her own.

Parrish’s author photo is just a picture of an empty seat in front of shelves and shelves of records. Bless him and especially bless Ploughshares for that. Actually there’s also a cord attached to something on the seat, too small to be a record player.

Novelette: “Making Us Monsters”

“Making Us Monsters,” by Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly

Appeared in Uncanny Magazine Issue Nineteen, online here

10,893 words

I had trouble telling the two men’s voices apart, so at first I didn’t understand the letter/diary correspondence as intended. (Donnelly says in an interview, “One weird thing to add is that although we each took one man to write as, and I agree with Sam that we have very different voices and styles, during critiques we had several people ask who was who, or even if we had collaborated on each letter individually.”)

I like the comments about verbal clichés: “a pretty shroud for an ugly truth” and “Clichés do not make us animal; they prove the continuity of human connection. They are shared metaphors, shorthand communication.”


Short story: “Canopy”

“Canopy,” by Naben Ruthnum

Appeared in Granta 141: Canada | The Online Edition, November 16th, 2017

5,899 words

An enjoyable story. I liked observing the main character’s professional manner and trying to figure out whether there were chinks in it, flaws that brought his patients inappropriately close to him or pushed them inappropriately far away or passed inappropriate judgment. It seems like a delicate balance.

Novelette: “Isis in Darkness”

“Isis in Darkness,” by Margaret Atwood

Appeared in Granta 31: The General, April 26th, 1990 (online here); collected in Wilderness Tips, published in 1991 by McClelland & Stewart

8,056 words

A beautiful story. Bleak, but with a note of hope at the end, the hope that at least Richard can piece together some semblance of the thing he loved so much, hope in the very fact that amid the mess he’s made of his life, he can still love at all.

Here’s a good post about it.