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Tag: child point of view

Short story: “What You Eat”

“What You Eat,” by Ben Ehrenreich

First appeared in BOMB Magazine, April 1st, 2003 (online here); anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004; apparently also made into a film

4,440 words, a little over ten pages in BANR

Oh, I like this. The kid seems to have a compulsive need to push boundaries—first with his slingshot, then with his incredible perversity at the end. You’d think giving his father the scare of his life would be enough, but he has to go all the way, and I like that.

I wonder if many kids brought up in rigidly authoritarian households end up boundary-pushing like this?

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Short story cycle/fictional essay: “Good World”

“Good World,” by John Haskell

Appeared in Blind Spot, issue 23, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

Ten and two thirds pages in BANR, which probably means it’s in the range of four thousand words

That “powerlessness and optimism” is heavy stuff. How can we change our habits, make ourselves good? The little girl in the well seems to know, or perhaps it’s not knowledge but something else that makes her abruptly choose to act. The woman Anne is trapped in her habits. Laika’s habits make her happy—don’t they?—as well as good.

What is a good world?

Short story: “Shadehill”

“Shadehill,” by Mark Hitz

Appeared in Glimmer Train #92, Winter 2015; this and another story won the author the $50,000 Keene Prize for Literature; it was also anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

A few thousand words; 10 and 2/3 pages in BANR

When I first read this I thought the girl had drowned, like her namesake, and that the grandfather’s unforgivable crime was neglect. Then, skimming through it a second time, I suddenly made the connection with the beaver—then the cemetery by the shooting range—then the grandfather’s refusal to wear glasses, and that terrible encounter at the funeral—and also “her poor unmade head” (I had to go back and check to make sure I’d gotten that word right, what a word, “unmade”). I like a story that makes me go back and reread parts of it, like a mystery novel that cleverly disguises its clues. The emotional journey, too—pardon the hackneyed and almost ludicrous expression—is excellent, like rising and falling music. I wouldn’t say I felt the sick horror and disorientation the family goes through, I’m more detached than that, but I feel like I understand the exact texture of their experience.

I find it interesting that before we see Ophelia’s twin go into the water, we learn that she survives. We just don’t know exactly what happens to her, which is suspense enough.

Tagging this “first-person minor narration” because I think the central character is the family as a whole, not the narrator.

I haven’t read anything from Glimmer Train in a long time—I dislike their use of author photos—but obviously they’re a very good magazine. They invited Hitz to write a short essay on craft, in which he said:

“The two things that have sustained me in my writing (which until recently has been mostly a private, even secretive activity) are my evolving obsessions with various works of literature in relationship to my life, and my own subjective discoveries regarding craft. To put it another way, the most important and lasting lessons I’ve learned about writing were not imparted to me, but rather won through the long, circular process of reading closely, putting words to paper (or failing to put words to paper), and doing my best to return everything to life. Many of these personal lessons, which I am constantly revising, would likely sound simplistic, or even absurd, if I tried to explain them here.”

The humblest commentary on craft is, in my opinion, the best. (Edited to add: Turns out he said this and I quoted it way back in 2013.)

Short story: “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties”

“Teddy Bears and Tea Parties,” by S. Boyd Taylor

Appeared in ChiZine #41, July 2009; read in Drabblecast 146, January 14th, 2010, and in a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, June 26th, 2018; also published as a Kindle book and available on Scribd

A few thousand words

Eh, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Feels like weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Not that it’s not well written; it certainly succeeds in being original as horror.

I got a craving after listening to this, and ended up having a bagel with grape jelly. Delicious.

More (untitled) microfictions from Nanoism

“on a card written in crayon:”, by Cynthia Day

Appeared in Nanoism, June 6th, 2018

22 words

I adore this. (Spoilers….) At first I took it for the love note of a rather daffy adult. It was only on a reread that I got who the writer of the card was.

“I wouldn’t wash her handprint off the window,” by Shane Olivieri

Appeared in Nanoism, June 27th, 2018

24 words

I like the implication that the narrator is deep in denial—or rather, was. Perhaps this is about a child who refuses to visit her noncustodial parent after the divorce.

“Today was okay,” by Daniel Galef

Appeared in Nanoism, January 8th, 2014

28 words

Ouch.

I like the filename.

Short story: “The Day the World Broke”

“The Day the World Broke,” by Autumn Owens

Appeared in Daily Science Fiction, August 7th, 2018

760 words

I like the atmosphere of this piece, and the ambiguity around the character’s final confession.

Flash fiction story: “Fawn”

“Fawn,” by Carrie Cooperidge

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

A few hundred words, I think

I like the subtle anxiety that builds up to the last line. Seems to be the dawning awareness that motherlove is not as dependable as the protagonist has hitherto unthinkingly believed.

Short story: “Mr. Try Again”

“Mr. Try Again,” by A. Merc Rustad

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, March 2018, issue 66 (read or listen)

4,338 words, though it feels more substantial than that

The prose is dizzying. I feel like this story is about survivor’s guilt? Though there’s a sense of quasi-complicity that goes beyond everyday survivor’s guilt.

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: “I Happy Am”

“I Happy Am,” by Jamel Brinkley

Appeared in Ploughshares Spring 2018 Vol. 44 No. 1

I would guess 4,000 words

Something like an epiphany at the end—an epiphany the boy isn’t yet prepared to understand. Good story.

His daydream of being a robot is very real.