Tag: first-person narration

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: “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

First published in Zombies vs. Unicorns (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010); appeared in PseudoPod 581, February 9th, 2018, and replayed July 20th

7.075 words

(Heavy spoilers.) I was hooked from the first few lines. Talking mac and cheese, indeed.

I don’t quite believe Jack would invite Grayson to feed on his father’s body, at least not at the drop of a hat.

Short story: “Mannequin”

“Mannequin,” by Melissa Ragsly

Appeared in CRAFT, March 30th, 2018

6,914 words

(Spoilers.) A good teenager story with rather delightful ending. The protagonist’s presence of mind during the sexual assault scene is remarkable, maybe even wish-fulfillment-y, the kind of decisive action we all wish we had taken at a moment of uncertain crisis. She’s highly perceptive, despite her understandable adolescent naiveté about Mr. House.

Edited to add: I don’t like the way CRAFT precedes each story with commentary—it seems to me that such a thing should go at the end—but I like that they provide a link to the author’s own commentary, so you can read it (in a pop-up) or not.

Flash fiction story: “Military Coup Matching Quiz”

“Military Coup Matching Quiz,” by Ellen Adams

Appeared in the Kenyon Review Online, January/February 2018

671 words

A clever piece, full of disquieting details.

Novelette: “A Little Hero”

“A Little Hero” (“Маленький герой”), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (originally under the pseudonym “М-ий”)

According to the Russian Wikipedia, written in prison and first published in 1857 in the eighth issue of the magazine Отечественные записки/Otechestvennye Zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland); collected in White Nights and Other Stories, translated by Constance Garnett (on Gutenberg.org); also online here

14,930 words in English

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for a well-written child character? And for Dostoyevsky’s children especially? I love the cruelty of the coquette who teases him, the way he demands respect and gets it, his childishness even as he edges near adolescence, and above all, the ending.

Any story about a child or adolescent is liable to read as a coming-of-age story, because like any main character, the child/adolescent must change in some way. (Though there are exceptions, like “Voices Lost in Snow.”) “A Little Hero,” however, seems to portray a genuine coming of age, as its main character learns to deal with the first blushes of sexuality, to assert himself, and to take action for others’ sakes.

Like most of my favorite first-person stories of children, this one is clearly narrated by the adult, with complete sympathy for his childhood self.

What a thing to have written in prison! What a thing to have written with a death sentence hanging over your head!

Short story: “Make Your Mother Happy”

“Make Your Mother Happy,” by billy lombardo

Appeared in pages 59–62 of the October 30th, 2017 issue of The Tishman Review (PDF); a Tillie Olsen Short Story Award semifinalist

Maybe 1,500 words?


I reread the first part and realized it’s not the last day before a break, it’s the first day after a break. Dear god. I hope the second day goes … at least a little better.

Short story: “The Easiest Thing in the World”

“The Easiest Thing in the World,” by Ryan Napier

Appeared in pages 40–46 of the October 30th, 2017 issue of The Tishman Review (PDF)

Maybe 2,000 words?

I admire the way this story presents the narrator. In little ways, we see that he’s a bit of a schmuck, but a happy schmuck—happy in his own small way, anyhow. The bit where he tries to tell the other tourists about his boring hometown is such a great touch. He loves that boring hometown.


Fictional essay or possibly short story: “Elemental Love”

“Elemental Love,” by Rachel Swirsky

Originally on the author’s Patreon; reprinted in Uncanny Magazine Issue Nineteen, November 7th, 2017

454 words

A charming monologue on artificial and natural intelligences, and love.

Flash fiction story: “Reflected Across the Dark”

“Reflected Across the Dark,” by Laurel Amberdine

Appeared in Arsenika, issue 1, Spring 2017; online here

861 words

This is cool. I would have liked to see a longer version with a deeper look at the twins’ relationship, but the piece works well as it is.

Fictional essay: “Paradox”

“Paradox,” by Naomi Kritzer

Appeared in Uncanny Magazine Issue Sixteen, May/June 2017; online here

1643 words

Perhaps not so much an essay as a medley of voices, rants, monologues. Smart and uncomfortably relevant. “Do you think Rosa Parks was a time traveler? Rosa Parks was not a time traveler.

Edited to add: Could be considered a cycle of microfiction stories?