Tag: formal inventiveness or unconventionality

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.


Short story: “Time Bomb Time”

“Time Bomb Time,” by C. C. Finlay

Appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, issue 60, May 2015 (read online or buy the issue)

3,135 words

Marvelously clever, perhaps even better than “Crab Canon” in Gödel, Escher, Bach, because it weaves in the theme of time shenanigans so well. And I knew what was coming!—I just somehow didn’t realize each paragraph led backwards as well as forwards so neatly. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have much plot movement or action; it’s more like a tense prolonged moment.

Flash fiction story cycle: “Dear 8B”

“Dear 8B,” by Matt Mikalatos

Appeared in Daily Science Fiction, September 16th, 2015, (read here) and Toasted Cake 193, September 30th, 2018 (listen here)

591 words

A fun piece. Good to know Daily SF and Toasted Cake enjoy this sort of format. I wonder why “8B” though? Is the columnist a robot?

Short story: “I Walk Between the Raindrops”

“I Walk Between the Raindrops,” by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Appeared in the New Yorker, June 30th, 2018, and in The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)

6,993 words

A peculiar story, changing from topic to topic with very little connection between them. I feel like it’s basically a story about guilt. The main character is so painfully mediocre, neither especially cruel nor especially kind, doing so little to make the world a better place, and I think he knows it.

Deborah Treisman: There seem to be two narratives here: one in which a relatively contented, happily married, satisfied man recounts some events that revolve around the misfortunes of others, and another, in which he is subconsciously aware of the role that he played in those misfortunes and is subtly trying to deflect guilt. How hard is it to channel those two narratives into one?

T. Coraghessan Boyle: This is the beauty of first-person narration: the reader can never be sure whether the narrator is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth or fudging things just a wee bit in order to assemble the psychological blocks of his own self-defensive version of events. I do like the way you put it, Deborah, with regard to the conflict here, and, of course, there is the revelation near the end in which Serena, the ESP woman, calls Brandon out for what he is.

Novelette: “Dead Air”

“Dead Air,” by Nino Cipri

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine and dramatized really well in the podcast (some excellent acting!) and featured on Dread Central

10,284 words

I enjoyed the peculiar form and the building mystery—and the fact that it’s Maddie who turns out to be the weird one, not eccentric artist Nita—but I wanted the story to reveal something at the end, something a little more definite than what was revealed. I’ve talked about big reveals in stories sometimes being disappointing, but I feel certain the author could have made it work.

I’m envious of the way the author uses the transcript format and blithely violates it with narrative interpolations (“[It’s a goodbye kiss, but Nita doesn’t know that.]”). How does that work so well?

Short story: “A Howling Dog”

“A Howling Dog,” by Nick Mamatas

Featured in PseudoPod 562, September 29th, 2017

2,166 words

Clever, though I thought the ending was rather abrupt and over the top. Of course, if you leave off the ending, it’s not horror.

Short story: “Hysteria”

“Hysteria,” by Meg Elison

Appeared in Terraform, November 2nd, 2017

1345 words

Love this. The way the plot is implied is really clever.

Has the world moved on?

“I remember in [David Foster Wallace’s] review of a biography of Dostoyevsky he wrote with great admiration about Dostoyevsky but also a certain envy that he had lived at a time when one could write in a very morally serious way without inviting eye-rolling and ridicule. It’s as if Wallace decided that the only way nowadays to explore deep philosophical and moral Dostoyevskian themes and be taken seriously was to package it in an attention-grabbing, startling, and sufficiently unfamiliar form so that readers couldn’t dismiss it as ‘the same old same old’ or think they could understand it if they just read it through quickly, but would have to slow down and properly pay attention to it.

“But I wonder if that was a product of his spending so much time in certain rarefied or fringe circles, like graduate creative writing programs. Has the world as a whole, or have readers as a whole, really moved on from serious but conventional Dostoyevsky-style literature, or is it just the people he tended to interact with who rolled their eyes at it and craved only irony, self-conscious cleverness, intentional obscurity, fractured narratives, and the like?”

—Philo (x)

Short story: “Monomyth”

“Monomyth,” by Kendra Fortmeyer

Appeared in The Cincinnati Review, issue 14.1, summer 2017

Maybe 5000 words? Not sure

I really like this. The different people’s lives fit together neatly and yet organically. I don’t really get the monomyth conceit though. Maybe it’s a framework in the mind of the failed screenwriter.

Short story: “What It Is to Preserve”

“What It Is to Preserve,” by Amber Taliancich Allen

Appeared in Ninth Letter, Winter 2017; online here

2726 words

This is a pretty cool form for a story.