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Tag: hierarchical power

Short story: “Hair”

“Hair,” by Weike Wang

In Boulevard, Fall 2018, Vol. 34, 1, and on their blog

2,231 words

The impossible standards women face in society are depicted here with a rather light touch—the girls/young women are almost forced to obsess over their hair, and the men they meet, having no idea what they go through every day, simply consider them shallow. The first-person plural narration strikes me as very apt, making the problem seem like an epidemic.

Great line: “We stand in the bathroom like this for years, and when we finally come out, our brothers’ puny legs have grown massive.”

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Short story: “The Trump Wedding”

“The Trump Wedding,” by E. L. Siegelstein

Appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE XX (Winter 2019), even though the magazine was supposedly shutting down after 2018; I’m thinking that was a typo and it was actually 2019

5,767 words

Morbidly compelling. By the end I was whole-heartedly rooting for the protagonist in spite of everything.

Please let this not be a vision of the future.

Short story: “A Vocabulary of Remorse”

“A Vocabulary of Remorse,” by Dantzel Cherry

Won the Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities Short Story Contest and as a result appeared in the anthology A Practical Guide to the Resurrected (October 2017, edited by Gavin Miller and Anna McFarlane, purchase here); featured in Escape Pod 685, June 21st, 2019

2,722 words

Interesting story. I was so pleased with the ending.

Novel excerpt that may also be a short story: “Conduction”

“Conduction,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Appeared in the New Yorker, June 10th, 2019, and on The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)

Several thousand words

I had never read Coates’ fiction before. It’s good.

When I read stories of abuse of power or of acts of violation, as I’ve said before, I can’t seem to predict my reaction; here I feel pity and frustration (empathetic if mild frustration). As I listened to this story my mind drifted along a rather childish fantasy of being there, as a white person, to somehow help: confront the masters, hand men and women their “papers.” I was thinking somebody should start a newspaper so free people could find their lost family members, and a literacy campaign so people could read it. Why identify with the (absent) white savior in this story? Why not place myself in the kidnappers’ shackles, or in Bronson’s longing for her lost husband and sons? Maybe because that would be too painful? It must be discouraging for a black author to be met with this kind of reaction. But maybe Coates isn’t writing for a white audience.

Novelette: “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change”

“The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change,” by Kij Johnson

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales (Viking Press, 2007, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling); anthologized in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 21st Annual Collection (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008, edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin J. Grant); shortlisted for the 2007 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and the 2008 World Fantasy Award—Short Fiction; read for Drabblecast 407, June 4th, 2019

8,583 words

Wittgenstein said, “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.” This story explores the idea that if a dog could talk, we would not be able to love her. A little tragedy and perhaps an allegory for oppressors’ inability to connect with the oppressed. Or for parents’ inability to let their children be their own people?

Kij Johnson is always thought-provoking.

Short story: “Professor Strong and the Brass Boys”

“Professor Strong and the Brass Boys,” by Amal Singh

Appeared here in Apex, issue 119, April 2nd, 2019, and on the podcast

5,161 words

I enjoy the droids’ struggles to express themselves, to have fun, and I enjoy even more the explicit sociopolitical message.

I either forgot or didn’t realize Apex did such elaborate sound productions on their podcast—quite nice.

Short story: “The Match”

“The Match,” by Colson Whitehead

Will appear in the New Yorker on April 1st, 2019, and read by the author on The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)

Several thousand words

I didn’t see the climactic twist coming. Maybe I’m dense, but I expected the conventional defiant ending, a moment of unbowed pride. Instead, despair. At least the other black boys got their victory.

Interesting point of view. It spends some time in the heads of two boys, but not much, just enough to show the orders Griff receives. It specifically avoids Griff’s own head. Then at the end it abandons the characters and seems to present us, the readers, with a challenge.

Short story: “The Confession”

“The Confession,” by Leïla Slimani

Appeared in French in Le Magazine Littéraire; appeared in English, translated by Sam Taylor, in the New Yorker, February 18th & 25th, 2019 (read/listen)

2,683 words (I guessed around 2,000)

Interesting, but not very emotionally affecting—interesting in its banality. The horse dream reminded me so much of Crime and Punishment that I thought it must surely be an allusion, but the interview Slimani gives with Deborah Treisman doesn’t touch on that. I like Slimani’s comment that writing about bad things happening makes her less afraid.

The opening reminded me of nothing so much as an Animorphs book. Perhaps overly dramatic.

What is the role of such a story in our understanding of sexual assault? I didn’t feel I learned anything new from it—the banality of rape is not a new idea to me—but I’m certain others will.

Short story: “Ugly Earthling”

“Ugly Earthling,” by Kate Sheeran Swed

Appeared in Electric Spec Volume 13, Issue 4, November 30th, 2018 (online here)

3,853 words

Charmingly silly and original.

I’m puzzled by the “ugly Earthling” bit, because immediately afterwards it’s revealed that Earthlings/Earthens are treated like second-class citizens. Isn’t “ugly American” the term for someone who tramples all over other cultures in the spirit of thoughtless privilege?

I don’t know shit about Louis CK but this is thoughtful