Tag: major character deaths

Flash fiction story: “On Top of the World”

“On Top of the World,” by Len Kuntz

Appeared in Wigleaf, January 2018

219 words

A charming fantasy. I like the tension between the first two lines and what follows. That seems like a dumb obvious thing to say, but it’s true.


Short story: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor

First published in The Avon Book of Modern Writing (Avon Books, 1953); anthologized in The House of Fiction (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960); collected in A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955); anthologized all over the place; online hereread by the author here

6,463 words

I like this story without really knowing what it means. I love the grandmother. She’s so annoying, so unwittingly ridiculous, it’s actually cute.

Wikipedia offers several interpretations of the story. J. Stillwell Powers, on the Ploughshares blog, subscribes to the “moment of grace” one, which I like:

“The grandmother experiences her own dismantling as her family is executed. Her attempts to reason with the Misfit prove futile, and she is forced to confront the failure of her worldview as a means for salvation. Stripped of the perspectives she has clung to, she turns inward for redemption, and, in this moment, sees clearly for the first time. Here lies her moment of grace. Beneath the muzzle of the Misfit’s gun, she suddenly perceives the Misfit’s humanity, recognizing it as her own.”

This seems like the interpretation O’Connor most likely intended. Not to imply that the author’s intention is the last word.

Now Bessie Smith’s great rendition of the song of the same title is stuck in my head.

Short story: “Half Pipe”

“Half Pipe,” by Zoe Whittall

Appeared in Hazlitt, July 21st, 2017, with some illustrations by Vicki Nerino

5,363 words

This is really good stuff. Spoilers follow. I felt like the ending was too abrupt. It’s been set up mechanically—all the elements are in place for this thing to happen—but it doesn’t feel justified by the story. The story shouldn’t end with a bang, it should end with Morgan and the changes she’s undergone. (It also occurs to me that this ending could be a punishment for Tyler’s crimes. Maybe Morgan’s barely expressed anger is coming out through her uncle. That doesn’t seem quite right though.)

Flash fiction story: “The 45th President of the United States and I Went to a Petting Zoo”

“The 45th President of the United States and I Went to a Petting Zoo,” by Grant Gerald Miller

Appeared in (b)OINK, October 13th, 2017

513 words

A bizarre and charming fantasy. I like the stilted repetition of “the 45th President” and its refusal to actually say the guy’s name.

“The 45th President slowly mouthed the world animal. Animals, I said. They’re called animals. You’re supposed to pet them.”

Edited to add: It has been confirmed that the president can, in fact, identify several different animals.

Flash fiction story: “One-Way Family”

“One-Way Family,” by Claire Polders

Appeared in (b)OINK, December 12th, 2017

544 words

I like this story. The tragedy of the protagonist finding her (?) way to loving her sister only when it’s too late.

“Happiness, he said, is a pause between misery and regret.”

Short story: “After Life”

“After Life,” by Jen Michalski

Appeared on LitMag‘s blog, April 10th, 2017

2,252 words

The emptiness of the girlfriend’s characterization is striking and well done: you can see she’s a real person, but like the main character, you can’t see who she really is. Is it possible the dreams she recounted were, in fact, all she ever dreamed? Did she sense something missing inside herself?

Edited to add: This casting-about for answers is familiar to anyone who’s lost someone to suicide.

Short story: “My Dear You”

“My Dear You,” by Rachel Khong

Appeared in Tin House, May 31st, 2017, online here

3,776 words

A lovely, slightly loopy story. (Spoilers follow.) I like the depiction of memory as fluid, the way the main character re-finds her lost love and re-loses him, the way their temporary relationship remains important (“irreplaceable”).

Short story: “The Jesus Singularity”

“The Jesus Singularity,” by Zoltan Istvan

Appeared in Terraform, August 24th, 2016

2,519 words


Short story: “Whimper”

“Whimper,” by Joanna Scott

Appeared in Black Clock, issue 21, spring/summer 2016

9.5 pages, maybe 5k words?

This is beautifully painful, and I didn’t see the twist coming till it was upon me.

Short story: “The Last Thing She Wore”

“The Last Thing She Wore,” by Kathryn Kulpa

Appeared in Monkeybicycle, April 29th, 2016

502 words

A good story that captures the dangerous restlessness of adolescence.