Tag: parent-child relationships

If this is true I’m doomed

“My very first writing teacher, Max Steele, once told our class that we would never be the writers we were meant to be until we had dealt with our mother issues. I heard this as an eighteen year old and it is something I have thought about ever since. In fact, in my own writing classes, I refer to it as: if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother and have been both surprised and delighted over the years to see how often a character’s mother, or the absent mother, ends up being the key to whatever is missing.”

—Jill McCorkle (x)


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


I like the filename.

Short story: “Day One”

“Day One,” by Ashlee Crews

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

A few thousand words

This is really good. The slow reveal of who Charles is and what he did is riveting, and Mavis’s cognitive dissonance, as her doctor calls it, is very believable. It’s for the best that we never find out the whole of what happened that night—the details would inevitably be lurid, sensationalistic, irrelevant.

I’m not sure what the title means. I say that a lot; titles often perplex me. This isn’t day one of Charles’ sentence, is it?

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: “In the Shadow of Man”

“In the Shadow of Man,” by Belle Boggs

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

Several thousand words 

Really good story about the relationship between these parents, the way their trust in each other breaks down shockingly fast the moment they start fearing for their children.

Not sure what the title means. The author’s blog mentions In the Shadow of Man, by Jane Goodall, as a favorite book, so maybe it’s meant to cast the panicky parents as chimpanzees.

Short story: “Kylie Land”

“Kylie Land,” by Caspian Gray

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, July 2018 (issue 70), and narrated on the podcast by Stefan Rudnicki

6,348 words

Awesome story. I was distracted trying to decide if it was horror (it’s not). But it’s so hopeful, a story of friendship and a boy trying to get free from his stifling life. Interesting to see how broadly Nightmare defines the genre of dark fantasy.

Short story: “Friends”

“Friends,” by Laura van den Berg

Appeared in the anthology Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery & Murder, edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto and published by Black Balloon, an imprint of Catapult; appeared in Catapult on June 1st, 2018

1,525 words

The part about the mother is fascinating.

“Am I a terrible person?” Sarah asked.

“Yes,” Holly said. “That’s what makes you perfect.”

Ah, friendship.

Short story: “Birthday Boy”

“Birthday Boy,” by Amy Lukavics

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6 (it’s the first story in the issue)

Maybe 3,000 words? I’m hopeless at estimating these things

Clever, and the mother’s emotional arc feels believable, at least to me. Of course, the story cheats by withholding information that the point-of-view character knows, but I think it gets away with it.



Short story: “Athena Dreams of a Hollow Body”

“Athena Dreams of a Hollow Body,” by JR Fenn

Made The Masters Review‘s 2016 Fall Fiction Contest Shortlist; appeared in the Boston Review‘s collection Global Dystopias, edited by Junot Díaz, and online here

5,155 words

A great portrait of a very strange world. The character of the artificial mother is really well drawn, and it’s impossible to tell if she feels motherly love or is simply programmed to be fixated on it.

Flash fiction story: “The Chex Gambit”

“The Chex Gambit,” by Jon Lasser

Read for Toasted Cake 184, May 13th, 2018

Not sure how many words