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Tag: short stories

Flash fiction story: “One Night Stand”

“One Night Stand” (shouldn’t that be hyphenated?), by Cameron Bryce

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few hundred words

A charmingly surreal piece with great pacing. Kind of in the tradition of “The Swimmer,” though what it really reminds me of is “Going for a Beer,” naturally enough—I mean, not just because of the beer.

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Short story: “The Girls”

“The Girls,” by Megan Taylor

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few thousand words

A good nightmare, as are many Neon stories. I can sympathize with that adult fear of teenagers, those menacing no-longer-children, too-cool-for-grownups aliens.

Short story: “Incorporated”

“Incorporated,” by Simon K. Brown

Appeared in Neon Issue Forty-Six, May 29th, 2018

A few thousand words

I like this. Neon fiction tends to have this distinctive style: darkly realistic details that persist through increasing surrealism.

The title seems to have a double meaning, referring to the way the main character and others get incorporated into their workplace. Maybe that’s obvious, but it took me a minute. (I was distracted by my association of the word with physical embodiment.)

Short story: “Mirror Ball”

“Mirror Ball” or “Mirrorball,” by Mary Gaitskill

Appeared in Index (a magazine I can’t seem to track down online); collected in Don’t Cry: Stories (2009, Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.); featured on the Knopf Doubleday site on April 24th, 2009

7,474 words

Fascinating. There’s so much abstraction, and yet the story comes through as vivid and urgent. Lots of imagery to keep it grounded.

Gaitskill seems to have a remarkable view of sex, and a remarkably dark view of casual sex and sex work. Perhaps she believes sex should be confined to stable relationships because it’s so dangerous emotionally (or rather, according to the worldbuilding of this story, spiritually). Pardon me for speculating about the author, but it’s hard to resist when the theme runs so unmistakably through other stories of hers, like “The Agonized Face.” It’s an attitude that overlaps with the puritanical, though the rawness, frankness, and intensity of her work is far from it.

How strange that this young woman (“girl”) is saved by an encounter with a homeless-looking man and by her rather inappropriate, desperate phone call. How wonderful that this young man (“boy,” thank goodness for gender parity—perhaps they are so called because of their innocent foolishness, their ignorance of the nature of souls) answers his phone when he has good reason not to.

Flash fiction story: “Greased Lightnin'”

“Greased Lightnin’,” by Meghan Phillips

Appeared in Pidgeonholes, June 2018

181 words

I like the line “Just like the real thing.”

And of course I like the erotic car imagery. Amazing how impressionable kids’ minds and sexualities seem to be.

Short story: “Stitching Time”

“Stitching Time,” by Stephanie Burgis

Appeared in Grendelsong: Autumn 2015

Maybe 3,000 words?

Interesting. Mental health practitioners are always a rich vein for horror and creepiness, perhaps even more so than mental illness itself. Something about the intimacy of their authority over their patients.

Short story: “Bloodletting”

“Bloodletting,” by Melanie Rees

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6

Maybe 2,000 words?

I liked this one.

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: “Stone Mattress”

“Stone Mattress,” by Margaret Atwood

Appeared in the New Yorker, December 19th, 2011, online here; collected in Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales (Nan A. Talese, an imprint of Knopf Doubleday, 2014); read by A. M. Homes for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, June 1st, 2018, online here

7,156 words, though it feels much shorter

(Spoilers.) Verna is charmingly believable. It seems like such a leap from her quiet, almost passive-aggressive husband murders (and not all of them even qualify as murders, I feel like) to the swift brutal one she enacts on Bob—I wasn’t sure if she could go through with it. But then she did. And I liked it.

What to make of the ending? I think she’s going to get away with it, but it’s striking how apathetic she is about the whole plan, how distractable. “She ought to care more about that—she ought to find it an exciting challenge—but right now she just feels tired and somewhat empty.

“Though at peace, though safe.” Is she lying to herself about feeling at peace? Surely she is. Surely her revenge hasn’t solved the problem of her life, her bitterness about the long-lasting effects of her trauma.

Edited to add: “kind, soft, insulating money” is so great. Listening to the podcast, I was waiting for the noun (“love,” perhaps?) and “money” came as a delightful surprise.

Short story: “Dead in the Eye”

“Dead in the Eye,” by Melissa Mesku

Appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE #17, Spring 2018

1,492 words

I like the last paragraph. It seems to tie everything together.

Is every adolescence story a coming-of-age story? Surely not. Surely some of them are just life experience stories. Here, the protagonist doesn’t yet understand the difference between her and Violet; she’s still, as it were, innocent. It’s her adult self who marks that difference.