Tag: unknown word count

Short story: “Waugh”

“Waugh,” by Bryan Washington

Appeared in the New Yorker, October 29th, 2018, and on The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)

Several thousand words

Harsh and sad, and sparely written. Interesting how Emil (?) disappears at the end—it seemed as though he and Poke might be forming a real connection, but in reality Poke is only thinking of Emil’s value to Rod. The point of view stays outside of Poke’s emotional center, perhaps because that’s just the way his character is. Very masculine, that aloofness of point of view.


Short story cycle/fictional essay: “Good World”

“Good World,” by John Haskell

Appeared in Blind Spot, issue 23, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

Ten and two thirds pages in BANR, which probably means it’s in the range of four thousand words

That “powerlessness and optimism” is heavy stuff. How can we change our habits, make ourselves good? The little girl in the well seems to know, or perhaps it’s not knowledge but something else that makes her abruptly choose to act. The woman Anne is trapped in her habits. Laika’s habits make her happy—don’t they?—as well as good.

What is a good world?

Short story: “Algorithmic Problem-Solving in Father-Daughter Relationships”

“Algorithmic Problem-Solving in Father-Daughter Relationships,” by Xuan Juliana Wang

Appeared in Ploughshares, Volume 41, Number 2, Summer 2015, guest-edited by Lauren Groff (on Project MUSE); anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

Several thousand words; 14.5 pages in BANR

I really like the style and premise; you can’t help but enjoy this guy’s approach, his blinkered determination. I was disappointed however that the daughter didn’t reappear in the present day. I wanted the closure of knowing whether she forgave him. At the end, the little flashback to her childhood does provide a solution to his problem—the imaginative empathy he habitually lacks. But does he realize that? And is it too late?

Short story: “Things I Know to Be True”

“Things I Know to Be True,” by Kendra Fortmeyer

Appeared in One Story #209, August 13th, 2015; won a Pushcart Prize; anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

Several thousand words; 17 and 2/3 pages in BANR

A story about stories. Charlie’s case is a painful one, the words he lives in failing and deluding him. Could this be a story about the inadequacy of language generally? Most of the time when Charlie speaks, his words make sense only to him.

I haven’t seen a lot of stories about PTSD in veterans recently. I wonder if it’s considered a cliché (I googled reactions to this story and found someone saying yes, it is). This story certainly makes the trope work, anyway.

The author is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of the Bent Agency (x) and seems to be very eclectic. Speculative fiction and YA.

Short story: “Sudba 1”

“Sudba 1,” by Anna Kovatcheva

Appeared in The Iowa Review, Vol. 45, issue 2, Fall 2015; anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016; read by the author on YouTube

About eight pages in this anthology

An interesting story, but not the gut-punch I’d like it to be. The last line sums up my reaction: great line, but you can see it coming and, for me at least, there’s no great sense of loss.

Short story: “The Miracle Years of Little Fork”

“The Miracle Years of Little Fork,” by Rebecca Makkai

Appeared in Ploughshares Summer 2015, guest-edited by Lauren Groff; anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

15 and 2/3 pages in this anthology, several thousand words

A good story about a good man. I like the sadness of the elephant and her poor trainer, of Stella Blunt giving up her child, and the sadness that seems to dog Reverend Hewlett no matter what he does.

Feels typical of Ploughshares, though I’m not sure how a guest-edited magazine can have a typical style.

Short story: “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties”

“Teddy Bears and Tea Parties,” by S. Boyd Taylor

Appeared in ChiZine #41, July 2009; read in Drabblecast 146, January 14th, 2010, and in a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, June 26th, 2018; also published as a Kindle book and available on Scribd

A few thousand words

Eh, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Feels like weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Not that it’s not well written; it certainly succeeds in being original as horror.

I got a craving after listening to this, and ended up having a bagel with grape jelly. Delicious.

Short story: “Morris and the Machine”

“Morris and the Machine,” by Tim Pratt

Originally in Triangulations: The End of Time, September 2007; appeared in Drabblecast 150, February 12th, 2010, and a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, July 7th, 2018

A few thousand words

Interesting how Morris’s tragedy is, classically, all his own fault. He screws up his life by dwelling excessively on the past, just more literally than most. Not that I don’t sympathize.

The sleeping with a seventeen-year-old is pretty creepy.

I thought I detected a hint that Penny had been physically abusive. He says he doesn’t want to turn his back on her, and he puts the table between them. Presumably unintentional, since the author doesn’t mention it in his commentary and it distracts from the theme of the story.

Short story: “She”

“She,” by Gerri Leen

Read by Josie Babin for Tales to Terrify 347, September 21st, 2018

A few thousand words?

A fine and effective story, and a nice reading.

I don’t mind not getting a definite setting, though I wonder if making the time and place more vivid (beyond the house and the sunny field or wherever) would improve the story. Someplace where there are uncomfortable corsets and female doctors.

Short story: “Waypoint”

“Waypoint,” by K. C. Vance

Appeared in Zone 3, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 2018

About five and a half pages, maybe a few thousand words?

The way this story is written is interestingly oblique. The downplaying of the lost child, the lost marriage, in favor of the lost parakeets. The marriage, too, seems to have ended because of the pregnancy, so losing the pregnancy must be like losing her husband a second time. A lot of unstated emotion.

I like how we learn that she doesn’t tell her estranged husband about her miscarriage only when we’re told she left a message about the birds.

There was one paragraph where I had trouble with a flashback because it was in simple past tense instead of past perfect. I wish writers would stop avoiding the word “had.” It’s a useful word.