Week Two of my New’s Year’s Challenge and I find myself looking forward to reading shorts on-line in the way I use to look forward to unwrapping the tiny wrapped packages in my Christmas stocking when I was kid. The big presents were great! But the little ones were shinier, extra sweet, and more and more interesting as I went further into the toe.
What I’m really enjoying about the challenge is that I stumble upon new (and old) on-line journals I haven’t checked out, which then leads me to art I haven’t seen, poetry I haven’t read, editor statements that encourage me.
Fiction is not dead or even dying and good shorts are available with a click and a scroll, or maybe you have to try out two or three before you read the one you want to share, for some reason, any: the prose, the content, the place, some fabulous twist, something dark on a rainy day, a good friend wrote it. This week, I rejected a few stories, as in, I read them but then didn’t post them in my group.
I heard a line in a movie this past week…
“You think its cool to hate things. And its not. Its boring. Talk about what you love, keep quiet about what you don’t”. —Zibby– Liberal Arts
There’s enough negativity out there already, and besides, it wasn’t that the stories I didn’t post weren’t good, I just didn’t love them.
When I scanned the batch of stories I was compelled to review, a common theme I found among them was family: sisters in “Two Sisters” by Helen Rubenstein, father and daughter in “Sleeping Out” by Cassie Gonzales, a young boy and his father, in “My Father at the Mountainside” by Jacob White, a grown son and his parents in “The Red Room” by Paul Bowles, and a woman and her monkey in “My Monkey and Me” by Laura Burnes, again, sister and sister in “Firebug” by Katie Cortese–oh, the complications between sisters– and finally husband and wife in “Leftovers” by Nickolas Butler.
Once again, I was drawn to a different story each day, randomly, and as a group they held a common thread.
Here’s a saying: “There are only two things you can count on: death and taxes.”
But perhaps in fiction the two things you can count on are: death and family. Not in the sense that characters can always count on family, but that people can count on reading a pile of stories and run into family drama in more, rather than less, stories from the pile. We often write fiction about what we face in our lives. In life, we face our families, even if they aren’t near or even on the planet.
And what was the opening line in Anna Karenina again?
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
And one last thing… a happy picture of the most recent addition to my family.