365 Stories

 365 Short Stories is a forum where I post brief reviews of  short stories that may be read on-line.

Please bear with me while I catch up on this page. In the meantime, join up and find links to stories 141-200 on the Facebook Group Page.

*   *   *

Short Story: 140/365
“Flowers” by Alice Walker at The Literary Link

Nine paragraphs. A ten year old girl takes a morning stroll. The first four paragraphs describes the beauty and safety of her summer world, yet we fell the ascending tension. The fifth paragraph introduces potential danger, although we were thinking something bad was going to happen all along. The child protagonist had been walking farther and farther from home. Her innocence had been highlighted from the start. It’s a short story, after all. I admire how this story makes us feel what the child may have felt, only hinting at her emotional state once. “She had often been as far before, but the strangeness of the land made it not as pleasant as her usual haunts.” Landscape does the work. And, description.

*   *   *

Short Story: 139/367
“Sent” by Karen Bender at Narrative Magazine

A writing buddy of mine (Ross McMeekin) always looks for the one line that reveals the heart of the story. I think this may be one of those lines.

“They say that people will do anything to avoid shame.” (Bender)

*   *   *

Short Story: 138/365
“This Place is a Dump” by Gwen Mullins Alegre at Green Mountains Review

Here’s a fascinating short by a fellow Vermont College alum. Gwen spreads a large swatch of relationship fabric across a small space. Plenty of kindness here, and depth, and humor, and light and dark. I love it, Gwen! Love them. I’m rooting for them.

*   *   *

Short Story: 137/365
“Good Country People” by Flannery O’ConnorSaturday morning, stovetop coffee, birds singing their heads off, and Flannery O’Connor. Sometimes you have to go back to what got you started in the first place.
 
*   *   *

Short Story: 136/365
“Gideon” by ZZ Packer in the Guardian

I love everything that ZZ Packer writes.

“‘Come closer,’ he’d say. And I’d want to and then again I wouldn’t want to. He always smelled different after being outside. Like a farm animal, or watercress. Plus he had a ton of calluses.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 135/365
“Bettering Myself” by Ottessa Moshfegh at Electric Literature

Recommended writer by The Paris Review, Moshfegh is winner of the $10,000 Plimpton Prize for Fiction given annually by The Paris Review for best new voices. I found the first person narrative desperate and matter-of-fact, sad and funny, as she struggles through her days and weeks. Be prepared. There is work for the reader here. We jump in then out of this narrative and all of our questions are not answered. Lorin Stein recommends reading it more than once. I like to use my imagination.

*   *   *

Short Story: 134/365
“Fronteras” by Lauren Guza Brown

I like teacher stories almost as much as I like child narrators. This short comes from the inaugural issue of Star 82. From their submissions page…

Star 82 Review especially looks for:
heart and language and change,
memorable characters,
specificity of scenes and objects,
overlooked moments rather than overly dramatic ones,
wordplay, wit, and humor but not vulgarity,
the delightful strangeness of daily life.

I especially find heat, specificity of scene and objects, overlooked moments, and delightful strangeness of daily life in this piece.

*   *   *

Short Story: 133/365 “Want” by Grace Paley reading on You Tube

When I read a bundle of a dozen or so stories on-line, I begin to long for the stories I love and return to in my books, so I begin to search for those favorites on-line. On this chilly day, I am sipping coffee late into the morning and watching Grace Paley at my kitchen counter. She makes me laugh, yes, but also to think deeply about quiet and tormenting, issues. Paley on stories: “You think you have a big imaginative head, but the fact of the matter is, even half the time you’re inventing it, you know it already.” Skip ahead to 3:00 or take time to hear the introduction that highlights Paley’s many talents and accomplishments.

*   *   *

Short Story: 132/365
“Escape Mushroom Style” by Trinie Dalton at Numero Cinq

How a mushroom photographer grapples with her dog’s cancer of the penis. Zany, sad, and endearing. This story is both personal and global.

*   *   *

Short Story: 131/365
“Digging” by Robin Romm in Narrative Magazine

Something about a child narrator draws me in and I find it’s then the voice of the piece that keeps me there. In this story, Maya digs a hole in her backyard where she can visit with her dead brother. I admired each story in Romm’s collection, “The Mother Garden” so I was happy to discover an on-line story of hers at Narrative.

“He picked at his lip skin. His face had millions of light and dark freckles. His hair was the color of buttermilk. She wanted to touch him, her big brother, Reggie, her brother who was there one night in his hospital bed, smelling his new smell of pill dust and sink cleaner, but in the morning was gone.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 130/365
“Stopping” by Sherri Flick at Corium

Happily, I spent the morning clicking links to on-line stories with no one clear direction in mind but to only remember my commitment to this project which I began 130 stories ago to educate myself about the on-line literary scene and to read and study a wide variety of short fiction. As “way leads on to way,” I found Corium through jmww which I found through Gargoyle which popped into my mind this morning for some strange reason I can’t seem to track.

In “Stopping,” I felt drawn in first by the poetic prose-style, and second by the tension created in the opening line. I wanted to find out about, “the force of all the days coming at her.”

Take a moment to find out, too.

*   *   *

Short Story: 129/365
“Incendi-heiress” by Caroljean Gavin at jmww

One of three winners at the 2012 AWP HEAT Flash Contest, this story was prompted by the word “fire’ and fell under the category of 1,000 or less word count. In short fiction, you often hear the motto: Every word had to count. But what’s even more true of this story is how every move if deftly employed: sharp poetic prose, a narrative arc, attention to detail, and using detail to promote both plot and character. It’s a fully-formed and satisfying read. This story is surely prize-worthy and one to study when thinking about crafting flash.

And, while at jmww, spend some time getting to know this on-line journal.

*   *   *

Short Story:128/265
“The Suit” by Jen Knox at Burrow Press Review

Thanks, Meg Tuite for posting this short story on FFC 2013 Short Story Month List Suggested by You where a group pf writers are posting some of their favorite stories.

I found “The Suit” reminiscent of stories by one of my favorite writers, Flannery O’Connor. An older woman, a bit of a busy-body, reveals how her imagined understanding of the world is shattered by reality. If only life were as hopeful as getting someone to smile.

*   *   *

Short Story: 127/365
“A Cup of Coffee” by Cindy Tracy Larsen at WOW

I have the pleasure of working with Cynthia on the Brattleboro Literary Festival which is slated for October 4-6 in Brattleboro, Vermont. If you live anywhere in the vicinity of southern Vermont, hop on planning for your fall foliage literary weekend. Lodgings go quickly. Author details are coming soon, but trust me, it will be amazing!

From Cynthia, Winner of the 2010 Flash Fiction Contest at WOW:

“Even though the baby has been steadily growing, it is still no bigger than a grain of rice. Important events are taking place, however. Right now, as she stacks the plastic jellies in a pyramid, the heart is being formed. She can feel it pulsing within her, a tiny beacon of light. Soon the heart will start pumping blood through her baby’s body—blood that is entirely its own. Not hers, not Ray’s.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 126/365
“All My Wrongs” by Sara Weiss Zimmerman at Literary Mama

Literary Mama is a journal devoted to the topic of motherhood. This story depicts the heartbreak of mistakes that one mother makes along the way. The dialog and gestures are vivid and realistic. It’s never too late to try and be a better parent.

*   *   *

Short Story: 125/365
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin at Virgina Commonwealth

I cannot help but love a story by Kate Chopin.

“She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.” Kate Chopin

•   •   •

Short Story: 124/365
“Unseasonable March” by Birdie Rose at Press 53

Winner of the 53-word Story Contest, “Unseasonable March” has conflict, character, place, mystery and tragedy, all in 53 words. Next contest deadline is May 7th. Try you hand at a 53 Word Story. Here’s Birdie Rose:

•   •   •

Short Story: 123/365
“Midnight Tuesday” at The American Scholar by Alix Olin

Another story by Alix Olin that leaves you with the question:
What would I have done?

*   *   *

Short Story:122/ 365
“Feeds” by Nalina Abhiraman at Fringe

Eight years string, Fringe will be posting its final issue in June 2013. All archives will remain on-line. Here is the winner of their Flash Fiction Contest, a lyrical fictional commentary (first person plural) on handheld devices at a party in the technological age. The piece asks us to answer this: What will become our bread.

“We pulled out devices, just to have something to do with our hands. We learned together. With each passing minute, new things poured into streams and feeds. New things were both river and fish.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 121/365
Louise Erdrich reading Lorrie Moore’s “Dance in America” on a podcast at The New Yorker with coffee on this sunny May Day
Happy Short Story Month!!!

What does Louise say about Lorrie’s work and how she writes literature for all readers? Thanks for when you publish women writers, New Yorker. More, please!

*   *   *

Short Story: 120/365
“Brief Encounter With the Household Gods” by David Huddle at Ploughshares

Here’s a sample piece from The Spring 2013 issue of Ploughshares edited by Major Jackson. I’m enthralled by any child narrator, her glimpse into the adult world through a perspective that reveals far more to the reader than the child understands herself.
“My mom says my dad’s grandfather used to talk about assassinating Roosevelt. I don’t ask her who’s Roosevelt. She knows those old names are just so much blah-blah to me. She says my dad’s always had this anger, but it’s never come out in the open like it is now. On payday he comes home early & rips open the envelope to see what they withheld. Then his face heats up & he starts shouting. My dad is not a big man, but when he’s mad, he fills up our whole house.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 117/365
“Drown” by Drew Balfour Jameson at The Drum

“You don’t read The Drum, you listen to it” and “a literary magazine for the ears” are some of the buzz phrases you’ll read at the site. This project is ten years old and the archives will keep me busy for a long time.

Drew Balfour Jameson is a Massachusetts writer and teacher at Grub Street, a center for writing and publishing in Boston. Drew’s piece is a fishing story told by a snarky youth narrator: my favorite. A young man attempts to get through a day of fishing with the new man in his mother’s life. 14:35 minutes

*   *   *

Short Story: 116/365
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne at American Literature

Hawthorne was born just outside of Boston in Salem, Mass. I love this classic an darkly comical tale. Sums up so much about society and humanity. In my mind, it stands the of time. No pun intended.

“Meanwhile the three gentlemen behaved in such a manner as proved that the water of the Fountain of Youth possessed some intoxicating qualities, unless, indeed, their exhilaration of spirits were merely a lightsome dizziness, caused by the sudden removal of the weight of years.” Hawthorne

*   *   *

Short Story: 115/365
Excerpt from the novel ‘Feed’ by M.t. Anderson at NPR

I have not included novel excerpts in the project so far, but as I am honoring Boston area writers and journals for the month of April, I wanted to showcase one of my favorite writers from the area, M.T. Anderson. Besides reading tons of adult fiction, I’ve spent the last 25 years teaching and raising children. I clocked in a lot of hours in the young adult section of the library before turning back to adult fiction. ‘Feed’ is a household favorite. Love you, Boston. With people like M.t Anderson in the neighborhood, you’ll be back to brightness again very soon.

*   *   *

Short Story: 114/365
“Cicada Season” by Meredith Luby at Redivider

Redivider is “the home of Emerson College’s graduate literary journal of new literature and art.” Love how the heat and dead bugs everywhere charge the memory of what took place that summer.

?In the south that year there were plump blue bugs with long clear wings in storm drains and on curbs. The dead were on car hoods until fall, when the swarms left, or the heat left. The baby hadn’t come. I grew and we just had to wait.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 113/365
“The Supreme Leader Dreams of Love” by Steve Almond at The Salon

From Boston writer Steve Almond…

“He stepped into a room and a great calm settled, like the veil a bride might wear, something to lure and disguise, and this was the sensation of balance, of knowing whom to embrace, whom to shun, whom to dismiss into the night with its perfume of balsam and gasoline.”

*   *   *

Short Story 112/365
“Miss Lora” by Junot Diaz at The New Yorker

Junot Diaz teaches creative fiction at MIT and is fiction editor at the Boston Review. He is widely published at the New Yorker. I am also posting an interview he had with Tom Ashbrook a couple of years ago on “Reading Disasters.” I enjoy hearing writers talk about life and thought you might like to as well. “Let’s look in and look deep.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 111/365
“Dinner Conversation” by Christian Aguiar at Boston Literary Magazine

A short piece that reminds me of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” in the way that one must read between the lines. There’s even a train in the name of the restaurant. Perhaps Aquiar wanted to play with a different outcome.

In the really short pieces I read, I find I pay closer attention to how details serve a story. In this story, I focused on the use of the tablecloth. How we are shown the character’s sensuous nature, the touch, the breeze, and how fleeting the moment.

Click the link and scroll down to “Dinner Conversation.”

*   *   *

Short Story 110/365
Two Short-Shorts by Lauren Laura van den Berg at Guernica

Today is the marriage celebration of Lauren van den Berg and Paul Yoon, two fiction writers who work I greatly admire. They are marrying in Cambridge, Mass. and I am pleased that their bright love will grace the Boston area today. Lauren’s stories often deal with challenges in relationships, but remember, she writes fiction. Here’s to honoring her work on this special.

*   *   *

Short Story: 109/365
“A&P” by John Updike at Tiger Town (?)

John Updike lived and wrote in the greater Boston in the town of Ipswich, where I visited the other day on a trip to the coast.

“In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I’m in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don’t see them until they’re over by the bread. The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not.” John Updike

•   •   •

Short Story: 108/365
“The Gulf” by Tania James at The Boston Review

A child narrator tells the story of meeting her estranged father for the first time. What we are let in on regarding the family story is only what’s seen through the daughter’s POV. Masterful telling, true to life, makes this story memorable in my mind. Intrigued to read more of this writer, I found her website and am posting a link to her work in the comment section in case you are, too.

•   •   •

Short Story: 107/365
“Little Marvels” by Julie Innis at Post Road

A lit mag review at New Pages says this about Post Road…”The magazine covers an array of tastes and aesthetics, and even though it has only been around a little over a decade, it reads like a silverback journal that proved itself many years ago.” John Baum

I browsed and found this gem which turned out to be a Notable Selection in BEST AMERICAN NON-REQUIRED READING.

*   *   *

Short Story: 106/365
“Put to Sleep” by Pamela Painter in Narrative Magazine

Starting today and for the rest of April, I am featuring stories written by Boston area writers or stories found in Boston-based lit mags. Here’s Pamela Painter who lives in Boston and teaches in the MFA program at Emerson College.

There are dog stories, and then there are good dog stories, or should I say, stories that effectively feature dogs to support character development as well as entertain. When the dog is called Bucknell who “was named for the college whose football team Jackson’s father’s team could never beat” then you know you’ve found one of those really good dog stories about people. Once again, I appreciate Pamela’s subtle humor.

*   *   *

Short Story: 105/365
“Bijou” by Kali VanBaale at Northwind

Today’s short story is from another Vermont College alum. This story does a great job telling the bigger story between the lines, which works well since the protagonist has a secret and deals with matters on the sly. Love the ending!

*   *   *

Short Story: 104/365
“Tennis; an Extracurricular Activity” by Angela K Small at Front Porch Review

Congratulations to VCFA alum Angela Small for the publication of her short story about a mother who must navigate loneliness and a roller coaster of emotions in a strange new place, her peevish teenage son her only source of society until…

Vivid imagery makes reading this feel like I am in the woman’s shoes: experiencing the frustration, the thrill, and the inevitable fall.

•   •   •

Short Story: 103/365
“The Drowning” by Edward J. Delaney at The Atlantic

The beautiful story seems wrought rather than written. I was blown away: to first feel deeply immersed in one moment in time, having assumed the narrative present, only to be transported to another, which brought home the moment’s impact on a future.

*   *   *

Short Story 102/365
“My Girlfriend” by Mima Simic at Transcript

Thanks to Tim Horvath who let me in on this short story about a woman with a blind girfriend by Croatian author, Mima Simic, after I posted “Cathedral.” It won’t take but a moment to see the interesting connection between these two stories. The conclusion explains why Tim was eager to share. I’d love to hear what people think so feel free to comment.

And, thanks also to Tim, I can add another source of great stories to my ever-increasing pile. About ‘Transcript’…

“Its aim is to promote quality literature written in the ‘smaller’ languages and to give wider circulation to material from small-language literary publications through the medium of English, French and German.”

*   *   *

Short Story 101/365
“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

Most of us have read this story. After reading 100 stories on-line, I am missing how i used to have time to go back into my favorite print collections to re-read stories that have stood the test of time for a good reason. So if you care to re-read or have not yet read “Cathedral” and you can’t put your hands readily on a print copy, here’s the link…

*   *   *

Short Story: 100/365
“Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton

To celebrate my 100th short story, I just re-read one of my comforting old favorites, “Roman Fever.” Two ladies acting quite delightfully lady like, discussing the view, their daughters, and then, BOOM!

*   *   *

Short Story: 99/367
“Yurt” by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum at The New Yorker

Rainy day time for a longer story. Here’s one of my favorite short stories from Sarah’s linked short story collection ‘Ms. Hempel Chronicles.’ I felt these stories gave such heart-wrenching and funny insight into the life of a young school teacher. As I think back on the story collections I know that show how a writer can do funny and painful in the same deft stroke, this collection is up there with my top most referenced books. Enjoy!

*   *   *

Short Story 98/365
“The Landing” by Lydia Davis at The Telegraph

Sitting by the Lamoille River in Johnson at dusk with a chocolate bar, I enjoyed Lydia Davis stories having just purchased a sweet fat book, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis from Ebenezer Books.

*   *   *

Short Story: 97/365
“The Gymnast” by Sophie Kipner at Kugelmass

The motto at Kugelmass is… Seriously. Funny.

“The Gymnast” is a dating story (or at least a dating fantasy story) read aloud by the author and accompanied by a slide show sketches and music. Question: If a gun and ammo shop is located next store to a kid gym in a story in the first scene, does a gun have to go off before the end?

*   *   *

Short Story: 96/365
“Cat Therapy” by Claire Guyton

VCFA alum and short story writer delivers this deftly-calculated tale with humor and dark shadow. Favorites: Literary Anthropomorphism, Multiple Choice Tests, and Wrenching Conclusions.

*   *   *

Short Story: 95/365
“Mapreading” by Dan Coxon at Spartan

Here’s a cool daddy story by Daddy Cool’s Dan Coxon. He had me on the first sentence…

“The day sperm arrived I was pulling a double shift.”

Way to put fathers “squarely back on the parenting map,” Dan.

*   *   *

Short Story: 94/365
“Holy Fire” by Zachary Morris at Spartan

A week in the life of a forlorn friendless man. A weave of action and stream of consciousness or in this case, self-consciousness, as the close third narrator observes his life as it is mirrored through his behaviors and the actions of unsuspecting others.

*   *   *

Short Story: 93/365
“Is That Rain” by Leesa Cross-Smith at Spartan

Leesa Cross-Smith is editor of WhiskeyPaper, a lit mag I’ve heard of but have not looked into. After reading this story, and assuming that the quality of her sensibilities as a writer match the quality of the work she accepts in her publication, I’m heading over there right now.

*   *   *

Short Story: 92/365
“Missed Approach” by Jon Lasser at Spartan

Life is too short for regrets, as the saying goes. The protagonist in ‘Missed Approach’ moves quickly to an epiphany in this 315 word story. I admire the way the opening lines compare the landing strip to a maw, showing how the passenger feels as he approaches a difficult task ahead. In fact, the airplane landing does most of the work to show character arc. A good example of action mirroring emotion.

*   *   *

Short Story: 91/365
“Destiny” by Ann Teplick at Spartan

It’s April 1st, so the Spring issue of Spartan is out from creator and editor Ross McMeekin. His motto…Minimalist Prose. No strays. Four times a year, 5 shorts coming in under 2,000 words. Flash. Shorts. Sudden.

Each day this week, I’m featuring one of the stories from Spartan Spring 2013. 5 short stories, one each day.

Today’s story comes from Ann Teplick, poet, playwright, novelist, and short story writer. You can find a little bit of all of that in this piece. The lyricism, sounds, and mystery of a poem, the staging of a scene in setting details, and the breadth of a character whose story stretches before and beyond the printed words here. I walk away from this piece with a picture in my mind and a feeling and a question. What next? Answer: The reader decides.

*   *   *

Short Story 90/365
“Fort Apache” by Alan Heathcock

Read this riveting story at Zoetrope: All-Story from Alan Heathcock’s collection VOLT. Then watch the trailer for a film adaptation by Addison Mehr. If you live in or near New York, you can see the film premier of Fort Apache at NYU on Friday, April 5th. Pretty cool when an awesome short story gets made into an equally awesome film! Double awesomeness!

*   *   *

Short Stories: 85-89
“The Lady With the Pet Puggle” by Kristopher Jansma at 5 Chapters

From the Website: About 5 Chapters: FiveChapters publishes a short story
in five parts each week. Visit daily!

In this 5-part serialized short story, Kristopher Jansma, author of the new novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, accounts a rollicking tongue-in-cheek adventure about a jilted English teacher, lovelorn, as he navigates heartbreak and relieves his hurt feelings in e-mails to the very object of his previous affection.

Read it in parts, one part each day this week, or if you have the time, read the whole story to it’s satisfying and hilarious conclusion and see what other stories may be read at 5 Chapters.

*   *   *

Short Story: 84/365
Flannery O’Connor reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find” in 1959

*   *   *

Short Stories: 81, 82, 83/365
Three Flash Fictions by Teague Bohlen at Superstition [Review]

A black and white photograph by Britten Traughber accompanies each of the three flash pieces by Teague Bohlen. Each of the three stories stand alone. Narrators change. But I link them up. I can’t help myself; I look for a story within a story–the 6 degrees. My imagination does what it wants. Perhaps the girl remembering the boy from the lake in the first story is the wife of the architect in the second. Maybe the unremarkable friend posed in the group photograph at the mud hole is the real estate agent in the third story. Maybe we read them together to think about memory and be reminded of ourselves.

*   *   *

Short Story: 80/365
“Runner” by Marissa Croon at Camera Obscura

At Camera Obscura, they feature a regular contest called Bridge the Gap. They post two photographs between which is phtoshopped a bridge. The contests asks writers to craft a story inspired to ‘write yourself across the bridge” which translates into make a connection between the two images by telling a story. Here’s the winning story…

*   *   *

Short Story: 79/365
“Let It Snow” David Sedaris in The New Yorker (2003)

An oldie but goodie and I’m trying to keep a good attitude about the fresh foot of snow recently blown against my windows and door. David Sedaris helps my good attitude. This last squall even dusted through my screen porch which now looks like a fancy pastry.

*   *   *

Short Story: 78/365
“I’ve Looked Everywhere” by Susan Jackson Rodgers at The Hinge Literary Center

I still read paper short stories, too. When I find an author, I see if I can find a piece by him or her on-line to add to the project. Right now, I’m reading ‘Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6’ by Susan Jackson Rodgers published by Press 53. Susan calls this her “list” story. One of the people from the comment section talks about Susan’s use of negative space. In fact, the comment dialog following this short reveals how much a flash story can do with few words and I felt like I had been with other people instead of alone in my solitary writing space.

*   *   *

Short Story: 77/365
“Casino” by Alix Ohlin at Guernica

A longer short story about sisters and judgment and how suffering is suffering and how we turn to people when we need them even if we only sort of want them and mostly, about loyalty and basic descent humanity, what a person will do for another when the chips are down. Honest fiction.

•   •   •

Short Stories: 76/365
“Monsters” by Len Kuntz at Flash Fiction Chronicles

I met Len at the AWP Heat reading a week or so ago in Boston. The guy has over 700 stories out there for the world to read. His collection will debut in 2014. Here is The Slant Interview at Flash Fiction Chronicles with Len which concludes with his flash piece “Monsters” inspired by Michelle Reale’s flash challenge to make 9 words work together in one piece. “Exhibition, bombast, fingernails, spirals, turbulence, plasma, barrage, conjecture and, last but not least, guts.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 75/365
“Choir Practice” by Abby Frucht

In this Story of the Week by Abby Frucht, author of the 2012 story collection, ‘The Bell at the End of the Rope’ published by Narrative Library, a childhood memory crops up during an accidental field trip decades later.

“…mistakes sometimes turned out to be better in the end than the things they stood in for.”

Abby is a teacher in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program where I had the pleasure to hear her read her stories out loud. Abby taught me to think about stories at the sentence level and sentences at the word level. Choose from 6 Abby’s on her author page at Narrative.

*   *   *

Short Story: 74/365
“Evaline” by James Joyce at The Guardian

“Singing in her chains like the sea.”
Chopping onions, a wet March snow greying the evening light, listening to Sebastian Barry read and remark on this third person narrative, with all the feel of the first person, and the classic Joycean epiphany.
About Joyce: “The best packer of the literary suitcase in all of history. He can get it all in and travel lightly.” (Barry)

*   *   *

Short Story 73/365
“Pilot of the Year to Pilot of the Day” by Pamela Painter at Agni

Reading this story makes me wonder about the ecology of an imagination. Here, a character, a woman on a return flight home, has retrieved numerous private journals stored at a relative’s house. Enter, a Pilot of the Year, those mini-bottles of liquor, a touch-and-go landing, and some eventual letting go. From where did this story spring? And how does Ms. Painter tell a snippet from a life-time of failed relationships with such charm and grace, not to mention humor? Have a nice ride.

*   *   *

Short Stories 65-72/365

Micr-O Fiction: 8 Provocative Writers Tell Us a Story in 300 Words or Less

I’ll be taking a short break to attend the AWP and catch up after all of my travels. I will be reading off-line for the next 8 days. In the spirit of getting my homework in ahead of time, here are 8 micro fictions from famous writers to enjoy at O, The Oprah Magazine. Don’t be put off by the high-end production and ads. There are some real gems in this line-up. Let me know what you like and why in comments below. Happy reading!

•   •   •

Short Story 64/365
“The Common Cuckoo” by Samuel Patterson Stoddard at anderbo.com

This short-short is told through a second person interior monologue that depicts a new father and all of the doubt, shock and confusion that comes along with the birth of a child. Intermingled with statistical data, a form with which he converses, readers must decide who is the real antagonist.

*   *   *

Short Story 63/365
“Into the Woods” by Cynthia Newberry Martin at Storyglossia

I stumbled upon this short story at Storyglossia, an on-line journal going back to 2003, when I was perusing its lengthy archives. Cynthia’s story immediately places you in a singular moment, a singular event, yet expands the interior landscape of the character to far exceed what’s happening on the exterior landscape. I admire how tension is sustained as the narrative lens zooms in and out.

*   *   *

Short Story 62/365
“Untitled” by Rebecca Morris at Prime Number

This story is told in 53 words. That’s it. In 53 words you will find the following…setting, character, description, plot. You will also understand a family dynamic with bittersweet undertones, a dark side, if you choose, and a coming-of-age. Seriously, all in 53 words. I’d post a quote but that would be the whole piece and then you wouldn’t get to visit Prime Number Magazine published by Press 53.
Sheesh! My review was longer than this story.

*   *   *

Short Story 61/365
“Snake Eyes” by Michael Gillan Maxwell at The Molotov Cocktail

The Molotov Cocktail has the motto A PROJECTILE FOR INCENDIARY FLASH FICTION

In this piece, we are drawn right in by the chicken on the bus and left to figure how what happens next. Kathy Fish says that in flash fiction “you come in late and leave early. ” I felt this piece supports her descriptor of flash.
Thanks, Meg Tuite, for the tip off. I hadn’t hear of this “lit zine.”

*   *   *

Short Story 60/365
“Of the Revolution” by Brock Clarke at New England Review

A beautiful father and son story depicting an difficult conversation which takes place on Monument Square. It’s about growing up and heroes and the undercurrent of hope in an impossible situation.

“I should mention that my father and I had been talking a lot those days about what I was going to be when I grew up. Except he’d never put it that way, exactly. Instead he’d kept saying, “I worry about what’s going to happen to you, Charlie. I worry about it so much.” He said this in the morning before we both left the house. He said it at night as I was in bed, waiting for him to say good night to me and to turn off the light. He said it at random times, on random days. He said it before he and my mother had their fights, and after them, and sometimes in the middle of them, too.” (Brock Clark)

*   *   *

Short Story: 59/365
“Snowed In” by Gary Percesepe

Can a ten-year marriage be saved based on the memory from the first year?

About 12 Stories “Once the editors find twelve stellar stories [under 1,500 words], an issue is born; as such, issues are published irregularly and represent the editors’ true claim on what exemplifies the best in short fiction today.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 58/365
“A Country Woman” by Monica McFawn at Passages North

Another dreamy story to relish as the snow piles your hen house, or the rain batters your car windows, or the sun swells your spring seeds. Notice the distance of narration while appreciating how closely felt the reader comes to the sentiments of what we lose when we look away.

Opening lines…
“There is a country woman now among us. We can see her from most of our backyards. Whatever you lack she will exemplify—that is, if you are slothful and prone to depression she will be whistling and weeding in the single place in her yard that you can see from the recliner you have not left since last night.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 57/365
“The Dead” by James Joyce at The Literature Network

I know I just posted Joyce a couple of weeks ago, but we are expecting more snow to fall in Vermont. Whenever the snow begins, I think of this story. If you have a snow day tomorrow, make a cup of black tea and read this longer short story. If you haven’t the time, at least read this final passage.

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” (joyce)

*   *   *

Short Story: 56/365
“Emergency” by Denis Johnson from The New Yorker (Archive 9/16/91)
Read by Tobias Wolff

Each month, a guest author chooses a story by another writer to record as a podcast, along with a brief interview with fiction editor Deborah Treisman

*   *   *

Short Story: 55/365
“A Short Story About the Academy Awards” by Tim Carvell at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

I don’t have television, but from what I can tell from Facebook posts, the Oscars aren’t going that well. Here’s some comic relief from McSweeney’s.

*   *   *

Short Story: 54/365
“Our House is Open” by Michelle Reale at NANO Fiction

NANO Fiction (330 words or fewer) just invited us all to their table at the AWP Conference in Boston next week. I hope to see you visiting there at the same time that I do.

Their current feature story will take a minute or two to read, but a couple of days to digest as it lingers and haunts, as good flash has the tendency to do.

*   *   *

Short Story: 53/365
“Voyeur of Rain” by Stuart Dybek, a recording at Indiana Review

In honor of my lay-over in Chicago, I looked up one of my favorite Chicago writers, Stuart Dybek, and found this.

Wow! Hear the man himself. Boy can he read a story or what?
His voice alone, low and gravelly, give me satisfying chills, as I watch the wind whip across the tarmac. But the story…creepy, sad, dark and real. An interview with the author follows the reading.

*  *  *

Short Story: 52/365
“Lost and Found” by Russell Banks at Narrative Magazine

Narrative Magazine, out of San Fransisco, is a well-funded literary website that features fiction, non-fiction, reviews, and publishes book-length manuscripts as well. They post an on-line story of the week, run seasonal contests, and generally do what they can to promote both emerging and experienced writers. This piece comes out of ‘American Standard’ which comes out in May of this year.

*   *   *

Short Story: 51/365
“Sin-Tra-La” by Diane Lefer at Willow Springs

Diane represents both VCFA and California this week with her story in Willow Springs, a 30 year literary magazine out of Spokane Washington. I met Diane at Vermont College my first day of the program. We talked over dinner about all matter under the sun. What I admire most about Diane is her ability to connect passionately with people in her one-to-one interactions while encompassing the entire human race in her socio-political endeavors. She has great heart and humor, as does this piece.

*   *   *

Short Story: 50/365
Short Fictions by Ana Maria Shua translated by Steven J Stewart at Catamaran Literary Reader

Catamaran is located in the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz where I spent the day. Their banner reads: California Regional Themes. Writers and Artists from Everywhere.

These six linked short shorts, esoteric by nature, have a circus theme. I spent the day in Santa Cruz in frigid temperatures–frigid for California anyway–strolling the empty eerie boardwalk complete with a vintage wooden roller coaster and a 1950s monorail with cars of primary colors. Felt like another world, just like these stories.

*   *   *

Short Story: 49/365
“Down River” by Anna Fonte at Eleven Eleven

Sitting here on a rainy day in Berkeley with a cup of tea and found this Berkeley writer at Eleven Eleven. This one sets up tension from the beginning lines. It kept my stomach buzzing and my heart on alert for the duration of the fifteen-minute read. Sad, though, so sad. Fits the gloomy Wednesday feel.

*   *   *

Short Stories: 47 and 48/365
Sarah Rose Etter and Amber Sparks read each others’ flash fiction at Storytapes

Googled San Francisco Lit Mags…tagged flash fiction…clicked Put Some Flash Fiction in Your Head Phones..clicked Story Tapes…found Story Tape #5…

“The Wives Are Turning Into Animals” by Amber Sparks is brilliant! I read this story in print the first time around when I reviewed Amber’s collection for New Pages.
“Stranger Sleep” by Sarah Rose Etter is lyrical and passionate. I heard Sarah read at the Brattleboro Lit Festival last fall.

Now I get to delight in these, creations akin to bedtime stories for
grown-ups.

*   *   *

Short Story 46/365
“Drouth (1944)” by Wendell Berry at Threepenny at Threepenny Review

“A drouth is an event of the atmosphere of the earth. It is also an event of the atmosphere of the human mind, which suffers a disturbance that affects everything. It affects the meanings of memory and history. It affects one’s sense of the future.” (Charlie Hardy, narrator)

The next run of stories come from the literary projects out of the Bay Area, where I am soaking up sun and art and good food and friends.

*   *  *

Short Story: 45/365
“Lemons” by Frances Lefkowitz at 100 Word Story

I wish I had written this.

*   *   *

Short Story: 44/365
“Immortalizing John Parker” by Robin Elizabeth Black at Freight Stories

Take time for this longer read. I first heard of Robin’s collection ‘If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This’ from Cynthia Newberry Martin at Catching Days. I have a hardback copy of the book and I have turned to it and to Robin’s essays at Beyond the Margins as a regular supplement to my MFA education. I also had the pleasure of receiving some astute and generous feedback from Robin on a story of mine that ended up placing second in the 2012 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. As a reader, you will be riveted by the emotional twists and turns in this piece. As a writer, you will say, “Wow!”

From the opening paragraph…

“It isn’t a new sensation. For the past many weeks, Clara Feinberg has found it harder and harder to paint human faces, her bread and butter task. Increasingly, she is struggling with what feels to her like a repugnance to the act. Though it’s all very sophomoric, she believes. Her own thoughts on the subject sound to her like the voices of pretentious but earnest youngsters debating the meaning of life.” (Robin Black)

*   *   *

Short Story: 43/365
“Scapegoat” by Michelle Coppola from Short Story America on Quiddity

Hear this story in a podcast that begins with a brief piece on short stories in America, then and now, and the organization Short Story America (with Tim Johnston), followed by the story itself. The rich text is read beautifully by Teresa Bruce.

This is a dog story, a love story, a marriage story, and so much more.
Make a pot of tea, grab a Kleenex, and listen.

*   *   *

Short Story: 42/365
“Zorba’s” by Mathieu Cailler at Scissors and Spackle

Today’s story features VCFA’s Mathieu Cailler’s heart-warming and funny story about a couple on their way to a baby shower. It’s refreshing to read a piece where the main problem is what to name a baby. But there’s more here, too, the underlying patterns of loving and nurturing in a young couple who face the usual hopes and worries before them.

*   *   *

Short Story: 41/365
“Flotsam” by Diane Cook at Redivider

‘Redivider’ is produced by the graduate students in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department at Emerson College. They offer one piece of fiction on-line out of each of their print journal archives. “Flotsam” is from the most recent issue. The protagonist grapples with a painful dilemma when strange articles of clothing appear in her laundry. Realism and fabulism blend.

*   *   *

Short Story: 40/365
“Nobody” by Tom Kealey at Sunday Rumpus Fiction

Thanks to The Rumpus for putting up this short story by Tom Kealey from his upcoming story collection ‘Thieves I’ve Known’ winner of the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award. I particularly enjoyed the stories within the story aspect to this one, as Merrill and Nate let their imaginations run lose on the streets at night. And there is an important sibling connection going on here.

“Nate looks ahead. There are a few more houses, though their father’s trailer is still a mile past the neighborhood. Nate spits. This is a habit he has taken up recently. It annoys Merrill to no end. She suddenly shivers. It’s cold out. The stories – especially the creepy chair story for some reason – had kept her warm. She feels as if a thin ghost has passed very quickly and uncomfortably through her. When she remembers this walk, years later, she’ll remember Nate as the one with the shivers.” (Tom Kealey)

*   *   *

Short Story: 39/365
“Crushed Ice” by Gary Fincke at SmokeLong Quarterly

A little romance, a little mystery, a little bit of cherry ice and something big and sad.

*   *   *

Short Story: 38/365
“Morton Bonsey” by Randall Brown at 3:AM Magazine

Just home from Mardis Gras where, for a time, people become someone who they usually aren’t, or perhaps they become more of who they really. Either way, for revelers in mask, fact and fiction may blur. Crossing those lines are what short story writers get to do all day long, but rarely does a story remind us as we read, how the writer might consider the ways in which his characters will behave.

*   *   *

Short Story: 37/365
“Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot” by Robert Olen Butler at Web Del Sol

Sometimes an epiphany does not comes until after death. In this humorously poignant story, a husband reincarnates as a parrot and his bought and taken home by his human wife where he must endure the sight of her with new lovers. What bothered him then, still bothers him now, and he is as powerless as ever to do anything about it.

*   *   *

Short Story: 36/365
“Araby” by James Joyce at Fiction (the eserver collection)

“Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen. When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. I ran to the hall, seized my books and followed her. I kept her brown figure always in my eye and, when we came near the point at which our ways diverged, I quickened my pace and passed her. This happened morning after morning. I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” (Joyce)

*   *   *

Short Story: 35/365
“Violet” by Amy Porter at First Inkling

Straying from the strict sense of the form “short story” to share some narrative art I discovered over at First Inkling. I’m not sure if this piece is fact or fiction. I believe it is a visual memoir of sorts. But in this gorgeous visual homage to ancestor, I find a story. I can’t wait to see what else comes out of this project dedicated to publish student work.

*   *   *

Short Story: 34/365
“The Long Beep” by Casey Hannan at Wigleaf
It’s late. I am traveling and I’m a bit behind on my story updates. So when what I am wanting is a good quickie, I turn to ‘Wigleaf’ where all stories are under 1,000 words. But, wait, not so fast. Even though it’s past midnight Vermont time, I remember, I am still safely within day 34 mark if I count New Orleans time, which I do. So I go back and read this one again, and then again. Length isn’t everything. There is so much here.

*   *   *

Short Story: 33/365
“Up High in the Air” by Laura van den Berg at Boston Review

Somehow I ended up with Laura’s story collection ‘What the World Will Look Like When All of the Water Leaves Us’ on my Kindle of all places. I read “Up High in the Air” while I worked out at the gym. Then I went back and reread it more slowly. Before I knew it, I had run the treadmill for 45 minutes and experienced not one second of boredom or gasping pain. Now, whenever I want to forget I am exercising, I read from Lauren’s collection. I get what I call, my short story work-out. I am so happy to be able to share the on-line version of “Up High in the Air” with you.

*   *   *

Short Story: 32/365
“Alchemy” by Jodi Paloni at Monkeybicycle

So I wasn’t planning on using this group for self-promotion, but since I happen to have a new flash fiction piece up over at Monkeybicycle today, what better way for me to open up a new month of reading shorts on-line than by celebrating and sharing it here. Thanks for reading!

*   *   *

Short Story 31/365
“Hell-Heaven” by Jhumpa Lahiri at The New Yorker

Maybe I miss holding the book in my hands or maybe I’m nostalgic for the writers I studied during my MFA program, but today, as I did yesterday, I re-visited one of my favorite story collections and found a way to share one of them with you. All of Lahiri’s stories are lovely, really, very lovely. The way our narrator views her mother in this one, again, the child observant point-of-view, enthralls me.

*   *   *

Short Story: 30/365
“Rose” by Dylan Landis at r.kv.r.y

I was so pleased to find this coming-of-age story on-line from one of my favorite linked story collections, ‘Normal People Don’t Live Like This.’
“Rose” is a story about Leah’s weekend away from home at a friend’s where the lifestyle encourages their teenage exploits.

“No one at Oly’s had private drawers or private shirts or even private beds, because Mrs. Prideau and Oly and Pansy shared two beds in the one big bedroom and didn’t have space for private anything. Sometimes this made Leah so jealous she could die and sometimes it made her want to go home and straighten her desk.”

Enjoy a taste of Dylan’s finely crafted fictional world, New York City in the 1970s, and then get your hands on her book.

*   *   *

Short Story: 29/365
Wings, 1989 by Robin MacArthur at Shenandoah

From the long list of all that I love about this story by my talented neighbor up the hill, I’ll pick three: 1.) how the broader sentiment of rural landscape is crafted within a small backyard scene, 2.) the way in which character is portrayed through the steady eyes of the observant child narrator, and 3.) the liminal quality of the piece in general, how boundaries between mother and daughter merge and part, how magical realism bleeds with imagination, and where time is both then and now. Take your slow old time with this one and you won’t be one bit sorry.

*   *   *

Short Story 28/365
“Torque” by A.K. Benninghofen at Monkeybicycle

This short shows, doesn’t tells. The title pretty much explains how the scenes of candid domesticity take hold and twist you on the inside.

Thrilled to get to know this journal which features 52 Weeks/52 Interviews, all about “literary things.” And pleased to learn today that one of my very shorts will appear on their on-line fiction roll some day soon.

*   *   *

Short Story 27/365
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson at American Literature: 20 Great American Short Stories

On-line doesn’t have to mean right now. A variety of websites re-print classic stories, nice and handy, for our virtual perusal. Today, I read a piece by David Abrams at The Quivering Pen about an upcoming thriller set in Shirley Jackson’s mansion in Bennington, Vermont, the same town where Jackson’s highly anthologized short story takes place (about 20 minutes from my home). The chill of the morning just outside my frozen door set the tone for a re-visit of this dark tale.
It’s worth the re-read and if you’ve never read it, you simply must.

*   *   *

Short Story 26/365
“Toyota” by Dave Housley at Hobart

Found on Hobart’s web pages under the category “Commercial Fiction,” we have here a snapshot of the tension between a guy with a neighbor, a guy with his wife, mainly, though, a guy with himself. Tension is managed by what the protagonist doesn’t think or say, how his wife doesn’t respond, how there isn’t a single witness to his ache. It reminds me of the negative space in visual art.

*   *   *

Short Story 25/365
“Jesus Doesn’t Love You and Neither Do I” by Heather Fowler at Short Story America

Heather Fowler, two days in a row, as one thing leads to another. I love the turning of electronic pages and the sound of whooosing paper as I read this longer short story at Short Story America’s Contemporary Library.
“Jesus Doesn’t Love you…” involves narcolepsy, a town bully, and a priest giving CPR, gasping for forgiveness. Mostly it’s about first love.

*   *   *

Short Story 24/365
“People With Holes” by Heather Fowler at A cappella Zoo

I may not emerge for days now that I have discovered A capella Zoo.
Anne Wolfe’s review of lit mags at New Pages says this…
“This journal is so refreshing that some readers might forget to take their Prozac.” It’s winter in Vermont, so I could use a healthy stimulant. As for my discovery of Heather Fowler, I feel I have just stepped my big toe in an amusement park water fountain with glinting coins drawing me. “Reach in,” her stories seem to tell me.

*   *   *

Short Story 23/365
“Winter Clothes” by Andrea Dulanto at The Kenyon Review
Runner Up in the 2012 Short Fiction Contest

In deference to record-low temperatures today in both Ohio and Vermont, and in celebration of my being accepted into the Kenyon Review Summer Writing Workshop, I have chosen to share “Winter Clothes” which may be read or heard read by the writer. Cold can define air temperature at bus stops as well as relationships. Sparse prose can give you a chill while you sit in a warm house.

*   *   *

Short Story: 22/365
“Vestigial Features” by Mary Stein at The Brooklyn Rail

I love a dog story in which the dog serves a real purpose. In Mary’s story, Sisyphus (the dog) adds dimension to the main character. How Odette sees Sisyphus shows how she sees the world and, in turn, how she sees herself. Introducing, Mary Stein…

“I pace the circumference of my kitchen while my dog, Sisyphus, follows me. Josh says it’s a habit he adopted from me; Odette—the nomadic telephone talker. But the pacing is only one of his many nervous habits. Shortly after I adopted him, Sisyphus was diagnosed with Happy Tail Syndrome.Because we refused the doggie Xanax, he thwacks it metronomically against the walls and cupboards as he follows me past the oven.”

*   *   *

Short Stories 20/265 and 21/365
“When the Time Comes” and “Shades of Gray” and more by Robert Vaughan from the archives of Lake Effect: Flash Fiction Friday Fiction

I loved this 12-minute interview in which Robert Vaughan reads 6 flash pieces and talks about his chosen literary form. Great stuff, his fiction: vivid snapshots, characters shining through in the briefest of “plots”, carefully chosen-details, and his reflections on flash is passionate and illuminating. This podcast has been around for awhile, but if you missed it, and you want a better understanding of the origin and future of very short fiction, I think you’ll find this helpful.

*   *   *

Short Story 19/365
“Study for the New Fictional Science” by Amber Sparks at The Good Men Project

I first read this story in an advance review copy of the paper book which is now out in print. Told in second person, I felt one step removed from the pain of the narrator’s plight, which was a good thing, that distance. What we have here is an eventual acceptance, but, wait, no, there is still hope. In life after high school, fictional science wins, and guys like this narrator get their crushes, and, yes, become invincible. Thank goodness we will “never be the same as others.”

*   *   *

Short Story 18/365
“The Dauphin” by Marc Sheehan

Today’s short-short is the winner of Round 9 in NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction contest. You can read it or listen to it or both.

“President Agnew is tired after his daily briefing and ready to watch a re-run of The Love Boat. Next to his glass of jug wine on the kitchen table rests The Football, an old scuffed Detroit Lions model. He refuses to go anywhere without it. He often complains about the responsibility of knowing the nuclear codes.”

*   *   *

Short Story 17/365
“Winter” by Aimee Bender in Fiction Southeast

“On the street the air is fifty knives of cold.” I can relate. And the way Aimee Bender takes the plane of normal and tweaks it, creates dimension, and then flattens you in the final sentence.

*   *  *

Short Story 16/365
“Delta Fifty-Five” and many more…by Pam Houston

Today, I watched my short story on Vimeo read by the author herself. I love Pam’s stories, have read them for years, but her new book ‘Contents May Have Shifted’ have really come alive for me since attending a reading by Pam in Manchester, VT this past summer. So I was so happy to find this video of Pam reading from her latest book which is now out in paper from Norton!

*   *   *

Short Story 15/365
“What Fills a Balloon” by Ross McMeekin at Storyglossia

Flash fiction by my friend and writing buddy, Ross McMeekin, editor of Spartan. I first heard Ross read this at a VCFA student reading and could see and feel the scene before I was startled into a poignant moment of odd and honest fiction.

*   *   *

Short Story 14/365
“Leftovers” by Nickolas Butler at Narrative

Butler’s prose manages to sooth and sting in the same motion. In this aftermath story, grief layers and festers, like the cassoulet in the back of the refrigerator.

“Already they have filled a dumpster with her things. The dusty furniture, the sun-bleached wall hangings, her knickknacks, old socks, old underwear. Mason had gone through her clothing. Renee refused. He had thrown out her silk stockings, her brassieres, her negligees. Dispossessed the wire hangers of their clothing.”

*   *   *

Short Story 13/365
“Firebug” by Katie Cortese at Carve Magazine

This longer piece is a fabulistic coming-of-age story in which we are asked to suspend our disbelief for the 20-minute read. Pyrokinesis. Is it a pre-determined disability, a hormonal phase, or something we eventually grow out of? A beautiful love story, sad and funny and redeeming.

*   *   *

Short Story 12/365
“My Monkey and Me” by Laura Burnes at Sleet Magazine

A complete flip from yesterday’s entry, this piece of flash is just right for charming the reader. It covers humor, adventure, and loneliness. It’s clear from the title who the supporting character is, but you’ll be surprised by what he does, and what I mean by that is, what he does for the story.

*   *   *

Short Story 11/365
“In the Red Room” by Paul Bowles at Classic Shorts

Tonight, I felt like a classic so I went hunting on-line to see if there was a good site that featured a selection of classic short stories and the first site I came upon was Classic Shorts. It’s pretty straightforward. When you’re sitting at your computer and your library isn’t right a hand, visit this site for a classics fix.

I thrill in reading a twisted mystery that builds tension without overdoing the drama. Told in simple prose, this straight-forward narrative is both spine-tinging and sweet, exotic and domestic. Enjoy the Gothic bed chamber and a triptik of creepy portraits in this story. I love the classics.

*   *   *

Short Story 10/365 ~ A non-fiction piece…
“My Father at the Mountainside” by Jacob White at Phoebe

Here’s a flash writer who knows how to pack one big two-day story into a space smaller than the size of a cowboy boot. The rhythm of this piece “gambols.” Herein this sentence are some of my favorite words of the day…

“My stride grew increasingly bowlegged and bandy, and the left side of my mouth stretched wider and wider around the word as around an accreting tumble of chaw.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 9/365
“Sleeping Out” by Cassie Gonzales at The Kenyon Review

Here, I introduce a wonderful phenomenon of on-line literature…the read aloud. “Sleeping Out,” winner of the 2012 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest may be heard read by the author on the website. I love to be read to and this particular story–the language, the dreamy landscape, the imagery, the pain of loss against the backdrop of what one still has–asked me to listen to it twice with my morning cup of coffee. The story warmed me. It is a prize-worthy story. And now I’m going to go listen to it again.

*  *  *

Short Story : 8/365
“Two Sisters” by Helen Rubinstein at The Collagist

I couldn’t resist the title. Read it twice, because it heads down one street, and then takes you on another, and another, but not really, in the end. After all, it’s sisters.

“Two sisters, walking down the street, crying, run into two sisters, walking down the street, laughing. The first two have just had a giant fight. Neither has anything more to say on the subject.”

*   *   *

Short Story: 7/365
“The Red Bow” by George Saunders at Esquire

This one has been around awhile, but when I finished reading the interview with Saunders by Joel Lovell in the New York Times Magazine, I wanted to hang with the man a little longer, so I found this. If you haven’t already read a story or a dozen by the guy, get going on that.

*   *   *

Short Story : 6/365
“Last Dog” by Claire Burgess at Hunger Mountain.

Settle in for a longer one: images that stick, a character you can count on. Laugh. Cry. This story takes one delightfully aberrant turn after another, asking the reader to define normal in new ways. Worth every minute spent reading. Check out the quote below and you’ll want to read the story.

“The most formative events in your life will not be your wedding, your first child, your promotion—they will be the things that rear up and punch you in the face, the things you don’t see coming that knock you down and you can’t get up for a long time and when you do eventually get up—which you will always do, you’ll always get up and get up and get up—all you can do is just wait for the next thing, knowing it’s out there, knowing you’re always traveling towards it, knowing it’s crouching somewhere, waiting, and there’s nothing you can do but walk right up to it.” Claire Burgess

*   *   *

Short Story: 5/365
“Cartwheel” by Kim Chinquee at Green Mountains Review

This short short spills gritty memories: a best friend, a time of life, images that read rhythmically.

“Her mom sang us ice cream songs, like you scream, we scream, I scream, and she had a smile that left her face the day she lost her toddler: a girl I watched my friend talk into drinking vodka, inhaling half a smoke.”
Kim Chinquee

*   *   *

Short Story: 4/365
“Dogfight” by Rich Farrell at Numero Cinq

Complication. Character. Compassion. These drive the narrative while descriptions of place make me want get on a plane. Another winner by fellow VCFA alum, Rich Farrell. Good one, Rich!

*   *   *

3/365
“DYSPNEA” by Brad Green at Barrelhouse

This short will grab you by the throat. Brevity does not leave the reader wanting. Strong on scene and heartbreak. And the prose…
“His father Royce had been gone since biscuit time, but a wall of haze feathered the eastern ridge now and Willow knew Royce had finished torching the fallow.” Brad Green

*   *   *

2/365
“Our Education” by Lincoln Michel
Publisher: Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading

A fabulistic coming-of-age tale in the spirit of ‘Lord of the Flies’ heads under the bleachers with ‘Swamplandia.’ Find out what happens in a timeless plot set in a high school where all of the teachers have gone missing.

*   *   *

1/365
“Younger” by Ben Tanzer at Spartan
Loved how Ben set the scene, introduced a concept through a couple in conversation. The narrator then zooms out, notices something, feels something, yes, really feels it, and the sensory overrides the concept or any conversation anyone could ever have on the topic introduced!

One thought on “365 Stories

  1. Pingback: 365 Short Stories: Catching Up! | Rigmarole

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s