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Mostly short stories from a few magazines: especially *Electric Lit* and *Fabula Argentea*. Some stories I particularly enjoyed:
- Peter Kispert’s “In the palm of his hand” is an urbane story of ambition, vanity, self-centredness, and moral emptiness. Only when the narrator falls does he experience any urge to connect with another person.
- Margaret Meehan’s “A beautiful wife is suddenly dead” is a story of suburban boredom, repressed libido, and the willingness of consumer culture and true-crime shows to fill our voids.
- Ross Feeler’s “Parisian Honeymoon” examines the most potent threat that terrorism poses to civilisation: a willingness to play into the game of “them” vs. “us.” The plotting is contrived; but the ending is sharp, subtle irony. As we sleep, our own hatred creeps back and hovers. Watching.
- Alice Adams’s “Love is a yellow hotel in Yugoslavia” traverses young love, two marriages, and the conflicts of a mother and a teenage daughter in pleasingly meandering fashion.
- Mario Pilla’s “Gramercy” is, at one level, a gentle sendup of an excess stringency about rules of punctuation; at a deeper, a reminder that though the way we say things changes, the things that matter don’t.
- Paul Hardy’s “Whoso pulleth out this sword” is the risk, comic monologue of a kingmaker sword brought down to earth.
- Matt McHugh’s “Well-regulated” asks what’s more important: the right to carry concealed weapons, or the right to information? The characters are flat — stodgy politicians vs. woke tech CEOs; but this speculative piece is a timely commentary on the chasms that open up in civic life when governments lose touch with citizens’ priorities.
- W. T. Paterson’s “Song of Tinnitus” references *The Matrix*, *Woman in White*, *The Machinist*, and *Inception* to good effect for an out-of-left-field horror story.
- On *100-Word Stories* magazine, I particularly enjoyed: Kim Addonizio’s “Mysteries of sex” (even masturbation is emotionally complicated) and “Plans” (who needs to meet friends, when we can get what we need right here at home?); Adam Schuitema’s “Palm funeral” (with climate change, the earth is wizening long before it will die); and Heather Bourbeau’s “The quiet sadism of the powerless” (overwhelmed by tragedy, the narrator is frustrated at the lack of something too small to kill).
- In Chestnut Review’s Summer 2019 Issue, I enjoyed the sole short story, Laura Gill’s “Mary and Martha” — a series of vignettes analysing the role that religion, persistent patriarchy, sisterly rivalry, and admiration play in relationships between women. It isn’t enough for women to give, and give, and give — they must also abandon their work, fawn, and trust to faith when god/man shows up.
If you read any of these stories, I’d love to know what you think!
Read anything interesting this week? I’d love to get recommendations for short stories / literary magazines.