M

Month: September 2011

Six Fictions

by Scott Garson

HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

He froze when the cockroach jumped from the crease of his wallet. Smoothly she put the insect to death, using a slip of deposit.

HOMECOMING QUEEN

Eveyone’s voting for Missy. I get it. Be honest, though. Whether or not it’s me, wouldn’t you like to have someone who didn’t tragically die?

VISITATION

He came to their classroom. The twins sat in back. Their teacher was going to just give them to him, Kate realized. Jen whispered, Shh.

RAY ANNE

She gave herself a different name and didn’t tell anyone. She liked when her mother screamed, “Katherine!” She liked that her mother was wrong.

STOPLIGHT

Oh shades and cell-phone girl in the mirror. Please kiss me. Please cover my rent.

HOURLY

They gave me a job at Halloween Town. Strip mall with vacancies. Sad. I was a wizard, vaguely swinging my wand. “Everything change,” I commanded.


Scott Garson is the author of American Gymnopédies. He edits Wigleaf. “Visitation” appeared in different form in a 2009 posting of Everyday Genius.

How do you approach differently the creation of individual compressed fictions when they are part of a series, such as “Six Fictions”? And what are some ways to make pieces feel inter-connected when creating such a series?

Probably you carry more of an awareness of form when writing pieces for a set. Even if the form you’re working within isn’t a known or established one, you try to stay conscious of what the form feels like to you. That’s to say, in addition to the needs of each piece on its own, there’s a need for likeness between them.

Interconnections: tough subject! I feel like to generalize here, even modestly, would be to stretch the truth. In the case of this set, the “Six Fictions,” I put them together pretty quickly, within a two-day period. Two were scavenged from earlier material (“Stoplight” had been a haiku, first written while doing a reverse commute from DC to Rockville, Maryland). I did four of them during my office hour, and one at the sink while rinsing some plates, and one on a place mat at a restaurant with my kids asking what I was doing, and the last—a replacement for one that didn’t work—late the following night. I liked the number six. Six seemed like a good call for these things. When it came time to order them, I was hoping that their having arisen at the same time would mean that there’d be interesting links and counterpoints, and there were; I sensed that. But I didn’t think about it too much (Ever since I realized that the iTunes randomizer could often school me in the mix-making department, I’ve tried to be more brainless in doing my segues).

DAEDAL DOODLE, G

by Victor Stabin

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing all 26 letters of Victor Stabin’s Daedal Doodle series, one each Wednesday for 26 weeks. Be sure to click on the picture for the FULL VIEW! Victor Stabin’s alphabet book is available here.]

For almost three years, wherever he went, Victor Stabin brought a dictionary along. Combing through over 8,000 pages of a variety of dictionaries, he came up with the alliterations that inhabit this work. Inspired by reading “ABC” books to his three-year-old daughter Skyler, his love of words, and his incessant inability to to stop doodling, he unflinchingly created the improbable alliterative combinations and illustrations that inhabit this work. In his heart he knew he was creating a work that, while using unusually obtuse words, would have broad appeal and challenge the “ABC” status quo. The goal—to create platforms that bridge literate curiosity across multiple generations using mostly common (and sometimes extraordinarily uncommon) imagery in new and inventive ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, presented for your literate and retinal delight… (more…)

Three Memos

by Michael Martone

On Administrative Leave, the Postal Inspector Waits in Line at the
Sunrise, Maine, Post Office to Ask If He Has Any Mail Held General Delivery

Even here, the end of the earth, wanted posters are posted. Have you tracked me down? What word’s been sent? What, what do you want?

A Camoufleur at the Natick Soldier Systems Center Digests
Reports Finding Failure of the UCP Digitalized Pixilated Pattern in Afghanistan

Mychildrenlookrightthroughme,throughthescreendoorwhereIstandstill,foregroundflattenedintobackground,twenty-fivewords hiddeninthisoneword.

 

A Chemist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Dips a Finger in a Freshly Opened Paint Can

To get that loud color, that safety yellow? Lead chromate. It’s the only way. Its aftertaste is sweet like sponge cake. It stains the teeth.


Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has taught at several universities including Johns Hopkins, Iowa State, Harvard, Alabama, and Syracuse. He participated in the last major memo war fought with actual paper memoranda before the advent of electronic email. Staples were deployed. The paper generated in that war stacks several inches deep, thick enough to stop a bullet. Martone learned that the “cc:” is the most strategic field of the memo’s template, and he is sad to realize that fewer and fewer readers know what the “cc:” stands for let alone have ever held a piece of the delicate and duplicating artifact in their ink stained and smudge smudged fingers. It, like everything else, is history.

Tell us more, if you could, about your series about federal employees that these wonderful pieces are a part of.

I started writing these pieces in response to the current political anger directed toward the “public” sector and “faceless” bureaucrats. As the rhetoric of cutting the federal government became more pronounced, I wanted to meditate on all the things it actual does, benign or not, efficient or not. I will miss the post office, Amtrak, even the page program in Congress. I thought micro fictions were the perfect way to get at the “vast” complexities of that “Washington.”

Abundance, image 21

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
(more…)

A Remarkable Ability

by Jennifer Pieroni

To her, the interior of a person’s car was a reflection; it helped her imagine the home, the peculiar history, if it was ordered. She knew all of this was true and yet her own car was littered with family mittens, squeezed tissues, sand and flattened leaves beneath her feet.

Her husband hurried across the parking lot to the pharmacy, leaving the car running. Sitting in the rear, she lifted the crying baby out of its car seat and propped it in her lap, even though it continued to pitch in every direction. She could hear the crying even alone, even when the baby was still. She now understood the mother’s mind, and it no longer seemed a remarkable ability.

She cradled the baby against her and lifted her shirt. She knew he’d forgotten to lock the doors, another habit she could not break him of, and would not try to because there seemed to be more important things to say. She rubbed the baby’s forehead, watching its pulse in the soft spot, a focus she could not avoid now that she had noticed it.

The parking lot was mostly empty, with the exception of a few cars. But still, she did not feel safe. In the dark, everything seemed black and white, the contrasts in every day life evident even in the lines that delineated the slots for parking.

A figure shifted in a sedan on the other side of the median. A cigarette in the figure’s hand glowed intermittently. She wished she still smoked. She knew the figure might be watching. The figure might see the white flash of her breast. The figure might approach her car, and enter on the driver’s side, and notice their personal effects. The figure, already knowing everything about her, might.


Jennifer Pieroni studied writing at Emerson College and her writing has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Another Chicago Magazine, Hobart, Guernica, Mississippi Review and others. It has also been anthologized in Best of the Web 2010, Brevity and Echo and Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Stories. She served as founding editor of the print journal Quick Fiction for nearly a decade and contributed to the Rose Metal Press Flash Fiction Field Guide.

What “remarkable ability” do you think writers of compressed fiction possess?

Maybe not what they all possess, but what they should all possess is a mastery of language. Not just a strong vocabulary, but also the instincts necessary to discern which words are right and in what combinations. That’s mastery, to me. And without it, I don’t see how a writer can ever deliver truly remarkable compressed fiction.

DAEDAL DOODLE, F

by Victor Stabin

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing all 26 letters of Victor Stabin’s Daedal Doodle series, one each Wednesday for 26 weeks. Be sure to click on the picture for the FULL VIEW! Victor Stabin’s alphabet book is available here.]

For almost three years, wherever he went, Victor Stabin brought a dictionary along. Combing through over 8,000 pages of a variety of dictionaries, he came up with the alliterations that inhabit this work. Inspired by reading “ABC” books to his three-year-old daughter Skyler, his love of words, and his incessant inability to to stop doodling, he unflinchingly created the improbable alliterative combinations and illustrations that inhabit this work. In his heart he knew he was creating a work that, while using unusually obtuse words, would have broad appeal and challenge the “ABC” status quo. The goal—to create platforms that bridge literate curiosity across multiple generations using mostly common (and sometimes extraordinarily uncommon) imagery in new and inventive ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, presented for your literate and retinal delight… (more…)

Misplaced Rug

by Hal Sirowitz

I knocked on the door
of our old house in Long Beach, (more…)

Abundance, image 20

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
(more…)

Creative Nonfiction: Jimmy Cee and the First Hickey

by Minter Krotzer

In eighth grade we had make-out parties. There was music and dancing while the parents watched TV upstairs. Whoever was dating at the time would go in the corners and make out to a song—something by Barry Manilow, Elton John, or Captain & Tennille. (more…)

DAEDAL DOODLE, E

by Victor Stabin

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing all 26 letters of Victor Stabin’s Daedal Doodle series, one each Wednesday for 26 weeks. Be sure to click on the picture for the FULL VIEW! Victor Stabin’s alphabet book is available here.]

For almost three years, wherever he went, Victor Stabin brought a dictionary along. Combing through over 8,000 pages of a variety of dictionaries, he came up with the alliterations that inhabit this work. Inspired by reading “ABC” books to his three-year-old daughter Skyler, his love of words, and his incessant inability to to stop doodling, he unflinchingly created the improbable alliterative combinations and illustrations that inhabit this work. In his heart he knew he was creating a work that, while using unusually obtuse words, would have broad appeal and challenge the “ABC” status quo. The goal—to create platforms that bridge literate curiosity across multiple generations using mostly common (and sometimes extraordinarily uncommon) imagery in new and inventive ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, presented for your literate and retinal delight… (more…)

News

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes December 15, 2108; submit here.

Upcoming

09/17 • Nance Van Winckel
09/24 • Wendy Barker