Friday, March 26, 2010

"What I'd Say to Ms. Adams," by David Erlewine

We often saw each other walking our dogs around the building where we both live. We’d offer nothing more than smiles and polite nods. But finally I introduced myself and my dogs. He opened his mouth wide and winced his eyes as if to squeeze out something more than incomprehensible gargle. After some seconds, I realized he was a stutterer. I stood patiently thinking since this was my first experience that it was probably more awkward for me than him. I recalled this moment after reading this story. The narrator reflects on a teacher in high school offering a moment of grace when he needed to back out of giving an oral report. In a fascinating note that follows the story, the writer mentions he is working on a series of “stutter” stories. Read it here in Foundling Review.
By the way, the gentleman’s name is Bob and so is his dog.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

“Forewarned,” by Benjamin Matvey

It’s an odd love story. She won’t move in for fear of killing his cat, Earl Grey known as Teabag when a kitten. He believes her rejection is based on some biological defect of his. She reminds him of Teabag, “Huge eyes and ears like a marmalade cat with its ears back.” What plays out is the danger of the reptilian brain strong enough to overpower judgment and logic. The story is scarier than sci-fi and more thought provoking. Read it here in Stickman Review.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Not My City, Not My People," by Eric Maroney

Objectivity in this story, directed at the Arab-Israeli conflict, recalls the feeling of Brechtian theatre. The protagonist is a chair with “an emblazoned sun … either rising or setting.” The story cleverly combines elements of a narrative arc (what will happen to the chair?) and incorporates non-fictional elements of the Middle East conflict from 1948-1967. Constancy is given a new perspective with the survival of the chair across time and place. There are characters in the story, some facing the absurdity of life, but none rise to the level of meaning as the chair. And by story’s end the reader wonders where now is that chair. Try this story for expanding your insight about this ongoing religious-political war. Read it here in Segue.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Caiman," by Bret Anthony Johnston

Lies, secrets, and prayers uttered by parents often come from an urge to protect their young from the looming violence of the world. We understand. Daily, we are exposed to the underbelly of our culture through broadcast news and the Internet. Strong dialogue carries the surface tension and intimacy between these parents. Preparing dinner, their bond is palpable as revealed in the following statement: “The meal was starting to feel like a celebration, like one of us had gotten a raise or was having a birthday.” The father’s surprise for the son, a small alligator, a caiman, is perhaps an invitation to violence in an attempt to come to terms with the world through love and prayer. The language is full of wonderful detail and depth of emotion. Read it here in Agni Online.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Soft Landings," by Jay Baruch

There’s something common and almost flat in this story- baseball, dreams, mowing lawns, dying parents, Alzheimer disease- but written with the pen of a master this story is woven with depth and feeling. Cape is in his mid-twenties with a liberal arts degree under his belt. And he has a passion for playing baseball. He won’t let go of the dream: “Without this particular slant of light, I’m like everybody else groping through the draft.” The story title is just right and the surprise element around that title offers a very satisfying read, here in Eclectica.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Salt Air," by James Scott

Something about the Maine coast yields to feelings of loss that for me the warmer coasts, say the Gulf, do not. Is it the colder water, the salt, the wind, the gritty sand? There is fitting correlation in this story of images that capture place and emotion. In particular, we are given a story of incompleteness and betrayal felt by a half-brother and half-sister. Here’s one image that I like describing the contents of an empty closet: ‘empty hangars sang like wind chimes’. Read it here in Memorious.