To kick off the New Year, Fictionaut begins a new series, Fictionaut Faves, where Fictionaut members discuss one story they have faved. We thought it would be great way to revisit some wonderful writing that has appeared in the community by offering personal and critical analysis by other writers. Some of the stories may be familiar, others new discoveries, but all share the admiration of their peers. Enjoy! —Marcelle Heath
I always yammer on about how Katrina Denza‘s “Soap,” published in Wigleaf in 2008, is a model of how very short fiction revives contemporary, realistic story-telling. It turns out we’re not as tired of domestic travails as we had thought; we’re just tired of the way those stories are told. (You know what I’m talking about. White people and their cancer/adultery/dying mom stories.) But “Soap” describes a suspended moment, quite literally, and as it does so it opens up a truth about realism and drama-like Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow.”
That said, my response to “Soap” is actually very personal. I don’t write anything like it, although finding it was crucial to my present focus. “Soap” moved me at 45 the way “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” moved me at 16, the way that “That Evening Sun” moved me at 20, the way that “That Pederson Kid” moved me at 25, etc. I suppose it’s a hormonal thing, but when I read and re-read “Soap,” I feel like I’m in the presence of something honest and important.
One of the first stories I faved on Fictionaut was “Someone Emailed Me Last Night and Asked if I Would Write About Nachos” by Sean Lovelace. I wasn’t, at the time, aware of Lovelace’s work–or of his obsession with bar food. I was glad to get this introduction to Lovelace, and this particular piece remains my favorite of the various writings I’ve read of his. In most of the work I’ve liked, Sean Lovelace tears up our English language to make something I find fun to read. By that, I mean he both reinvents language in creative new ways and tears down language as we generally think about it. In this short piece, a set of simple declarative sentences (well, mostly simple, mostly declarative, mostly sentences), Lovelace waxes poetic on “junk” food. Once he’s done, though, I’m thinking this can’t be junk food, not when Lovelace is writing about it. It’s art. I’m so glad that someone e-mailed Lovelace and asked him to write about nachos.
One of my favorite stories on Fictionaut is actually a flash fiction piece by Siolo Thompson called “Making Small Things,” which was published in Rumble magazine in 2008. It’s a flash, granted, quick to read, but each time I read it, it seems that time both contracts and expands as the narrative thread gleams forth with a frightening combination of childhood descriptions (innocent), dark sexuality (immediate), remembered loss (severe), and unending consequence (dire). Thompson uses language well, poetry well, density well–slipping into lovely and unexpected word combinations with her cadence, image, use of the surreal, and starkly subtextual events. One example of this would be this zinger found at the end of paragraph one, where the narrator discusses her attributes as a girl child and seamlessly reminds the reader of her adult presence: “I had brown hair and blue eyes and only three small freckles behind my left shoulder (you can see them still when you are fucking me from behind).” Rather than ruin the impact of this piece with further discussion, I’d rather simply recommend that interested readers here take a moment and read it. Thompson’s work is a black gem, sparkling in the gloaming. I read everything she posts.