In “Streams of Unconsciousness” by Sharanya Manivannan, the author gives us two characters in a life long relationship, who are endowed with such precise attributes, that we imagine we know them. What struck me is how she manages to do this in such a short piece. “He was a watch collector, a failed auteur, a misogynist. She was the kind of woman who would crack a rib if someone looked at her too sweetly, and cry for six months if he didn’t, a masochist. They fit together, but with some effort, like Tetris blocks” It is this precision that allows her the luxury of a short story. For all its preciseness and short length, the story describes the complexity of a relationship at its core. Love/Hate relationships, relationships carried on over a span of years and oceans, relationships that we carry with us like an appendage we just cant bear to amputate. The characters exist in an alternate reality all their own, doing the dance of “I want you, now go away”. It is this tension that makes the story bristle with life although the outcome seems hopeless for this pair. I think Ms. Manivannan is a master at short story telling, because she knows how much to tell, how much to leave out and when to stop.
This collection of poems by Mr. Price plays like a record album of different songs. I’ve been aware of his writing for quite some time, seeing it grow and push boundaries and he is really developed his voice. I personally find his writing vibrant and never stale. Sentimental without getting pretentious. I’m excited to recommend his work to other Fictionaut readers and hope you agree Price is one of the premier poets here.
A great piece of writing is one I carry in my head – voice, setting, tone, imagery – long after reading it. It’s a piece I directly connect with in such strong fashion that my everyday life is impacted. On a cold, snowy day on a drive by an empty field, Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man” begins to tug at me. That’s great writing. “Foreign Film” by Kathy Fish is such a work. Using only 337 words in a compressed and Carver-like style, complete with sharp dialogue, Fish creates a multilayered piece that is staggering in its directness.
When I first read Fish’s story, I couldn’t get the scene – this one powerful moment in the lives of no names – out of my head. It’s there still. In the structure of the piece, there’s a real-life couple fictionalized, arguing the night while watching a foreign film on television – a film whose characters are fictionalized but made real in the story. Life resembles art resembles life. The two worlds meet, as it were, and it’s Fish’s writing ability that makes this work. The final paragraph – a story in itself – is haunting. Two physical acts, though separated by time, language, and levels of reality, move as though locked in parallel motion. Great writing indeed. This story is a gift.
Fictionaut Faves, a series in which Fictionaut members recommend stories on the site, is edited by Marcelle Heath, a fiction writer, freelance editor, and assistant editor for Luna Park. She lives in Portland, Oregon.