I was asked to read at Fictionaut to select stories or poems that might be worthy of my subjective gaze. I selected stories and poems and I hope you will read them.

I also did something self-serving I wasn’t asked to do. As an added bonus I selected the stories posted during Fictionaut’s first days  (Click on “Most Recent” under “stories,” then click the very last page, currently page 284). Nearly four years ago, Jurgen Fauth put up the genesis post, “Orchard,” a chilling Monsanto sci-fi dystopian flash:

People didn’t seem to mind, and bought cherries like they did in the old days.

Fictionaut was wide open and a hella lotta people have posted in the interim. It seems the stories–and I’m going to just call them stories from here on out because I’ll tire of typing stories and poems–but writers seem to be posting for various reasons.

So I didn’t look at every story in the same way, but I probably clicked on them all. There is work that is fresh and the writer has asked for feedback. Then there are stories that were already published. I didn’t select anything from the Fictionaut Recommends window because I was asked to try to outsmart this crowd-sourced aesthetic awards system. And so no offense super-fave stories, but I thought of you as the enemy. That said, many of the stories I selected had already accumulated little blue stars, and I was glad to know there were others who had also read and appreciated the stories below.

I’ll start with this from Brian Warfield’s “Resplendent“:

“Betty’s finger got married to the circular saw on a brilliant Saturday in June.

It wasn’t her ring finger, but whatever.”

J.A. Pak’s “The Gratitude of Bones” is not to be missed.

There is no greater crime ever perpetrated on Earth than that Con Chapman’s “Break Time in the Army Corps of Engineers Mascot Lounge,” only has one fave at the time of writing. My fave! Are you people idiots? Are you addicted to microwave popcorn or something? Do you wake up and shuffle out into the unholy mess day after day? All any of you really needs is this story. I’ve admired Con Chapman thingamajigs from afar for a while, but this one is best I’ve read. The lines hit. Funny and very smart.

Melanie Neale’s “Hurricane Shutters” is heartbreaking and gorgeous. This might just be my favorite out of everything I read.

I selected two Gary Hardaway poems, “Prairie Yields,” and “The Naming.” In the comments someone said, “You are becoming your very own school.”  I don’t know what that might mean, but I like the poems.

Chris Okum’s “Watching Home Movies With My Twin Brother” is wonderful.

Ann Bogle’s “The Cool Report” is enchanting, a backwards chronology of list-serve messages along with poems and personal journal entries. One has to submit to the thing as it rolls along consuming and elegant. Ann’s note asks for our response about the word “Niggas” that an editor suggested be removed. James Robison objected to censoring the writer, while no one else responded. I’ll be honest here, since I was asked, but I’d probably cut the passage for purely aesthetic reasons. If the debate in question was foregrounded I probably missed it, and that passage seemed so unlike the rest I wouldn’t feel anything was lost by cutting. Enjoy the read and feel free to disagree with me.

Marcie Beyatte’s “Double or Nothing”  is a perfectly executed coming of age flash.

Witness the death of one of J. Mykel Collins’s characters in “Life After Death.”

Maybe I fell for Mark Reep’s  ” How to Profit as Copper Becomes the New Gold,” because my hand is also bandaged.

Charles Huschle’s “Glue” might be all you ever need to know about couples therapy.

That first week on Fictionaut, Jurgen Fauth followed up “Orchard” with the near-death experience, “Gas Making You Sick,” and the New Orleans Jazz fantasy, “Dizzy.”

“I’m a regular at his Wednesday night gigs at the Bon Temps. Kermit swings hard.”

That same day Marcy Dermansky’s “Little Meadow Sims” got beat up again in school today.

And on the third day of Fictionaut is my own “Moe Tucker,” a young Clinton-era student of Shakespeare with a snare drum.

Heap many good faves like Mardis Gras beads, and thanks for listening.

John Minichillo’s novel, The Snow Whale was a Hey, Small Press! best of 2011, and they called it, “the funniest novel we reviewed all year.”  He lives in Nashville and you can find him here:  thesnowwhale.com and on Twitter @thesnowhaleEditor’s Eye is a new blog series that aims to highlight noteworthy work that might have slipped through the cracks of Fictionaut’s automated list of recommendations. Every two weeks, a distinguished visiting editor scours the site for lost treasures and picks outstanding stories.

  1. John Minichillo

    Thank you for selecting my story! I worked really hard on it!

  2. Matt Dennison

    “There is no greater crime ever perpetrated on Earth than that Con Chapman’s “Break Time in the Army Corps of Engineers Mascot Lounge,” only has one fave at the time of writing. My fave! Are you people idiots?”


    (check out his latest)

  3. Ann Bogle

    John, just catching up with your suggestion for “The Cool Report” now. It seems viable. I’ll try it that way — leaving out the passage in question — and see how it floats. I could also leave it in and consider explaining it in context — how Carlo Parcelli’s essay ends up paraphrased here, its accidental discovery as part of the story — while being mindful of Marc Vincenz’s idea that I should not give away too much. Thanks for your idea and for including “The Cool Report” in your line-up.

  4. Katie Norton

    Thanks for this column John. I love Con Chapman too. Fictionaut is a source of pure joy for me.

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