I’ve so enjoyed being back here, participating as an editor for the “Editor’s Eye” feature! What a unique destination Fictionaut is. There are new gems here every day, fresh-pressed and ready to be loved.
I read to feel. I am not an academic reader (or writer). Typically, I am not interested in the groovy-ness/cleverness of an imposed structure, unless it’s internal, unless it is authentic.
When I read, I want to be moved, the same way I do when I listen to music.
I let words dance in my brain and trick my senses. Sensory involvement and emotional engagement go hand-in-hand in short prose pieces. What grabs me is often more about what is NOT said than what is.
When selecting these five stories, I tried to give myself very few restrictions. I let the work decide, not the comments or stars. Some of the pieces I chose were somewhat overlooked, others were well-favorited.
Reading for the “Editor’s Eye” feature reminded me of how much I admire what Fictionaut offers readers and writers to share on a daily basis.
I’m grateful to Jurgen Fauth and Michelle Elvy for asking me to participate in this feature.
Here are my choices:
Poetry and prose blend here in this flash by Christian Bell. What Bell creates is a visceral, claustrophobic moment when what we love feels threatened. He brings us into the eye of a personal hurricane. There is little comfort to be found in his beautiful ending. We just want it all to be okay.
Basden is asking the reader to sit and observe quietly as he sets the past before us. This piece tackles bigotry, wearing old and new small-town binoculars:
“One of our distinguished old-timers, reminiscing a while ago, said, “We let them pickaninnies fend for themselves.“
Basden incorporates much poetry in his use of language. The following sentence, like so many in this piece, is masterful:
I sip the Dairy Queen’s sweet iced tea and, from a shaded bench, watch the grackles prance.
No need to say more. Please read.
Reminiscent, to me, of Raymond Carver’s poetry!
You haven’t lived until she dances just for you,
under the kitchen lights
Details wrap me inside this moment, AND do not want to be unwound:
naked except for the gray cotton shirt
and we are there, we are in love with what the poet loves.
She laughs, arms waving above her head.
This story by Jake Barnes is mysterious in the best way. It takes me through a cloud of… smoke. I can see what is happening and yet — I can’t completely work it through until the end. It jiggles like the ample-sized bellydancer. I can see that the speaker must quit smoking and yet the world is an oozing place, he notices too much, he needs the crutch of the cigarette (cigarettes are known to be love replacements). There are vague hints sewn in about the difficulty with temptation in more than one form. It is a very human story, sly and smartly written.
The tip-off (for me): “A little lower, actually…”
This man is lusting after something he is not supposed to have, and it is going to win. This is all too true, in life, this daily struggle of “not supposed to…”
Thank you, Mr. Barnes.
Ron Burch’s story “Some Nights” is an addictively dark read. It kidnaps the reader with one man’s experience of modern isolation. I am right there with Burch’s narrator, feeling locked inside a bruised and hopeless night…. alone and looking for love, inside a big house, in Los Angeles.
You worry what it can do to you this night.
The night is a bully. And yet, the night itself hurts…
This night, which seems especially wounded.
This excerpted line takes us into the lonely city of online loneliness farms i.e. dating sites:”…and you send suggestively sexual lines to each other while exploring a roomful of each other’s personal history the size of a mansion, and you desperately want it to keep going on and on…”
Loneliness kills. Scientists know this. The solution? Dating sites! Burch shows us just how empty online looking-for-love sites can feel: a bigger, virtual house with lonely people invisibly calling out to one another, using sex as glue, bringing us microscopically, unflinchingly close to a very modern kind of desperation.
Editor’s Eye is curated by Michelle Elvy (Fictionaut profile here). She writes and edits every day at michelleelvy.com, and readers can also find her editing Blue Five Notebook (with Sam Rasnake) and Flash Frontier.