Lately I’ve been absent from the world of Fictionaut, consumed by a return to the classroom and the many issues such a change implies. Still, there are favorites, writers I seek out here for their brilliance; Chris Okum, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Steve Gowin, and Sheldon Lee Compton. However, when Michelle Elvy asked me to contribute to the Editor’s Eye, I decided to go in search of strangers, as I feel estranged from the world of Fictionaut these days, and the old familiar faces are not so familiar after all. So here then are my diamonds in the rough:

1: Peter Kispert’s Tourniquet

This is a short, beautifully wrought piece of writing. I found myself drawn in by the strength of the writing, the way each word builds on the previous word. When I read, “I learned a tourniquet is a compression tool, a vice for flesh” I knew this was a writer I wanted to discover and share with people.

2: Paul de Denus’ The Confession

Powerful scene that takes me right into the action. I found the first line to be a killer: “He told me he once burned a church. I particularly liked how once the first line dissolves on the tongue like a communion wafer, the whole world of the narrator opens up and the whole thing is like watching a log burn in the grate on a cold night—satisfying, engaging, wonderful.

3: Steve Edwards’ An excerpt from The Heart Café

Longer than the usual Fictionaut offering, this one brings a world to my attention that I want to read more of, become immersed in, discover what the hell happens next. The writing is strong, the dialog sharp, the narrative flow nice and snappy, and the last line is a humdinger: “…she dissolved like a snowflake on a tongue.”

4: Glynis Eldridge’s black friday

Maybe it’s because I’m brooding on life, death, aging, and my own mother is growing old, but there’s a weigh, a poignancy, an absence though of sentimentality, in this work-in-progress. The writing is strong, the voice assured, the subject matter no laughing one, and the image of an old woman sipping tomato soup through a straw is enough to break one’s heart. A worthy read.

5: Sina Evans’ 11/30/13; or, what you won’t see in the picture

A poem, because I don’t do poetry at all well. I love the shape and form of this one. The images are fresh, the language simple, and there are avocado trees within! No, really, this is a gem, a real beauty of a poem. The way the weight falls on the final trio of images—“hive, landscape, bodies,” is quite wonderful.


James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He is the author of the book, Blood a Cold Blueand his website is at

Editor’s Eye is curated by Michelle Elvy (Fictionaut profile here). She writes and edits every day at, and readers can also find her editing Blue Five Notebook (with Sam Rasnake) and Flash Frontier.


  1. Charlotte Hamrick

    The links on #2 and #3 don’t work on my laptop or iPad. Maybe it’s just me but thought I’d let you know. I’ve enjoyed the other selections very much.

  2. Sam Rasnake

    Great choices, James. Enjoyed the discoveries here.

  3. Robert Vaughan

    Fine selections, James! But then I would not expect anything less from a writer with great taste! Congrats for another great Editor’s Eye, Michelle!

  4. Michelle Elvy

    Really enjoyed all these, James. Thank you for sharing these selections! And you even found one with avocados… nice!

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