I confess; I don’t read well.

I think I’m a little dyslexic, and my literary background is thin. I studied film, work in video and only almost accidentally became a writer. So fiction must engage me quickly, and I need strong language.

I looked for pieces that had received little attention, but I inevitably included some familiar names. There. As a good Midwesterner, I’ve now both equivocated and apologized.

Let’s get on with the show.

Michael Gillan Maxwells Winter

Michael Gillan Maxell has given us gems such as “Short Fuse” (published in the December 2013 issue of “The Bitchin’ Kitsch”) and recently, “Winter.”

With joy and brutality, Maxwell remembers a childhood when kids came home from a day of sledding bloody and elated, sweating inside frozen clothes….

“Winter” is symmetrical on the page. Sometimes I rewrite paragraphs simply to make them balance in space … a short paragraph, three long ones, a short. I think there’s something to this.

Barry Basdens They Say You Finally Have to Forgive Everything

This is a great example of a writer trusting his readers, his insistence that readers write at least a little of the story themselves…

Where’s “still over there somewhere?” and who’s the “they” who talk about “over there somewhere?” Happily, I can create this myself and WANT to create it, and Basden has trusted me to do that. This is how flash fiction can be so satisfying.

The title also impressed; I’d paid little attention until the story’s end and only then realized how well it had worked. It kicked up the story’s tone without getting in its way.

I’m thinking of asking Barry to write titles for me.

James Lloyd Davis Momento Mori, Mon Amour

Stretching across gender as a writer, I suppose, is tricky and dangerous.

I’ve tried a couple of times and expect to be called out as a pretender for it on every occasion. Davis travels the same road and bravely imagines himself  “stunning in a black dress.”

“Momento” employs a list that I adore for its rhythm. “I would have slept with a famous actress, four heads of state, three poets, two designers, and a lovely young student named Renee.”

Davis also imagines a woman completely comfortable in her skin: “I would not be famous, but quite satisfied with the murky edges of celebrity.”

Christian Bells Floating Away

This piece, after many reads, still puzzles me.

I can’t get my arms around what in it works. It’s how I feel about work from Ann Bogle and Matt Rowan and Jake Barnes. It has a dream quality, a disconnect, without being pronounced a dream. A motif of the fluid runs through the piece and leaves the reader haunted.

“Soon, she will turn to liquid, that other person, the world floating away.”

This kind of abstraction has influenced me in things I’ve tried lately.

Lucinda Kempes Great Big Beautiful Girls

OK, I’m a guy… a man. Can I even start to talk about this? Am I allowed? No, of course not, but I’ll try anyway because this piece cracked me up.

I wrote in my comment, “I dig the tone, love the voice, love the flow; and it’s funny. And a HAPPY ending! What’s NOT to love?” And that holds.

Check out the voice and rhythm here, “I am so fine. Bolded, italicized letters followed by ten exclamation points fine. Yes!  Me, and my Double D, smoother front, no underwire self!  Whoo-whee, hot is happening here. Slip me off the rack and onto your girls and change your world.”

See Lucinda Kempe’s latest posted work too, “Something About Your Mother.”


Steven Gowin grew up in darkest Iowania but escaped after an MFA from his state’s hotbed of workshop writing and creative remorse. These days, he’s a corporate video producer in San Francisco and has returned to fiction after a long hiatus away from it. He loves California, all of it, even the desert, and sometimes feels better now. Gowin has a story upcoming in the premiere issue of  The Mojave River Review and will be featured reading on an upcoming “Awkword Paper Cut” podcast.

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.


  1. David James

    Good choices, Steven. These selections give lie to your “I confess; I don’t read well.”

  2. Sam Rasnake

    Great choices, Steven. Yes.

  3. James Lloyd Davis

    It’s a sad day in literature when a guy has to put on a black dress to get noticed. Thanks, Steve.

  4. Michelle Elvy

    Really enjoyed these here at year’s end, Steve. Great to see your selections in this series. I cringed, guffawed, sighed and and thoroughly enjoyed.

    Happy new year, folks!

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Great choices all around, Steve. Happy New Year, all! Nice to read the selections and the descriptions, too.

  6. James Claffey

    Nice choices. See you in Mojave!

  7. Michael Gillan Maxwell

    Hey Steven! Sorry I’m so late to the table. Just now getting around to diving in. Imagine my surprise to find a piece of mine included! I had NO idea! Thank you so very much. I am also honored to be included with other writers who are some of my favorite Fictionaut authors and who have written so many pieces that I have admired and enjoyed! This caught me in one of those moods of existential doubt when I question if my writing is like pissing in the wind and it absolutely made my day. Thanks again. Much appreciated! Michael

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