My experiences with Fictionaut have always been framed by my writing — submitting stories, treasuring the responses, enjoying the Recommended pieces. It’s less fraught as a reader; my ego is off-duty. There’s so much going on here, with nothing but the wide-ranging inclusiveness to bind it all together, and I love that! An excuse to put all my nagging concerns aside and read every single piece posted to Fictionaut over two weeks: what a rare treat.

Stories that appeal to me polish a spot in the frost to let me peer through the window. Or they make me laugh. Or they show me something new or true. I would much rather read than explain what I like; it feels like a failure of the imagination to say what I like, because something new will soon come along and show me just how wrong I was.

I made one little new rule for myself here: I only selected stories from writers whose work I have never before read. So I am now a fan of seven new writers…

“The Graduate” by Jim Breslin

I love the vividness of both paths here of the boy; I feel intimately connected to this story. My son turns 18 as I write this, so that couldn’t be it…

“A Totally Inaccurate Reduction of the Second Generation Immigrant Experience in America During the 20th Century” by Chris Okum

In this portrait of a faceless man, Okum cleverly reveals a face. The piling on of cliché is done to tremendously witty and thoughtful effect. Halfway through it arrested me and grabbed my attention: You’ve read all this before. Look at it.

“Pen and paper” by JP Kemmick

The first three sentences! Oh, how I love these sentences.

“Four Bars” by Neil McCarthy

I love that these are four bars, not four imaginings of bars. This nails it.

“Tarzan” by Dallas Woodburn

I don’t know everything that’s going on here, but I am so very grateful that Woodburn lets me mull it over. The agony of the family for the boy breaks my heart.

“The Roach in My Bathroom” by Charlotte Hamrick

The opening image pulls me in immediately, and I admire how this comes full circle.

“The Broken Ones” by Misti Rainwater-Lites

Raw and biting and clawing to the surface for air: the narrator here is soaked in bile and it made my toes squirm.


John Wentworth Chapin lives and writes in Baltimore, Maryland. He is at work on yet another final draft of the same novel. John is a founding editor of 52|250 The Year of Flash and A Baker’s Dozen: thirteen extraordinary things.

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

    Thanks for including my story in your picks, John. I’m grateful to have a new reader and to be included with these talented writers.

  2. Gary Hardaway

    Excellent choices.

  3. Robert Vaughan

    Great choices, John. I will always be so grateful for the time we worked together on so many of my pieces that year of 52/250. You helped shape me as a writer and I will never forget that experience. Not to mention meeting (and reading with) you at KGB Bar in NYC!

  4. Michelle Elvy

    Excellent selections and intro, John. Thank you for taking part! I know your sharp editorial eye — always a pleasure to see what and HOW you are reading.

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