When it comes to giving other people compliments I’m kind of a dick. It’s not that I don’t want to say nice things, because I do, I really do. If I had my druthers I would walk around all day pointing out what’s best about each person I see, because I am a people person. My problem, however, is that the voice that comes out of me when I decide to say something nice is not a voice I recognize, and it’s not a voice I’m very comfortable with. The voice, to me at least, sounds exactly like the voice of a ring announcer. Michael Buffer. That’s who it is. My brain tells me it’s time to say something nice and gives my mouth the command and my mouth opens and out comes a voice that makes it sound as if the fight is about to start. I don’t know why this is, or what to do about it. All I know is that there is nothing I can do about it, so I usually just keep my mouth shut when it comes to niceties, which, I’m sure, makes people think I’m a dick. So when Michelle Elvy got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to host the Editor’s Eye I said, Yes, of course, because I want to be a good citizen of Fictionaut and give praise to some of the great work I see on a daily basis. But then I thought about it, and I said – I said this to myself – I said, What am I going to do about that voice? I was worried that I was going to sound like a fake, or worse, that my compliments would seem canned. Not only is my compliment voice obnoxious, but I lack the critical vocabulary that’s necessary to really tease out what’s good or great about a piece of fiction. I either like something or I don’t, and sometimes I really have no idea why. That being said, I think I should finally get around to giving my picks. Let me just say upfront that I loved each and every one of these stories. I am always happy to see work by Eamon Byrne, because of his intelligence and slightly inscrutable air; I get giddy when I read Crabby McGrouchpants because he reminds me of a Richard Brautigan, if Richard Brautigan was a former gutter-punk. Tabatha Stirling gives me a curdled, creamy sensation in my nethers and makes me feel like I’m following a trail of breadcrumbs to a most beautiful and sublime death. G.E. Simons wields words like a wizard. Shiela Luecht seems to understand something about all of us we would rather not admit. Good work, everyone. Now, let’s get ready to rumble.
Chris Okum lives in Los Angeles, California.