It was exciting and intense to go back to reading just about every piece offered here in the past couple of weeks. It once was part of my daily ritual and for years, I started off every dawn making rounds: email, newsfeed, Facebook, Fictionaut. And I was writing as well as reading, putting together well over a thousand flash fictions in both traditional and hypertext style in the past five years.

I overdosed. Flying too high on literature for too long. Fell back hard to the reality of work, meals, redecorating, gardening, and the keeping up with friends. It’s been a real treat to have done this stint for the Editor’s Eye because it made me spend time with something I love.

New people and old friends here at Fictionaut. Hard to narrow it down to just a few and yet there were certain works that just got me, just reached out and pulled me into a different world. After all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

My Selections for “go-back-and-reads”:

1.  Kevaughn Hunter’s “Laughing, Crying”

The opening paragraph says a lot. It hits the reader with the prejudice of fifty years ago and if we cringe at the words, that’s a good thing. Time seems to be the theme, from the changes (and some changes that for some people, didn’t take) in society to the changes of the generation between the protagonist and his father. You can change your name, you can change the words, but as the last line says, “Yes, so it goes.”  There’s much more to this story than what it seems, and that’s what I particularly like about it.

2.  Marc Lowe’s “(Yet) Another Mask”

The mask comes to each of us at different points in our lives. The nice guy who’s tired of getting stepped on. The bad dude that finds Jesus. The worker passed by over and over for promotions. The prostitute who realizes she never had a baby. And for a while, we make ourselves over, more than bleaching our hair blonde but sometimes that’s all it takes. A visual that we think will be sink into the skin, into the soul, change who we’re just not happy with. What we should have been–whether it’s our own disappointment in ourselves or what we think we see when others look at us. It’s life and sometimes, we don’t fit inside the change. I loved that this read almost like a fable, the style of mixing a fascinating story with a moral that hits close to home.

3.  Con Chapman’s “Probably For The Best”

Con is one of the most prolific writers at Fictionaut and I was glad to see him still producing at the same pace (though it did make me feel guilty!). This story appealed to me because I do like realism as well as the oddly creative magical realism and such. Human nature is one of the most interesting subjects, to me, and all you need is a character or two and a situation to see how many different ways it can go. Con is a master at getting it down clearly, as if he were witnessing the story unfold and retelling it to a friend later on. He has the conflict of someone’s relationship as the impetus that drives the narrator’s spiral of reactions. It’s interesting to watch it all happen.

4.  James Knight’s “The Bird King’s Employees”

Amazingly metaphorical with language that surprises and delights. Some of the references are true dark humor and yet fanciful and spot on.  I felt I was reading something from Voltaire, his odd characters and the story world being looked upon from the outside with a sardonic eye. Not an easy thing to do and James has done it well.  Most enjoyable read–and I’m not usually a liker of the structure used here, but that’s a personal preference and the form simply won me over.

5.  Mathew Paust’s “First Shot 56”

This story is part of a series but not having read most of the other sections I was still taken in by the easy way I was brought into the story. Focusing on this current event, the characters interact in such a revealing manner that that is what tells the story and that’s what Mathew does so well. He takes the scene, the conflict, and lets his characters reflect it to establish the environment and their own humanness. It’s easy reading because it’s real, with well-chosen dialogue and just the right amount of information distributed throughout to give us a clear image of the people we’re watching.


Susan Gibb, recipient of the 8th and the 14th Glass Woman Prize, two Pushcart nominations and on the storySouth Million Writers Award long list of notable short stories 2010, writes one blog on literature analysis and another on hypermedia writing and reading. She is listed in the Electronic Literature Directory, the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, and her hypertext has been included in college syllabi and translated into other languages. Her fiction, poetry, and digital art have been published in many fine publications. 


  1. gary hardaway

    Enjoyed the selections and your very smart presentation.

  2. Matt Paust

    Surprised, thrilled and grateful, Susan. Many thanks for the kind words.

  3. susan gibb

    Well deserved, Matt. I really enjoyed reading your story and look forward to following along.

  4. Robert Vaughan

    Great selections, and write-ups, Susan. Enjoyed reading or re-reading the pieces you so carefully selected. Thanks!

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