I haven’t spent much time on Fictionaut this year. 2014 has more been a year of the novel for me. I’ve tried much harder to keep up with books from the indie lit scene, as well as the increasing number of books written by friends. Between managing Bartleby Snopes Lit Mag and Press and my own writing, something had to give. Unfortunately, that thing was Fictionaut.
When I was invited to do “Editor’s Eye,” I thought it would be a great way to catch up on what I’ve been missing. During my reading period, I also had a major life event. On November 29th, my second daughter was born. This might sound like an obstacle to keeping up with the latest on Fictionaut, but it really hasn’t been. What it has meant is that most of my reading has been done with my new baby girl in my arms. I think this means my selections here are from both of us, not just me. At times, I’ve used her mood as a cue. This has left me skimming through a fair number of stories and even abandoning some completely. Interestingly enough, she didn’t cry at all when I encountered prose that really struck a chord. These are the stories that have moved us the most.
At first glance, we might roll our eyes at yet another story about Ferguson. We might be even more apt to engage in such eye-rolling at a Ferguson story posted on Fictionaut. However, to do so would be to miss a truly insightful and moving piece. Goldberg skillfully uses the fierce combination of fact and satire to remind us about the utter humanity of these tragedies. Even if you’ve come to Fictionaut to get away from political ranting, this is still a must-read.
In “Your Novel Approach,” Peter Cherches proves himself a master of language. In this epistolary tale, Cherches explores the origin of recipes, novels, the creative process, and even thought itself. It’s a letter filled with humorous spins on language and twists on logic that will leave the reader more than just amused. This story is a very unconventional way of approaching something that’s become cliché in the writing world.
In the author’s note, Brenda Bishop Blakey informs us that this piece came from a prompt. Not just a prompt, but one of those “create a story from a big list of words” prompts. For most of us, this is just a writing exercise that doesn’t go anywhere. This is not at all the case for Brenda Bishop Blakey. Her story is a marvelous motorcycle adventure that will leave you grinning along with the characters.
“The Havisham Complex” begins with two people meeting at a botanical garden. Doesn’t sound very riveting, but don’t dismiss it. From there, it dives into a delightful and engaging conversation that could serve as a crash course in dialogue usage. There isn’t a wasted word as the characters reveal themselves and tell their stories. This is a relationship we can really feel.
Dog stories are tough to write. They generally are overly sentimental or just plain cliché. “Vera’s Nemesis” is neither of those things. Through Vera and Zoey, Magda Sullivan creates a story with both bark and bite. There’s plenty of doggie action here, but there’s something much deeper going on. As Magda tells us in her author’s note, this is a story written to draw attention to her novel, Delilah, My Woman. Magda, you have my attention.
“Cricket Box” is a gorgeous piece of writing that demonstrates nearly everything a piece of flash fiction can do. The prose is captivating and breathtaking, and Katrina Trepsa somehow creates an engaging and fully developed story in just 300 words. The opening description is the type of scene-setting that most writers only wish they could accomplish: “There is no frost to compare to moonbeams; no wind carries lotus fragrance or rustles maple leaves; no rain transforms pine trees into parasols; the moon is too ripe to call a sliver, too thin to call full; and the wild geese have yet to start their southbound flight.”
Nathaniel Tower is the author of the absurd short story collection Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands and the satirical novella Use, Remove, Repeat. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 publications and has been included on the storySouth Million Writers notable stories list. He is the founding and managing editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. Nathaniel currently resides in Minnesota with his wife and two daughters.