I remember enjoying the peacefulness by floating around on a child’s ducky-tube while sipping on a jigger of a bottom-shelf tequila.
—-Edward Wolf, Marooned
It’s a sloppy, grey Connecticut winter, and this is a bad town for Mexican food. You are a white girl in the vestibule of Rancho Allegre waiting to pick up three Chile Relleno dinners. You will pay with your father’s American Express card. You are thirty years old, unemployed, and have recently moved in with your parents.
—-CJ Hauser, Jackalope Run
CJ Hauser teaches creative writing and literature at Colgate University. Her most recent novel. Family of Origin, will be published by Doubleday in July 2019. She is also the author of the novel The From-Aways and her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Narrative Magazine, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly. Esquire, Third Coast, and The Kenyon Review. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and a PhD from Florida State University. She lives in Hamilton, NY.
If I want to find out if a Mexican Restaurant is worth returning to – if they have the chops – I will order a chile relleno. This is the most difficult thing most Mexican restaurants shell out. It their chile relleno is good – the rest of the food probably is.
I too hate it when the restaurant has its staff come to my table and sing Happy Birthday. I hate it even more when they go to someone else’s table.
No wonder her daughter hated her, what a bore she has become. If only she could have something of her own, something for which she could be recognized: horn-rimmed glasses, a special rhythm to her walk, a nickname. She imagines a scenario in which several suited men lean in close over cigars in a dimly lit restaurant. Her name is mentioned. Oh Ramona, one of them would say, And what a woman she is.
—-T Kira Madden, We Are Other People Tonight
from Midnight Breakfast
T Kira Madden is an APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. Her work has most recently appeared in The Kenyon Review, Tin House Online, Puerto del Sol, and HYPHEN. She is a 2014 and 2016 MacDowell fellow, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of No Tokens Journal.
Boca Raton means “Rat’s Mouth.” Well… not really….
The Spanish named it Boca de Ratones. Although Boca translates, literally, as mouth, here it means inlet. Ratones, literally, means mice, but it was also a term used by navigators to refer to sharp rocks below the surface of the water. … The name Boca Raton shifted to a new inlet that formed later.
He’s an exile from Nicaragua. He’s a ruffian of course and a bandit, but not a bad fellow.
—–The Man With the Scar, Somerset Maugham
Every now and then I like to share a short story that is readable online. I used to do this a month at a time every couple years ( 2013, Day One 2015, Day One 2017) and may yet this year – but for now… here’s one.
Today’s story is The Man With the Scar. You can read a PDF of it here.
I was cleaning out the files on a laptop when I stumbled across a PDF entitled The Man With the Scar. It was a short story by Somerset Maugham. Obviously, I had read it before and downloaded it, but I didn’t really remember it. I re-read it and then searched my archives to see if I had written about it before. It was mentioned here – in a review of another Somerset Maugham short story. I had forgotten how much I loved his short stories. I had read the thing in a lending library at a park downtown – Klyde Warren – the park build over a freeway.
But I had never linked to the story itself.
Which is a shame, it’s a little piece of greatness. What a horrible tale told in such high-falutin’ language. It encapsulates the insane evil that springs forth when human life is held in such little regard.
Is the Man With the Scar a hero or a villain? An evil man… maybe, or an ordinary man caught in a hopeless farrago of wickedness. He does at least take a stand… but it is such a depraved stance. He realizes that beauty has no place in his world – no place for mercy or for sacrifice.
I guess our only reaction to a story like this is to rejoice we don’t live in the same place as these characters do… or to maybe at least hope we don’t.
But those in the mix know what blood tastes like.
—-Nancy M. Michael, Sea Change
I used to take a month each year to comment on and link to short stories published online.
Short Story Months:
I haven’t done that for a while, but have been thinking about it. That doesn’t keep me from reviewing them one at a time. Last year, I wrote about Driven Snow by Nancy M. Mitchel. The author commented on my blog entry (with the surprising revelation that the story was true and the woman survived). She mentioned that she had another story on the Akashic book website, Sea Change.
Go read it – a short, pithy read. Then you can come back and read the rest of what I wrote.
It’s of an interesting construction in that the protagonist isn’t directly involved in the action. Stories like that are cool because there are two stories – the main, observed action… and the reaction of the observer. It’s quite a feat to accomplish this in so few words.
“Life is a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle.”
― Jim Thompson
I read a lot of short stories. I read A LOT of short stories. In most cases I read pretty much a short story a day. I like to read them, I don’t have much time for long novels, and I like to write them.I have learned that it is best that I read what I am writing.
Over time, I have spent months where I review and online short story each day –
Short Story Months:
Day One 2013
Instead of doing an entire month, I think I’ll put up stories I enjoy one at a time.
There is a fantastic independent publishing house, Akashic Books. From their website:
Akashic Books is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers.
In particular, I enjoy their Noir series – each book consisting of a group of savage short stories based in a particular city. I have written about their Noir books based on the two cities I am most familiar with: Dallas Noir and New Orleans Noir.
They have a tasty extensive list of short and flash fiction available online.
Today I have a free online short story put out by Akashic Books. It’s a warped little romantic tale about how a relationship handles a snowstorm on I70 in Colorado. The flash fiction piece is a lot of fun – though it seems to have one obvious little error (Isn’t it nights in WHITE satin?).
Like the city-themed Noir books, fiction, especially thrillers or horror, is always more fun when it is set somewhere that you are familiar with. I am somewhat familiar with I70 through the mountains, Loveland Pass and Ski Basin, the scenic route off the Interstate to A Basin, and the feeling of snow whiteout conditions.
I remember jockeying down that stretch of highway in a blinding blizzard with a tiny Datsun jockying with a string of monstrous snowplows going 80 miles an hour inches off my bumper and looking bigger than the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Whew! just the memory makes me feel frozen and sweaty at the same time.
So take a few minutes to go read the story and while you are there – check out Akashic Books and their other offerings. They deserve our support.
Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.
Today’s story, for day 30 – SCHOOL by Melissa Goodrich
Read it online here:
SCHOOL by Melissa Goodrich
They eat spicy Cheetos and Ramen noodles, have the kind of beautiful faces that crack rearview mirrors.
—-Melissa Goodrich, SCHOOL
We were talking today, like we often do, about Game of Thrones, gratuitous nudity, and little person sex. I said, as I often do, “The problem with the world that Game of Thrones is set in, is that everybody’s life is miserable. From the most destitue peasant to the kings of the world, nobody is happy and life is so difficult and, despite the gratuitous nudity and little person sex, so joyless… If I lived there, I’d just kill myself, and anyone else would too.”
Someone else said, as they often do, “It’s like the life we live today.”
I replied, “No, we don’t live in miserable times… we live in the crazy times.”
Interview with Melissa Goodrich:
Is writing more of a blessing or a curse?
God. Both. I usually think I’m not writing enough. I’m haunted by those people who write every day, and run ten miles, and read new books and journals, and eat organically nurtured produce…I’m still a cereal-eater, a sleeper-inner, a person who writes slowly and then binge-watches TV.
But the blessing is I trust my voice now. And I trust that writing should be joyous and surprising, and that none of it is wasteful.
—-from Cultured Vultures