Fiction Circular 3/15/19

§00. Editor’s note: links affixed to author/publisher’s name will redirect to author/publisher social media, links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to the site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses on lone individuals who publish their own literary work, ‘organizations’ section focuses upon independent presses, lit-mags, e-zines and other literary organizations who publish fictive work of multiple authors and ‘literary ephemera’ focuses on non-prose non-fiction literature, such as certain poems, news and art theory articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: a publication is considered ‘independent’ if it is self-contained and sustaining, that is to say, if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess or financial backing of large corporations, academies, governments or other large entrenched organizations. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will not be included on the list, not due to the quality or lack thereof of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent).


§. AUTHORS

From Shreya Vikram, Paper Doll, by Shreya Vikram. A phantasmal and cautionary digression on art and emotion.

The heart, you see, is a deceitful thing. Its blood will choke you as fast as it gushes with life. In the end, it’s your heart that will guide the knife to your own throat.

 

— Paper Doll


From Steve Hart, Promise of Shaconage (pronounced Sha-co-NAH-hey), a novel in serialized form. One of the most interesting new literary projects I’ve yet come across. Highly recommended.

The river teemed with danger.

Timpoochee sensed it and was, suddenly, unsure about it all.

Water was Timpoochee’s love. The river, the long man, running from the tops of the mountains of the blue world to the great salt water was the beginning of all life. The water feeds his rich land, tapped by tall, stately pines which sway in the wind and moan soft, low protests to the disturbance…

 

— Promise of Shaconage, Act 1: The Water


From The Dark Netizen, Purpose. A (very) short horror story.

“I noticed you. That proves you are unusual,” said the Scarecrow; “and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”

 

— Purpose


§. ORGANIZATIONS

From 101 Words, The Visitor, flash-fiction by Renate Schiansky. Anticipation and diffidence. Feels like a story half-told. Like so many flash-fiction pieces, I wish it were longer.

“Everything must be in perfect shape for him! She vacuums the carpet and swipes the tiles. The doorbell rings. Her heart beats faster.”

 

— The Visitor


From Fictive Dream, Being The Murdered Professor, by Cathy Ulrich. On a death in a family and life thereafter. Curious in that it is written in the style of a eulogy, but to the dead, rather than the living. There isn’t much in the way of a resolution but, perhaps, that was the point.

The minister will stand at the front of the chapel. He’ll barely need the microphone clipped to his lapel, his voice rising like riverflow. He’ll read the words of Matthew, Mark, John, Paul. He’ll say this song was written by a man who lost everything, have the congregation sing It Is Well With My Soul. The minister will relate to your death through the words of men, the minister will fill the chapel with the words of men.

 

— Being The Murdered Professor


From Flash Back Fiction, From Darjeeling, With Love, by Kiira Rhosair. The tale of beleaguered field worker. The story, like many of Flash Back Fiction’s published pieces, is accompanied by a audio reading of the text. Ms. Rhosair has a novel forthcoming.

“Uphill, lush rows of foliage are speckled with faded cotton saris. Her sisters in suffering have moved on. She wonders if one might have a drop to spare. Neither her legs nor her voice will carry up. The country is free but she is not, trapped in the mazes of this place the sahibs call Heppi Balli.”

 

— From Darjeeling, With Love


From Flash Fiction Magazine, A Touch of Glass, by Rob McClure Smith. A tale of a deranged man who believes he is made out of glass. I don’t agree with the illusioned man that we are “all glass” but many people are certainly more brittle than they might outwardly appear. Additionally, Mr. Smith’s prose is very good. Looking forward to more of his work.

“You think a mirror lies?”

“A window is not a mirror,” I informed him.

“We are all glass,” he said, looking very serious. “The slightest touch of another breaks us, and we return to nothing. You are a glass man for I see right through you.”

 

— A Touch of Glass


From Monkeybicycle, An Imaginary Number, by Sian Griffiths. A whimsical tale of a mathematically talented girl who encounters waltzing beings from another planet.

“That night, she danced with aliens. They spoke to her in math.”

 

— An Imaginary Number


From Public House Magazine, Solstice (1998), by Dan Klefstad. The story of a seemingly normal man who works for a extraordinary being, a alluring and mysterious vampire named Fiona; however, problems arise when another vampire, the cold and aristocratic Søren Fillenius, arrives at their residence.

A fantastic work. Highly recommended.

“Fiona never spoke with me about anything like this. She’s only 230. I assumed she’d be fine as long as I set my alarm each night before dawn. My voice cracks: ‘Fiona expects to die before you do?'”

 

— Solstice


From Reflex Press, Have We Got A Story For You?, by Al Kratz. A flash piece wherein a fly named Notorious is slain and creativity is embraced in all its undulations, its peaks and pitfalls.

“Why should the dull get light? We shove notes into our back pockets and judge the end of the storm.”

 

— Have We Got A Story For You?


From Surfaces, A Good Thing In Bad Shape by Shane Jesse Christmass. A short tale of a hard-scrabble American couple living fast in metropolis. Mr. Christmass wields a unique, quicksilver style that, to my knowledge, bares few comparisons. *best of the week

“A great dome full of machinery … intricate mechanisms … molten metal.”

 

— A Good Thing In Bad Shape


From Terror House Magazine, First Day In Hell, by Dior. A black comedy of a hapless souls argent passage through the fiery deep. The story is quite humorous, though the writing feels a bit rushed. In my opinion, the author has quite a promising career ahead as a social satirist.

The man came across another person for the first time since his arrival. It was a man hanging from a medieval-style gallows, but his eyes were open and moving. “Hello?” the man asked, as more of a test rather than a greeting. “Hello. You’re new, I assume,” the hanged man replied. “Yeah, I just got here,” the man replied, still hopping from foot to foot. “How long have you been up there?” “Since 2006,” the hanged man replied with a sigh. “Why are you down here; you seem like a normal old man,” he asked, looking up at the elderly man dangling from the rope. “Well, it’s a long story. When you get to reception, ask the Devil if you can use a computer and Google John Money; that’s my name. That will tell you all that you need to know-”

 

— First Day In Hell


From The Arcanist, Lucky Albert, by K. C. Shaw. A tale of a man who is continuously assailed by a mysterious assassin and yet remains completely and impossibly unscathed. Things are not as they seem…

“Someone tried to kill me!” Albert joined a group of his followers and accepted the first of what he expected would be many pints. “I was on my way down the Varner Fell when a boulder tumbled in front of me. It missed me by inches!”

“Just an accident, unfortunately,” someone muttered.

“Oh yes?” Albert said, instantly belligerent — his defining trait. He swaggered over to the man who had spoken, an elderly shepherd with a dog under his chair. “That’s the third time this week alone I’ve had an accident.”

 

— Lucky Albert


From X-R-A-Y, Now He Sees Shadows, by Gregg Williard. On George W. Bush, Heinlein and art.

“I appreciate your point of view,” he told me. “But many Americans do not enjoy  modern art or space stories. That’s what makes our democracy great.  And why the enemies of freedom hate us.”

 

— Now He Sees Shadows


§. LITERARY EPHEMERA

From New Pop Lit, How To Change Literature, by Karl Wenclas. A short update on NPL’s still-congealing literary model, which they dub the “3D Story.” Very interested to see its debut (and if you’re a author or avid reader then you probably should be too).

“EVERYONE involved in the literary game in any way needs it– including at the highest levels, which are filled with caretakers and functionaries as much as literary artists. The scene is starved for a new kind of product– akin to the automobile business in the early 1950’s before the arrival of the Corvette, the Thunderbird, and the Mustang. (Especially had the only models available back then been stodgy Studebakers and Ramblers. Which is the condition of today’s established literary world.)”

 

— How To Change Literature


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Archive Obscura: A List of Small, Independent Literary Publications

Editor’s note: this list is still being compiled and will be updated semi-regularly. Names of publications arranged in alphabetical order (with numbers preceding letters). Links will be added shortly. If you are a member of one of the organizations listed and you wish to be removed (or if you are not and wish to be added), email us at logosliterature@yandex.com, or contact our administrator.


101 Words [@101words]

Channillo [@_Channillo]

Defiant Scribe [@Defiant_Scribe]

Drunken Pen Writing [@drunkpenwriting]

Ellipsis Zine [@EllipsisZine]

Fictive Dream [@FictiveDream]

FlashBack Fiction [@FlashBackFic]

Flash Fiction Magazine [@flashficmag]‏

Forge Litmag [@forge_litmag]

gn0me [@gnOmebooks]

Gray Matter Press [@GreyMatterPress]

Hagstone Publishing [@HagstonePub]‏

Idle Ink [@_IdleInk_]

Jokes Review [@JokesReview]

Literally Stories [@LiterallyStory]

Lunarian Press [@LunarianPress]‏

Monkey Bicycle [@monkeybicycle]

Okay Donkey [@okaydonkeymag]

Reflex Press [@reflexfiction]

Sinister Grin Press [@SinisterGrinPre]

Spelk [@SpelkFiction]

Story Shack [@thestoryshack]‏

Surfaces [@SURFACEScx]

Terror House Magazine [@terrorhousemag]

The Arcanist [@The_Arcanists]

The Copybook [@CopybookThe]

The Crusader Magazine [@TheCrusaderMag]

The Dark Calls [@The_Dark_Calls]‏

The Molotov Cocktail [@MolotovLitZine]

X-R-A-Y [@xraylitmag]


More publications will be added as we find them.

Fiction Circular 2/5/19

Editor’s note: Links affixed to author/publisher names will redirect to author/publisher social media; links affixed to story/article names will redirect to the named story/article.


INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

First up, Andrea Nicosia published a untitled short story concerning a dream.

A dire battle, and I was fighting. — A. Nicosia

Jason Simon published, On Returning, a fever dream rumination on social isolation and personal transformation.

-my heart no longer felt affection for these alien people and their barbaric rituals, their trivial matters of fleeting importance or their malevolent, false gods. — On Returning

Noah J. Wayne published the long-form short story, Convict. A story of one woman struggling within a partially automated prison. Highly recommended.

“Five minutes have been added to your sentence due to disobedience,” the guard said. — Convict

Sara Codair published Are We Like The Phoenix? A steampunk flash-fiction concerning volcanoes and time-travel. Whilst the plot and characters were interesting, it suffered from the perennial problem which afflicts nearly all flash fiction: being too short.

Even over the rhythmic growl of the ships engine, Lisbeth heard thousands of micro gears churning away. Of all the arcane devices she possessed, this one was the most powerful. — Are We Like The Phoenix

Stumbled across Vic Smith‘s 2018 short story, Caged, a gritty crime thriller.

He’d got Frank out of Dartmoor, and had to stand guard over him in this dingy flat and wait for orders.

They hadn’t come. Whatever the plan had been, it had failed. — Caged


INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

From Cheap Pop, Sanctus Spiritus, 1512 by Sarah Arantza Amador.

The camp cried and prayed, and she sat in her cage, focused on the smell of sea brine and the cook’s meaty neck. — Sanctus Spiritus, 1512

Also from Cheap Pop, Still Life With Prairie, 1860, by Natalie Teal McCallister.

Little girls be brave, brave as your mother. Little boys be meant for the earth, let your blood water the prairie and come alive again in the red of sunset. — Still Life With Prairie

From Coin Man Stories, Puzzles, Part 1, by José Alves de Castro.

– And now, for 200 points: Find the difference!

The audience stared excitedly as the contestants probed into the two universes looking for anything that might be different, each of the contenders searching differently for the tiniest changes. — Puzzles, Part 1

From Flash Fiction Magazine, Dead by Joe Cappello.

Martin Aurely was dead inside. It wasn’t physical, but a persistent feeling that there was no feeling. Where there is no feeling, there can be no life. — Dead

From Hagstone Publishing, Let Me In by Michelle Simpkins.

She can deal with the fingertips scuttling over the glass window of her front door. She can pretend they are tree branches scraping the house. She doesn’t mind the muddy footprints on the porch. If she doesn’t look too closely in the morning, she can tell herself an animal visited during the night.

It’s the voice that sends her diving under the blankets with crawling skin and clenched teeth. — Let Me In

From Jokes Review, Tropicana On Steroids by Sean Trolinder.

“You don’t drink juice from a needle.” — Tropicana On Steroids

From New York Tyrant Magazine, I Called Shotgun When You Died by Christopher Kennedy.

I come to understand eventually: There is no sun. There are no stars. The coast is never clear. — I Called…

From Reflex Press, Night Swimming by Susan Carol.

She could not swim but we still swim for her. Search the ocean for her and find her only at night. — Night Swimming

From Spelk Fiction, Roachburn, 1908 by Neil Campbell.

In the village of Roachburn, all blinds are drawn. The pregnant woman cries night and day. Another woman cries. A mother and an aunt cry too, behind walls buffeted by winds across the moorland. — Roachburn, 1908

From Terror House, Moments, Part 1 by Chika Echebiri.

I feel my shoulders slump as I begin to weep softly, thinking that Richard could be lying helplessly somewhere, seriously wounded or even dead. — Moments, Part 1

From X-R-A-Y, Blood! by Oliver Zarandi.

I remember, he says. Your life is one filled with tragedies. I may order another soup. — Blood!

LITERARY EPHEMERA

From Ghost City Press, Bird Bereavement by Alisa Velaj.

Morning was slow to come,
with a lonely canary in the other cage,
now facing the empty one in front.
Oh, how long we waited for our canary to sing!


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Time-Eaters

I don’t have no problem.”

Sure seem like you do.”

He shook his head, a fractional gesture, noticeable only due the couple’s proximity.

Well, I don’t. Was you what started yappin.”

She folded her arms below her breasts, turning slightly away, staring at nothing, muttering, “Fine.”

Yeah. It is. Why you being this way, Lyla? Ain’t never was like this between us before. Now, all a sudden, you’re constantly screwing up your face, hmph-ing all over the place, snapping at me for no good reason, constantly tryin ta start something…”

Ain’t try’n ta start nothing.”

Good, cuz there ain’t nothing to start.”

She made an expression that was midway betix the spitting-upon-of-disgust and the-self-indulgent-sigh-of-petty transgression. Harmon Kessel finished his frozen yogurt, threw it in the parking-lot trash can and turned to his girl with a expression she could not place and then fished out a cigarette and stuck it between his blood-red lips and stood smoking and watching the gulls turn circles in the thermals above the pavement.

It was one big cliché. A stupid and boring one, Harmon thought to himself with mild irritation. This venomous exchange and the countless ones that had gone before it. He was not a intemperate man but his reserve – like as every others – had its limits and in Lyla’s constant scrapping he was finding his. He blew a circle of smoke up and out over the parking lot before the ramshackle plaza, grinning-slight, proud he’d remembered how.

We’ve had this conversation before, Bluebird, and before we had it, we heard it.”

She turned to look at him from the corners of her eyes. He didn’t like that. The way she side-eyed him as if he weren’t worth the fullness of attention, as if he were merely a speck of colorful paint, floating at the terminus of all perception.

What are you on about?”

It’s the same argument I always hear from couples – that everyone hears – whether its from memories of my parents or from the parents of my friends or from my friends, newly-wed, or from some book or movie. I’ve heard it and so have you. I reckon people have been hearing it since they was able to do so. People arguing bout nothing. Eating up time. We’re time eaters. Time eaters what pay no mind to whats on their plate. That’s our problem as a species.”

She cracked an awkward smile, frailer and less broad than it used to be. He dearly missed the way she used to smile, a little slice of moon with the twin suns of her dark coffee eyes shining above it.

Anyone ever tell you that you’re strange?”

Harmon took a drag, considering. Nodded and spoke flatly.

Bout once a week nowadays.”

Can’t say I’m surprised.” She was flipping through her phone now, less than half-listening. Harmon took another drag, his expression falling into a drab blankness. He’d meant the statement as a joke. She used to laugh at that sort of thing, at his dry, off-kilter humor, driven by flat overstatements of the commonplace. Just two years ago she’d have been cackling like a hyena. Now she couldn’t seem to tell when he was being serious or not. Harmon thought maybe in him some fault lay for that; maybe he was too serious, too tense on the thread of life, like as his father had said. He never smiled anymore. It was just his way. One of the gulls swooped down to the parking lot and pecked a greasy hamburger wrapper that some litterbug had left behind. Prodding with its bladish beak til it found a fry. As Harmon watch it abscond with its prize and flutter up into the shine he wondered why he couldn’t feel sadness. Given the situation, it seemed appropriate; like as it would be the normal response. For all Lyla’s accusations of peculiarity, Harmon had always considered himself a relatively normal person. Average in most ways. Average height, average looks, or maybe, a little above average looks, average job ghostwriting with under average pay, average build, maybe leaner than most. Lean but muscular. It was only when it came to his mind that any peculiarities began to manifest themselves, odd turns of phrase and archaic words which pleased his ear and so oft poured from his lips; ruminations on the state of things that seemed beyond all ken, save his own. His grandfather had once said that Harmon spoke like a man that were unweaving a secret loom which only he could see. The random girls at the bar thought it was “sophisticated,” their boyfriends “pretentious,” Harmon’s amiable acquaintances just said he “talked funny.” He took a long drag of the fervid Fortuna and thought on the phrase “amiable acquaintances.” Most of what he had that were social were such. He reckoned he didn’t have any friends. Not anymore. None save Lyla. Only she was different. Friend and lover. Sweetheart since high-school. A bond worked for nearly 12 years. Most of the others he’d withdrawn from. He liked his solitude and hated hypocrites. Despite the shelling, his snail-like ways had never caused him any trouble, like some he’d knew who’d moan about being misunderstood. Most people weren’t hard to understand and if one found oneself alone it was only for two reasons: because one were worse than all or because one were better and didn’t seek to lead. Harmon knew he weren’t the latter as social self-ostracization were merely the plaything of the moment for him, no different than changing a tire or scaling a blue gill. Just another thing to do. But he wasn’t too sure about the former.

He looked away from the gull. Back to his girl.

She was still on her phone, drifting towards the passenger-side door.

I’ve gotta meet, Serena.”

Right, right. Art show.”

Harmon finished off his cigarette, dropped it to the blacktop and crushed it out beneath his heel with a faded serpentine hissing and then got in after the girl and drove out of the frozen yogurt shop where they’d shared their second kiss, the gravel sputtering beneath the ceaseless, half-deflated wheels of the battered 1990 Ford Escort Hatchback.

He looked over at her and smiled.

I had a good time with you. Been too long, Bluebird.”

Yeah.” She replied without excitement, gaze still fixed to her phone, as if afraid to look up. He guessed she was still talking to Serena or one of her other art school friends he’d never met.

His smile faded and he drove the rest of the journey in silence, smoking and tapping the ash out the crack of the window and watching it sputter in butterfly whorls into the oblivion-warp beyond the ambit of the roiling machine.

Fiction Circular 9/26/18

FLASH

From The Dark Netizen, the supernatural revenge story, Highway To Hell.

“Now, he was bringing hell to the demon…” —Highway To Hell.

From And Miles Before I Go To Sleep… Daughter’s Surprise by Ramya Tantry.

“You sacrificed your wishes so that you can fulfill mine.” —Daughter’s Surprise

From Heart In Print By Jaya, Where’s My Master?

“Has the master been abducted?” — Where’s My Master?

From Iain Kelly, ROXY.

“Glitz and glamour away from the gaudy Strip and the drug-riddled suburb slums.

The waitresses. All young, slim, white. Wearing just enough.” — ROXY.

From X-R-A-Y Magazine, Theme Park Suicide by Teddy Duncan. A grim tale which shows how even those who seem to have given up on life haven’t given up on human connectivity. Duncan’s work was excerpted from a as-yet unpublished chapbook.

“I just really didn’t want to feel alone when I died, no matter how fucked up it is if I was going to do it I needed an audience.” — Theme Park Suicide.

Also from X-R-A-Y Mag, The Broken Teeth Diaries by Joe Bielecki.

“We used to be in a mouth but were evicted by a fist in the winter outside of a bar by a bouncer.” —The Broken Teeth Diaries.

From Gone Lawn (issue 30), Bird Bones by Texan author, Tara Isabel Zambrano.

“One day, at work, he died of electrocution from a faulty device— his limbs twisted like the blades of a fan.” —Bird Bones.

The Story Hive is back in business with Med Bay Snippet #6. An interesting sci-fi, though you may want to catch up on parts 1 through 5 before reading part 6.

“There it is, that dirty humor that keeps us all alive. That and the air, the pressure, the heat, and the food.” —Med Bay Snippet #6.


BOOK-LENGTH WORKS

From hidden gem, Gn0me, Under Forests of Futility by Rasu-Yong Tugen, Baroness de Tristeombre. A collection of poems by the author of A Natural History of Seaweed Dreams and Songs from the Black Moon.

“Vast lattices of black shale engulf us while we sleep. Primordial roots hunch over, as if in prayer. Arching acacia and star pine whisper spectral apprehensions. Black opal rains submerge everything permanent.” — Under Forests of Futility.


LITERARY EPHEMERA

From The Rational Arumentator, Victory Against The Formican Hordes by Gennady Stolyarov II, a poem.

“Deep in the crevices where there is scantly light,
Formican hordes amassed, antitheses of right:
The tyrant queen, attendant sycophantic knaves,
Vast quantities of servants – or compliant slaves –
Not even one savant among them to protest
Antagonistic ploys to rouse their dormant nest.
In wanton disregard of property and tact alike
At my abode they militantly sought to strike,
Past every antechamber to the kitchen went,
Detected every speck pursuant to its scent,
In swarms outrageous antics perpetrated,
Blatantly coveted the food refrigerated!”

—Victory Against The Formican Hordes, first stanza.

Lastly, from Cristian Mihai has a short guide to writing in the form of The Definitive, Increadibly Short, Easy-To-Follow, No-Bullshit Guide To Blogging.

“-stop complaining and punch those damn keys.” — The Definitive etc Guide To Blogging.


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Writing Prompt 9/22/18 – Obsession

#1

No matter the time of day, his thoughts turned ever to the case, to that fragile, crumpled body lying at the base of the willow…


#2

Her idee fixe compelled her to follow him, despite the racing of her heart, rattling in her chest like the war drums of some agued god…


#3

“You’re obsessed with the damned things… sometimes… sometimes I think you like your trinkets more than us!”


If you used our prompts to write a story (of whatever length) give us a message on twitter at @KaiterEnless

Fiction Circular 8/24/18

WEEKLY FICTION | compiled by KAITER ENLESS


FLASH FICTION

Over at The Dark Netizen, several pieces of flash fiction most notably, Lights In The Water. I’ll be perfectly frank that most flash fiction feels under developed; too airy for public consumption. Simply writing something should not predispose one to put it up for others to read. However, Netizen’s excellent piece baffles expectations with a emotional twist ending. Some much from so little! Also from the Dark Netizen, No Entry, another (very) short piece.

We’ll certainly be interested to see what he can do with longer works where he has more time to build upon characters and themes.

The Story Hive published, The Weight Curse, a short tale about a haunting, tea and, as the title suggests, a curse. Certainly seems like good groundwork for a more elaborate and detailed story.


SHORT STORIES

Longshot Press has a fascinating and sad story entitled Lawrencium by Liz Kellebrew. As I have stated before and will continue to state well into the future, the beginning of any story is the most important part, for if you fail to capture a reader’s attention at the first, they will read no further and then it will not matter how interesting or well-developed the rest of the story. This is a principal Ms. Kellebrew has taken to heart for her story begins, “There was a giant jellyfish in the St. Lawrence River-” I’m hooked already (Why is jellyfish? How is jellyfish? What does it mean?!).

Recommended and the Logos pick for Best Of The Week.

You can find more of Kellebrew’s work at her website: lizkellebrew.com

Speaking of jellyfish, Jellyfish Review has a peculiar story entitled Dump Truck by Robert Long. The plot follows a pig who is observed getting aroused by trash; I’ll not say it is a pleasant read but there is a clever metaphor here that I shant spoil for the prospective reader.

Terror House Mag has a fantastic story this week in The Crowman by Charlie Chitty. Something like a fusion of The Crow and The Mothman Prophecies. It would have been our pick for best of the week but it, far too often violates the dictum: Show don’t tell. That being said, it is still well worth reading. TerrorHouse senior editor Glahn’s darkly hilarious White Dwarf is also well worth a read (even if you aren’t big on fiction, take a gander at the cover image). If we gave out a Most Bizarre Of The Week award, White Dwarf would easily be top contender. You can find Glahn’s Twitter here.

X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine published a excerpt from Drift by Chris Campanioni, entitled Born Under Punches.

“As a rule, I strive for lucidity in loneliness-“

Drift stands out for its stylistic uniqueness, a Delilloesque stream of consciousness which conveys speed and emotional intensity. It is only a excerpt and for this reason can not be evaluated of its own accord given that it is meant to be read as a part of a much larger piece. We can however say that it certainly accomplished its promotional goal; we’re quite interested in reading the full text upon release.


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

I have started going through my old stack of paperbacks and discovered some treats which I had either never read or never finished. One of those I had finished but only read once was the tepidly received Hannibal Rising (2006, Delacorte) by Thomas Harris. Reading it through a second time I liked it much better. Even if it is fairly scattershot and a little too sparse in sections (especially as concerns Hannibal’s uncle), it is stylistically, my favorite Harris novel.

“Night heron revealed

By the rising harvest moon –

Which is lovelier?”

Hannibal Rising, p. 145.


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Rumination One | What Did It Matter?

When I awoke from the dream the world seemed to have shifted. As if something within me had moved or grown or diminished, I knew not which, only that something was different. It were as if I had carried those fateful imaginings back into the waking world with their full weight, as if they lingered in the air about me. I remembered the man man’s ax hacking through my flesh and the ocean of blood and the bodies, half-alive and rendered by great columns of barbed wire so thick and expansive that they were more mountain-range than scrap heap. Yet never once had my constant passanger appeared; it was the first time in many nights he had abandoned me completely. Why? Had I done something to displease him or had he simply grown bored of my company? The very thought sent shockwaves of anger throughout my inner sanctum. He could have warned me! Could have girded me against that malformed and perilous realm! If I had displeased him, let him tell me how, let him tell me why. If he had grown bored of my company, let him say as much, for I was not so pathetic as to be unable to bare the brunt of such a emotional assault.

All these thoughts and more swirled throughout my fast churning mind as I rose from my bed and stretched in the amber’d light before the window pane of my loft.

It was just a dream.

What did it matter?

The Photographer’s Dilemma (I)

Ariadne Campbell scoffed.

“It’s… really quite dreadful. He’s talented, clearly, but it’s just so… grotesque.”

The woman’s companion, a bulky man with golden hair, dressed in a blazer that was far less expensive than it looked, folded his arms took a step away from the painting. He scanned the composition for a few moments and then returned his gaze to Campbell.

“I have to disagree with you. I think it’s lovely. No, that isn’t the right word. Striking.”

“You’re far too accommodating, Calvin; you never like to say a negative word. No spine beneath all those muscles.”

“It’s not that I am afraid to critique, it’s just in this I find nothing to critique at all. It’s magnificent, really.”

“It’s shock-drivel. I mean, rape… really?”

“Are you sure all that faulty ire isn’t just a result of Lynder Partridge getting top-slot and you getting… well, nothing.”

Some art reviewers from the local papers walked by, sizing up the massive canvas and it’s disconcerting contents. They stroked their stubbly chins and scratched out some notes and chattered amongst themselves about the latest cinematic releases and celebrity scandals.

“You seen the latest Captain Omega film?” A pudgy, balding man with a windbreaker inquired to a young, starry eyed Asain woman who stood beside him. She shook her head mane, “No. Haven’t seen them, superhero movies are rather… I don’t know I just don’t find them interesting. They’re all… it’s like the same film over and over again. There is no dramatic tension because you know the good guy will always win. You know one thing I was thinking about was how morality is handled in these films, superhero films, action films generally,” the fat man nodded blankly, he wasn’t really listening, didn’t really care, his eyes scanned the room, seeking out the all-stars from the world of the arts; there was always a scoop, if one was keen enough to but find it. The woman droned on, “So like, they’re always just like good and noble and whatever which is fine and all except that, ya know, they’re actually vigilantes. I mean, think about it, that’s what superheroes are, really. If someone dressed up in a mask and a cape and went around beating up criminals we’d all think they were crazy.”

The fat man turned to his companion with a knowing glint in his eye, “Lady, we pay good money to watch the mistresses of inner-city thugs throw tampons at each other; I think we’re all crazy.”

The woman gasped and turned to her friends to relay the horror she had just witnessed as the fat man cracked a grin and moved up stand between Campbell and Calvin, examining the elaborate drawing in between darting glances to the aloof duo.

“You’re the famous Ms. Campbell, aren’t you? The photographer, right?”

Campbell was surprised and flattered to be recognized; she tried in vain not to let it show through.

“Yes. Do we know each other?”

“Nope. But I know you know. I’m Ashton Derby,” he flashed a well-filled notepad in front of her face, “Been following your work. Pretty stuff, very pretty stuff, you’ve got a keen eye.”

“Apparently you do as well,” she smiled smugly, luxuriating in her burgeoning fame, “Are you an artist yourself?”

“No, not me. Ha, can barely draw a stick figure. I just like writing about it. I fancy that’s what the shrinks would call ‘cathartic release.’ Or voyeurism… or something like that.”

“What do you make of Partridge’s work; his drawings?”

“They’re… different. They’re kinda… I dunno… disturbing.”

Campbell turned to Calvin with triumph shinning in her eyes, “See, I told you he wasn’t all that.”

“Oh no, it isn’t that I think they’re bad, I mean, it’s like a car crash, it’s horrible but I can’t look away, that’s kind of a testament to the artist, don’t you think? Whole reason I came to this gala event was to snag an interview with the elusive Lynder Partridge, guy never answers my emails, phone calls, nothing. He’s a hermit. Ya know, I tried looking him up… weirdest thing, there are no photographs of the guy anywhere, online, in papers. Must be camera shy.”

Campbell’s heart shrunk. She was so sick and tired of hearing that name. So sick and tired of everyone praising such a rank amateur. This should have been her event. HER gala. If only… if only…

Now it was Calvin who looked victorious, he arched a brow in his friend’s direction as if to say, “Still so haughty?” Campbell crossed her arms about her breasts and bite her lip and then scoffed at the fat man.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe our collective tastes have reached such lows. Decades ago this city used to be the art capital of the world and now… THIS? This is what passes as art? This ghastly aberration?! Lynder Partridge is nothing more than an over-hyped elitist.”

Darby was taken aback and for a moment he stood in stunned silence; he’d not expected such a sudden deluge of passion. Calvin only sighed, it was not the first time he’d witnessed such an outburst. Before either of the men could respond, a new voice fluttered over the air, low and scratchy and strangely sonorous.

“I’ve been called many things, Ms. Campbell, but never ‘over-hyped’.”

All heads turned to behold a man of middling height and pale flesh standing before them. The intruder wore an off-white suit, expertly tailored, a red tie and a jet black overcoat, tipped at the collar with expensive furs and leather loafers that clattered musically upon the gala’s marbled floor as the cane that followed with them. His features were sharp and angular and his opaque blue eyes reflected the light in prismatic sparks that were diluted from the thick and serpentine whorls of smoke that roiled up from a daintily clutched cigarette – half smoked – which he held in his left and leather gloved hand.

Darby’s face lit up as he saw the man, his long-sought quarry as Campbell’s own fell in dismay. She’d not actually expected to meet the man when she’d accepted invitation as Partridge was notoriously aloof. Some who knew him reported that he was partial to month long vanishing acts; where he went was anyone’s guess.

“M-Mr. Partridge! Hello, I’m-”

“Ashton Darby. Newspaper man. Culture reporter for The New Daily Standard. I read your column,” the fat man waited in vain for the artist to comment on the quality of his writing; when he did not, the light faded from his eyes and he twirled the notepad with agitation, “And you are Ariadne Campbell, and this must be your friend,” Lynder turned to Calvin with the faintest trace of a smile and extended one of his thin, leather-gloved hands.

“Calvin Mercer, pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Partridge.”

“Likewise.”

“Do forgive my friend here, she sometimes gets a little carried away, I’m sure she didn’t mean-”

“I meant absolutely everything I said,” Ariadne snapped hotly, her gaze narrowing and her mouth going taunt. It occurred to her suddenly that this chance encounter opened up a whole world of new possibilities for her career. Perhaps, she thought, Darby would even write her up in one of his columns! If there were to be a public spat, surely someone would pick it up. One of the tabloids. One of the screamsheets. Tantalized, she steeled her resolve.

“Your art is dreadful.”

Darby nearly gasped while Calvin simply shook his head in resigned vexation; why, he thought, could she never behave herself? There always had to be a show…

Lynder’s face registered nothing. His facade as placid and impenetrable as a Venetian mask.

“You’re a photographer, are you not, Ms. Campbell?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“What I should fancy is truly cause for dread is the photographers’ dilemma; the photographer is a documentarian through and through. He does not create, he captures creation.”

“All art is documentation.”

“This is true. Art is documentation of one’s own creation, not of anothers. The photographer who does not arrange his or her own scenes, why,” Lynder finally turned towards her, it was the first time he had looked directly at Campbell since he’d entered the scene; his head level, piercing blue eyes unblinking, “She wouldn’t really even be an artist at all, but merely a voyeur, a vessel for the real actors to communicate. A medium.”

Campbell froze having noticed the gender switch – he to she – she’d heard the words but they did not instantly register in her mind. When they had sunk in she groped for a retort but there was nothing other than the rattling of the crowd like a great and baying pack of hounds echoing all throughout the hall surrounding and her own rapid cluttering thoughts which slithered up from the viscous recesses of her frantic mind. She had never considered such a position before; she knew he was wrong, of course, indeed, had to be, but she could not articulate why and in due course began to question her own conviction. I’m not… I’m not just some documentarian. I’m an artist. Just like you. Only better. Far better. You think you can talk down to me because you’re on the rise? Because you’ve got a little bit of local fame? Because you got the gala slot and not me?! I’ll show you, you arrogant bastard. I’ll show you!

Campbell made a showing of carelessness, sighing and turning from Lynder as if he bored her, though, in truth, it was to escape his gaze. Most people looked off at regular intervals when they were talking with someone but Lynder’s eyes never wavered, he was focused wholly upon her, expectant, she assumed, of a reply. She didn’t like it. Didn’t like him or his weird eyes or his fancy coat or his preened dress clothes beneath it. Didn’t like the gala and the insect clattering of the crowd.

She wanted to get out. Needed to get out.

“This conversation bores me, I’m leaving,” she thought that might do it, that that would stir some hint of passion from him, rouse some semblance of anger. But there was nothing. His cold, blue eyes and his sharp pale face remained wholly immobile, unfazed.

Momentarily, Lynder inclined his head respectfully, sincerely, “Good’day, Ms. Campbell.”

It took considerable willpower for Campbell to keep herself from running from the gala. The bastard had won, she thought to herself, and what was more infuriating was that she was fairly certain the battle was entirely constrained within the confines of her own mind. He had won today, but she vowed she’d never allow him the upper hand again.

*

 

She scanned Darby’s column as soon as it was released. There was no mention of “Ariadne Campbell.” Ariadne cursed herself; I should have made a better impression on Darby and a worser impression on HIM. I should have… I should have…

“Something on your mind, Ms. Campbell? You look worried.”

She turned to her model where he stood in the albescent loft, naked and holding a fig. Putting down the paper upon her worktable she looked up at the man and shook her head.

“It’s nothing. Hold the fig a little higher.”

“Like this?”

“Yes, good. Good.”

Only it wasn’t good. It was a stiff and cliche sub-par Renaissance-era facsimileism. It was deplorable. She looked at the digital camera reel, picture after picture of the lithe, muscular young man in various poses of heroic splendor as hackneyed and messageless as the splicing on-to of Roman columns upon a Brutalist facade. She had attempted Homeric Joe McNally and ended up as just another amateur floundering at the fathomless edges of the new. She sighed and leaned back, setting the camera down with a dull clack upon the worktable and sipped some lukewarm bourbon from a small, squat wineglass. She hadn’t been able to find any of the damned shot glasses, she wondered idly if Calvin had thieved one for his upcoming flat-party. He’d better not have…

“Ms. Campbell, I could really use a stretch, like I said before, I don’t mind posing a little over-time, and we’re,” he looked towards his mobile phone’s clock, “ten minutes over, “But I’ve been doing this pose for almost twenty minutes straight, neck is killin’ me.”

“Yeah. Sure. Fine.”

She was only half listening. Frustration’s savage increase consumed the whole of her mind. She couldn’t find her shot glasses. She couldn’t get a gala slot. She couldn’t get featured in any of the big name art columns even if she was being recognized by their writers. She still couldn’t think of rebuttal to Lynder’s rebuke and as a consequence had decided to forego her typical photographic methodology of streetcrawling for real-life scenes in favor of a elaborate and meticulously crafted designer-fantasy shot. What bothered her most was that the draftsman had not spoken out of anger, but out of concern and curiosity. His low and sonorous voice echoed still.

Art is documentation of one’s own creation, not of anothers. The photographer who does not arrange his or her own scenes, why, she wouldn’t really even be an artist at all, but merely a voyeur, a vessel for the real actor’s to communicate. A medium.

A medium… is that all I really am? A vessel? She wondered with horror, her hands closing tensely upon her sunless knees, her lips and brows trembling with emotion. The week had begun so promisingly and now everything felt wrong. Fate was taking the piss.

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t pay you to psychoanalyze.”

The model threw up his hands in entreaty, his mouth going taunt, eye mired in confusion and a mild but growing sense of irritation.

“Yeesh. Sorry. Don’t know why you’re in such a foul mood today. I was just worried about you-”

“I don’t pay you to worry. I pay you to do good poses for my work. A task at which you have miserably failed. Look at this. It’s cartoonish,” she held up the camera reel screen for him to observe, “See. Look at this.”

“Those were poses you asked me to do.”

“Well, you didn’t do them very well, did you?” The question was rhetorical. She knew they were bad and she knew he knew they were bad. She just wanted him to suffer for it. He wasn’t an artist but he’d been around enough artists to know what was aesthetically pleasing and what was schlock. It was his fault, she thought, anger rising with her body from the couch. HIS, not mine!

“I don’t know what else you want from me.”

“I want you to leave. You’re fired.”

His eyes went wide, “What? Why?”

“Just get out.”

“An explanation for my CV would be appreciated.”

“I said get out.”

He turned to leave, hurriedly dressing and snatching his phone up from off the counter of the exposed kitchen island. He paused at the door and turned to look at his former boss with equal measures of disappointment and disdain.

“You ever wonder if you can’t get into the big galas because you aren’t talented or if its just because you’re a unbearable bitch? Food for thought. Have fun with the rest of your life.”

She was expecting an infuriated slam but he closed the door gently behind him. As his feet clattered down the old tenement hallway Ariadne moved to where he’d stood before the counter, as if to envelope his afterimage. Some indeterminable amount of time clocked away into nothing before she inhaled deeply and poured herself another shot of brew, sipping the golden drops in quick, nervous gulps, cursing her former employee in her mind. You never really cared about my work. You probably only cared about me because of money. Maybe you wanted to fuck me. Well, now I’ve fucked you. Bastard. 

Outside the cars tore at the concrete and a flock of birds she’d never seen before squealed by, as if in protest of gravity’s suzerainty. The city screamed and she screamed with it.