Circular 2/1/20

PROSE

From Cajun Mutt Press: Little Hymn In One Part by Mike James.

“Once, he found a perfectly good leather dog leash re-used to wrangle passing clouds.” (James, Little Hymn In One Part)

From Every Day Fiction: Marathon Girl by Tim Boiteau.

“Water station nine. Hydration, raisins, and knives, knives, knives. Knives for slashing, slicing and cutting, for gutting and jabbing, sticking and skewering — for stabbing in the back. The attendant eyes my blood-spattered arm approvingly.

I snatch up another blade. And another.” (Boiteau, Marathon Girl)

From New Pop Lit: Hamburger Hill by John Higgins.

“He took the proffered hand like a hiker’s foot and gently shook it.” (Higgins, Hamburger Hill)

From The Story Hive: Fox, Wolf & Dragon (part one) by R.C.D.

“… she was a giant magical spider, and possibly the creator of the whole world-” (R.C.D., Fox, Wolf & Dragon)


VERSE

From Jane Dougherty Writes: Groundwater by Jane Dougherty.

“… ash falls with small explosions, red / flowers before the grey and dusty end.” (Dougherty, Groundwater)

From The Drabble: Gains by The Cheesesellers Wife.

“What do we gain and gather in all those places we go?” (TCW, Gains)


ESSAYS

From Clint Smith Fiction: Intoning Malone by Clint Smith.


 

Fiction Circular 4/19/19

§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, Insomnia. She’s right: there is no plural form of ‘sheep’ – as with ‘moose.’ Should be remedied (‘sheeps,’ just like ‘mooses,’ sounds off – perhaps, following the convention for multiple octopuses – ‘octopi’ – one could have ‘sheepi’ and ‘moosi’).

“One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, you count, just like you’d been taught. The sentence sounds odd in your head. You wonder why, and then you realize: the word ‘sheep’ has no plural. Isn’t that strange? Like fish. But ‘fish’ does have a plural, for types of fishes.”

 

— Insomnia


§.ORGANIZATIONS

From Ellipsis Zine, A Nice Night for a Drive, by Benjamin Niespodziany. A charming tale of a 109 year old woman with a love for fast machinery.

“The next time we visit my grandmother, she’s gone and so is her car bed. Her third floor window is left wide open. The nurses on call didn’t hear a thing. We put out an alert in search of a 109-year-old woman lacking identification.”

 

— A Nice Night for a Drive


From Jellyfish Review, This Side of the Fjord, by Ashley Lopez.

The knitted winter cap muffles the crack of the boy’s skull. I don’t hear the sound of bone bouncing on sodden subway floor, but I do hear his shriek a moment later. From deep within the boy’s mouth comes a call produced eons before his birth and encapsulated within his DNA. A selected method and best practice for arousing the alarm and comfort mechanisms in a caregiver. A seal pup searching for his mother.

 

— This Side of the Fjord


From Kendall Reviews, The Black Cloak Of Its Wings, by Daniel Soule, a fantastic short story concerning Nature’s omnipresent, yet hidden, savagery.

“The crow was twice the pigeon’s size. It pinned the frenzy of flapping wings with wraithish talons, while its stygian eyes blinked calmly, surveying the surroundings. Perceiving no threat, the crow set to its purpose. The pigeon flailed ineffectually against the sustained violence of penetrating slashes from the blade of the crow’s beak. On and on. Over and Over. Exposing the forbidden pink of flesh, yellow of fat, blue of veins. When the pigeon fell limp, the crow took a break from its butchery, scarlet dripping from its face. All was still. Time moved as slowly as falling drops of viscus blood until, dumbly remembering it was alive, the pigeon struggled for the last of its life. The crow tilted its head to inspect the pathetic floundering, before pistoning its beak into the living corpse over and over with calm fury, until the struggling ceased.”

 

— The Black Cloak Of Its Wings


From Surfaces, The Circumstances, by Ryan Bry, a curious, uniquely written tale of a woman reading from a man’s personal journal.

“When I call my brother I always ask him: What are you proud of?  When I call my mother I usually ask her: What are you proud of? I kept my personal journal in the teller window, decided I’d let anyone read it if they asked. Here’s the story of the only girl who did.”

 

— The Circumstances


From X-R-A-Y, Meals of our Children, by Will Gilmer. A grim and gripping (and, in my opinion, too short) portrait of drug addiction.

“Gnaw marks, like the ones on his old teething ring, appeared when the doctor gave him Tramadol after hurting his shoulder during the Homecoming game. Incisors scars ran up his arms when they moved him to Norco after X-Rays showed a labrum tear. Now I’m losing him, one mouthful at a time, as broken needle teeth pile up next to the burnt spoon on his dresser.”

 

— Meals of our Children


§.LITERARY EPHEMERA

From Quartzy, The Mueller Report Has Two Spaces After Every Sentence, by Natasha Frost, a interesting and instructive foray into the ways in which technology (particularly typewriters) have shaped, and continues to shape, typing trends across digital formats. Spacing isn’t something that often garners a great deal of attention, specifically from beginning writers, however, it should, as the specificity of one’s spacing makes a tremendous difference when it comes to the legibility (and general textual aesthetics) of the work.

“The culprit here is typewriters, which allocate the same amount of space for each letter, regardless of width. Known as monospacing, this translates to a tighter fit around thickset bruisers like m and w, and a little cloud of white space around such skinny characters as i, l, and !.”

 

— The Mueller Report Has Two Spaces After Every Sentence


Lastly, the bizarre piece from ‘critical race theorist’ Sofia Leung, titled, Whiteness as Collections, which brands libraries far too ‘white’ (because of course they are). The piece is nonsensical for one who has not accepted the theological premises of critical race theory, but hilarious in its almost cartoonish predictability; she writes, “If you don’t already know, “whiteness as property,” is a seminal Critical Race Theory (CRT) concept first introduced by Cheryl I. Harris in her 1993 Harvard Law Review article by the same name. She writes, “slavery as a system of property facilitated the merger of white identity and property” (p. 1721) and the formation of whiteness as property required the erasure of Native peoples. Basically, white people want to stay being white because of the privilege and protection whiteness affords under the law that they created. Harris also makes this really good point, “whiteness and property share a common premise — a conceptual nucleus — of a right to exclude” (1714). Bam! That really hits it on the head.” Yes, that’s quite true, the right to exclude is indeed central to property, what is the solution to this non-problem? Getting rid of the concept of property? Further, what does slavery have to do with contemporary libraries? I would venture that the answer is: nothing. However, acknowledging that a connection between libraries and slavery is either tenuous or none existent would critically undermine the author’s ability to denigrate ‘white’ literature, which she clearly has a problem with. Imagine, for a moment, that I were to write a piece where I spoke in Leung’s terms about BET (Black Entertainment Television), which, unlike literary works at libraries, is explicitly racially conscious and exclusionary. If I were to say that BET is ‘too black’ the reception would be extremely predictable. There would be a social uproar. “How dare you say that!” Etc. Now, as a matter of fact, I don’t think BET is ‘too black’ and have absolutely no problem with Television channels which cater to only one racial group, or ethnic group or religious group or philosophical group, or any group specific media whatsoever. This despite the fact that BET certainly does ‘express their right to exclude (so presumably, Leung should take issue with them and other outlets like them, though that prospect strikes me as highly unlikely).

What the author seems to be calling for, in rather explicit terms, is racial quotas for literature, which would require the creation and instantiation of a racial hierarchy wherein european descended peoples (or those who look similar to them, such as some Hebrews and Persians) are relegated to the bottom rung, not because of the content or quality of their writing, but simply because their ancestors have been collectively prosperous. Such a system need not be created, as it already exists, and stands as the philosophical bedrock of critical race theory. Vexingly, such a literary caste system, one will notice, has nothing to do with artistic merit (either collectively nor individually), how particular works impact a audience is of little to no importance to the ‘critical race theorist,’ what IS of importance is ensuring that those writer’s who fall into phenotypic categories which they (the theorists) have designated as ‘problematic’ are undercut.

Leung further notes, “If you look at any United States library’s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things-,” Han Chinese, Japanese and Iranians also write about Han, Japanese and Iranian ideas, black Americans typically write about black ideas and black things, Hispanics, likewise. Why is this a problem? The United States is not just historically, but also currently, a majority ‘white’ nation, thus, one would expect, by the numbers alone, to see more books by ‘white’ Americans than by any other minority racial classifications. Such complaints about ‘representation’ in contemporary fiction, despite the fact that books and articles by people such as Ms. Leung are in no wise suppressed (indeed, they are championed at every turn), are the generative nexus for the kind of on-the-nose fictional revision which has so thoroughly degraded popular fiction (female characters assuming distinctly male characteristics, retrofitting a character’s race/sex, despite such a change making no narrative sense, so as to ostensibly make them more palatable to various minority groups (even though it often does not), sloganeering inserts to outright political propaganda (ie. CBS’ The Good Fight’s explicit call to political violence).

The decision postulated by the rise of critical race ‘theory’ (it is not, however a theory, but a hypothesis) is this: either literature (and thus a literary institution or culture) can be evaluated upon its own merits, or it can be evaluated by the group affiliation (real or imagined) of its author (which mandates disregarding the actual content of the work in so far as the group affiliation is not, itself, generative to the content under scrutiny).


 

Fiction Circular 8/31/18

FLASH FICTION

First up, Nell of The Library of Nell published a sequence of erotic microfictions entitled The Book of the Woodsman as well as the surreal, The Book of Morpheus. Decidedly evocative. Very interested to see her future works.

“We raised our faces at octagon windows of colour, through mirrors, upending to infinity.” — Book of Morpheus, Ely

The persistently consistent Dark Netizen published the mircofic, Buster about a dog figurine that is more than it seems.

Curious Forgotten Lore has published a plethora of fascinating little fictional tidbits, most notably: a continuation of his mythos of Clod, The God Of Clowns. Perchance, in time, he’ll be the new Slenderman; if that is to be the case I just hope SONY doesn’t try and make a movie out of it…


SHORT STORIES

Lucas Barstow has published Deep Vein Trombonist, which begins alluringly, “Deep underground where sunlight can’t be seen, the ore veins glisten in the light of a candle half burned out, dripping wax onto the floor.” Whilst the opening line is intensely atmosphere and the story is interesting, Mr. Barstow often violates the show-don’t-tell edict, describing in a rather flat and matter-of-fact way what is going on and why instead of painting a picture of the actual events in motion; but my, what an ending! Highly recommended.

Also read The Stain from the The Story Hive.

“I petted the fabric, fingers tracing the sewed areas, for the hundredths time, maybe for the hundred-thousandths time by now…

It had been vibrant and colorful, with the reds and blues and yellows thoughtfully arranged on twenty to thirty-five inches. Baby animals playing under the stars and the moon. Pink hearts lined beneath those little paws. My fingertips knew all the stitches.”

Sad, taunt, eerie and moving. Highly recommended reading and the best of the week.

Also from The Story Hive, The Greater Good Protocol.

Terror House Mag published Soul Box by James McHell, a supernatural drama concerning a man whose spirit has affixed itself inside his wife’s TV. Also from Terror House, Sugar-Plum Fearless by Soren James, a sad, creepy tale about a sad creepy man.

Jellyfish Review published Smolder by Hannah Harlow, which was quite good.


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

Little to report other than that I found a old Henning Mankell thriller in a shoebox. Was titled The White Tigress (Kurt Wallander Series #3). Reading through, very good book thus far.


Tune in next time for more.

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