A Mighty Nation

All we are and all we could be

Fiction Roundup

A curated selection of new, free short fiction for your reading pleasure as the snow piles up outside.

Growling by Rebekah MatthewsConsidering I’m now an uncle twice over as of last month (as well as having 15 aunts and uncles by blood alone) this story really captures the weirdly intimately distant (or maybe distantly intimate) relationship between a person to their sibling’s offspring – in this case, a woman to her brother’s Facebook obsessed twin daughters – and the bug-under-your-skin fear that someone who looks up to you will realize that you’re just as flawed as their parents. Maybe even more so. (Necessary Fiction)

Ape Breaks Down the Door by Gregg Williard –  A postmodern smash-and-grab of philosophy, pop culture, sex and violence. Maybe its a bit old hat for writers to explore the power of language, which is why its amazing how this story pulls it off – and ultimately derides it. The importance of distinction between clean and clean doesn’t count for much when a big angry ape is throttling you by the neck – and even writers would admit that’s life after all. (> kill author)

A Modest Book Proposal from Pete Maynard, Author of M__y Dick by Christian TeBordo  – I’ll admit I wasn’t really sold on the idea of an epistolary story centered largely around a dick joke (all irrelevant material in Moby Dick is blacked out, creating M__y Dick). But just when you think you’ve got the story pinned down it shifts gears in an unexpected – and funny – way. The humor in this story is a bit too writerly for my general taste, but the shamelessness of it managed to win me over. (The Collagist)

Geschichte by Corey Eastwood – Finally, a more tradition story in the Carver vein – a life and marriage falling apart and the quiet moments we find at the center of the storm. Nothing earth shaking or life changing, but a good quiet story. (Dark Sky Magazine)

 

That’s all for now! Check back, oh, next month probably. Happy reading.

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Slipstream Fiction

So I think about Slipstream fiction a lot. I write Slipstream and I read Slipstream. I’m even taking a class on it! The thing is, no one knows what the hell Slipstream is. Let’s see if we can figure it out together, hmm?

Ok, ok. Slipstream was termed in 1989 by Bruce Sterling. The heart of his definition is “a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility.” (full text) He also points out that the term is a deliberate play on the term “Mainstream”, which I now feel like an idiot for never noticing before.

But here we run into the main problem with Slipstream. “Writing that makes you feel strange” can mean almost anything to anyone. Hemingway can make me feel strange but I doubt that even the broadest interpretation of Slipstream would let Papa in the tent (well, maybe some, but not much).

Slipstream, most agree, questions reality, and it generally does this by juxtaposition of realistic and fantastical elements. But it’s not enough that Slipstream is a realistic world with fantastic elements. This seems to generally be what people mean when they talk about it. Kindred by Octavia Butler is grounded in a realistic world with a fantastical element (time travel), but the fantastical element is merely a tool. It is a plot device. In and of itself it questions nothing. What we learn from the story reinforces reality – whereas in Slipstream, we almost never learn anything, other than to question things we take for granted.

Let’s weld the two together. “Writing that makes you feel strange by questioning reality.” This seems to be pushing farther in the right direction. For now, we’ll leave it at that, but I’m sure we’ll come back to this topic in the future.

Obligatory Introduction

Welcome to my blog. I will post things that are of interest to me but probably no one else here. Those things will generally be about writing and literature, but may be about other things as well! Enjoy. Or don’t. It’s really all up to you.