Posted in Short Story Reviews, tagged Fence, fiction, Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, One Story, Ploughshares, publishing, reading, Segue, short story, The Review Review, writing on March 25, 2012 |
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Last week, Lauren Rheaume, director of marketing and outreach at The Review Review, sent me an email letting me know that my story “Black String Bikini” had been mentioned in a review:
As another example, many sections of Mark Richardson’s short story, “Black String Bikini” are written as flash-forwards, insights into things that will happen, that change the perception of what is happening, if not for the characters, at least for the reader.
The mention was short, but sweet for me, and although I was happy to see it, I was even happier to learn about The Review Review. The online publication has articles and reviews of literary journals. Becky Tuch (pic), the founding editor, writes that she created The Review Review as “merely a way to guide writers toward the journals that most interest them.”
A few years ago, when I started sending stories to literary journals, I decided that I would become more familiar with them. I’ve since subscribed to a number of journals, including One Story, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, and Fence. I ‘ve really enjoyed them, and plan to subscribe to more. Hopefully, the suggestions I’ll get from Tuch’s magazine will help guide me toward interesting reads.
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Posted in Short Story Reviews, tagged Book Review, fiction, Jim Shepard, Magical Realism, New Yorker, One Story, Ploughshares, publishing, reading, short story, Transgressive Fiction, writing on October 24, 2010 |
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A couple of years ago I decided to subscribe to one new literary journal a year. I’ve been reading The New Yorker and it’s short stories for a long time now, but I wanted to see what else is out there.
In 2009, my publication of choice was One Story. It gets its name because they send you one new short story a month. They’ll only ever publish one story per author, so they are committed to uncovering new talent. The stories are consistently good, although I’ve found that I actually prefer to get a book of stories all at once, instead of one at a time. But it is an interesting approach.
This year I’ve been getting Ploughshares. I really, really like it. They publish three issues a year, and each issue has a guest editor. The guest editors “are invited to solicit up to half of their issues, with the other half selected from unsolicited manuscripts screened for them by staff editors.” This guest editor approach is cool, because it gives each issue its own theme or style.
Jim Shepard edited the Fall 2010 issue. I’m sorry to say that I had never heard of Shepard, but I love the stories in his issue. The one’s I’ve read so far (I’m about halfway done) are offbeat. I suppose you could classify at least some of them a “magical realism.” They are all very interesting and extremely well written. It sounds like Shepard’s work can also be offbeat. In the Q&A with Shepard, he is quoted as saying:
In grad school my thesis adviser, John Hawkes, spent a good deal of time nudging me away from the niche in which I seemed to be most comfortable – wry suburban comedy, featuring wry suburban children – and toward the weird. It was by far the most valuable instinct he has helped me realize: that instinct to ferret out and further distress the unexpected strangeness wherever it surface in my work. He meant mostly those bizarre and unexpected psychological states, or insights that might pop up in the middle of an otherwise naturalistic story, but was perfectly happy to have me take it further, too, into narrative realms.
I think the quote helps give a sense of the types of stories included in this issue. If you like your fiction a little funky, then I definitely suggest you buy the Fall 2010 Ploughshares.
My subscription to Ploughshares is about to expire, and next year I’m going to try The Kenyon Review.
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I really enjoyed this story. It’s about a woman, Sally, who’s a cancer survivor. She joins a Breast Cancer Survivor team that is climbing Mt. Everest. If you can beat cancer you can do anything, right? Even climb the world’s tallest mountain!
The story kicks off as Sally is close to the summit, but struggling to push upward. The group’s climbing guide, Ellikka, urges Sally to get going! The story alternates between Sally’s struggles on the mountain, her remembrances of having cancer, and how the disease affected her relationships with her sister, students (she’s a teacher), and ex-husband.
Sounds grim. No! I found the story hilarious!
We’re also told that the story is published posthumously; the author, Sheila Schwartz, recently died of cancer after years of fighting the disease.
You can read an interview with her husband on the One Story website.
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If you want to publish short stories you need to read literary magazines. So says this blog posting. The writer makes some great points. And I love the contrast between aspiring writers and aspiring rock stars.
For the past few years I’ve subscribed to One Story. I wanted to read newly published fiction that isn’t in The New Yorker. I’ve really enjoyed the magazine, but plan to let my subscription lapse and sign-up for Ploughshares. I just want to try something different.
Last year, while leafing through an issue of Ploughshares in my local library, I stumbled upon a story that really blew me away. It was called “Only Child” by Alix Ohlin. That story spurred me on to find other Ohlin stories (in Five Points, One Story), to read a good part of her short story collection (I plan to read it all), and to read her novel, The Missing Person, which I enjoyed.
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I decided to shake things up and not read last week’s New Yorker short story. Instead, I read the most recent offering from One Story – a story by Robert McCarthy called “Stag.”
I’ve been a One Story subscriber for a couple of years now. I like the concept: each month they send me one story in an easy-to-carry little booklet.
I’ve had mixed feelings about the stories, but mostly I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. They tend to be less experimental – less odd in their structure – then a lot of the New Yorker stories. Some of the subject matter is off-beat (those are actually the ones I tend to like), but they’re told in a good old-fashion story telling way. Some of my favorites are “Hurt People,” “The Tennis Player,” “Sir Fleeting,” “Harriet Elliot,” “We Bluegills,” and “Safe Passage.”
Unfortunately, “Stag” didn’t blow me away. That may be because of the blue-collar nature of the story. I’m not really a blue-collar fiction aficionado (expect, of course, for Raymond Carver).
I also found the whole scene with the deer strange. If a deer breaks into your home and you successful escape the room with the deer, why would you go back in? And, would you really wrestle the deer to the ground and break its neck? Me: I’d be calling someone on the phone.
But what do I know? The author says he based the deer episode on something he read in a newspaper. And that brings me to one of my favorite parts of One Story – the online author Q&A. So if you want to read what the author has to say about his piece, go here.
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