Author Archive

The Facts of Life: Poems and Real Deaths

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Lately, I keep running across poems in collections and in literary journals that use facts or trivia as part of, and sometimes the heart of, their piece. What place does the language of fact, of historical tidbits and pop culture trivia have within the language of poetry?

Wishes Gone Wrong: A Woman’s “Place” in Fairy Tales

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“I wish” is a foolish phrase in fairy tales. It even has its own Aarne-Thompson tale type (750A), aptly called “Foolish Wishes.” It’s easy to see why wishing pops up in stories (and movies and television), but why are wishes so often foolish?

Tiny Stories: On Flash Fiction and Vignettes

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Flash fiction is normally defined as anywhere from five hundred to one thousand words. Within that relatively small range of words lies a huge gamut of what a flash fiction piece can entail. But is it possible for a writer to convey an entire story arc?

Women Who Open Doors: Bluebeard and Horror

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Women in stories often get punished. In fairy tales, it’s often for greed or pettiness or vanity or a slew of other reasons. But the heroines of fairy tales also get punished.

Monsters and Men: Empathy in Victor LaValle’s Ballad of Black Tom

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What forces turn someone who is, for the most part, fundamentally good into something possibly evil? This question lies at the heart of much horror. In his novella The Ballad of Black Tom, reimagining characters from the weird fiction universe of HP Lovecraft, Victor LaValle answers that question.

What’s Left?: Poetry after disaster

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What do we do after something terrible happens? Is there any way to find hope in a world gone dark?

Seven spooky stories to try before bedtime

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What scares you? is a personal question, I’ve always thought. Fear is a universal emotion, a rhetorical choice in arguments that we can all connect to, and we all find connections to the fears that most everyone shares: isolation, the unknown, death. However, it is also extremely individual.

Night Radio, Collect: Listening to Ray Bradbury

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In the dark, being told stories carries weight. There’s a power there, for some stories, that doesn’t seem to exist during the day. When I was a child, my family would take daytrips in the car and when we drove home it would be night. My mom would turn

A True Fable

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“The orders were given from Stalin’s country house at Kunstevo” begins Nathan’s Englander’s perfect short story “The Twenty-seventh Man.” In it, Englander uses a combination of the horror of history and the beauty of fable to tell a story about the power of story itself.

Objects in Mirror: Emotional Distance in Writing

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"You pass through a world so thick with phantoms there is hardly room for anything else" reads a line in Steven Millhauser's short story "Phantoms." The story uses a communal voice and direct statements to the reader to engage us with its ideas.