Author Archive

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Interiors” by Andrea Maturana

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Boredom could be defined as a lack of interest in the surrounding world, and as such, not a particularly fun state of mind to be in, nor a compelling trait for a protagonist of a short story. But Andrea Maturana’s short story “Interiors,” (A Public Space 22, translated from

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Radical” by Brock Clarke

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the risky ending of Mary Helen Specht’s “Night Island,” and how her switching perspectives at the end turned a potentially good story into a great one. In “The Radical” (The Cincinnati Review 11.2), author Brock Clarke also take his story to another

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “All Lateral” by Matt Sumell

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When we speak of a story as “voice-driven,” that typically means it’s written in first person and that the narrator has attitude. Instead of quietly striving towards general objectivity, the narrator—à la Holden Caulfield—gives us a unique angle on the world that keeps our eyes fixed to the page.

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Edna in Rain” by Marie-Helene Bertino

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Marie-Helene Bertino, in her short story, “Edna in Rain,” (Gulf Coast Winter/Spring 2015), goes to great lengths to make every aspect of her fictional world ordinary, in order that it might more clearly illuminate the absurdities of our own contemporary world. And making her fictional world ordinary is no

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “This Place of Great Peril” by Mel Bosworth

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When we meet the main character of Mel Bosworth’s “This Place of Great Peril” (Hayden’s Ferry Review Fall/Winter 2014), he’s just beginning to suffer from acute oxygen deprivation, or as editor Dana Diehl puts it, the author “drops us on top of the 84th tallest mountain in the world,

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Ritualist” by Anne-Marie Kinney

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A few weeks back I wrote a column about “Optimism” by Angie Kim. In her story, the main character suffers a recent traumatic event, and in her grief, produces a ritual around it. Anne-Marie Kinney’s wonderful story “The Ritualist” (Alaska Quarterly Review, Fall/Winter 2014) explores the nature of rituals

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “We Knew Horses” by James Miranda

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We often call a story vivid because of its language and sensory details, whether they be in the tradition of writers like Faulkner (ornate) or Hemingway (spare). James Miranda’s story, “We Knew Horses,” in this fall’s Cimarron Review (Issue 158) does a masterful job using language and details of

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Night Island” by Mary Helen Specht

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I’m a believer that some story shapes lend themselves more readily to pieces of different lengths. The shape of Mary Helen Specht’s story, “Night Island” (Prairie Schooner, Winter 2014), is risky and surprising, and might not work as well in a longer story or novel. But it’s what allows

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Taxonomy” by Alix Ohlin

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The opening sections of Alix Ohlin’s wonderful short story “Taxonomy,” (TriQuarterly 146) shows how a simple plot can open into a compelling mystery through just a few quick descriptions. In the first scene, the narrator Ed stops at a roadside Amish gift shop to try to find an appropriate

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Optimism” by Angie Kim

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In Richard Bausch’s classic short story, “What Feels Like the World,” the looming grief over a mother’s death is conveyed through an impending vault at an elementary school gymnastics demonstration. In Amy Hempel’s classic, “When It’s Human Instead of When It’s Dog,” the tragic death of a spouse is