short stories Archive

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

Review: BRIGHT SHARDS OF SOMEPLACE ELSE by Monica McFawn

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Bright Shards of Someplace Else Monica McFawn University of Georgia Press, September 2014 176 pages $24.95 Buy: book Every writer has faced the age-old question, “What makes a story?” History has provided us with plenty of satisfactory answers—in the excitement found in novelty or the resonance found in the

The Ploughshares Round Down: Short Stories as a Path to Literary Success

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the submissions in my slush pile. When one comes in, the first thing I do–before I have even read the first sentence of the letter–is skim it for the name of a publication I recognize. If I don’t

Welcome to the Literary Jungle

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Several times a year I am the recipient of emails or phone calls from friends, colleagues, parents, or complete strangers in search of writing guidance. Often the messages begins, “Hello, my name is Barbra. My daughter wants to be a writer. She’s very talented. Jill Matthews said you might

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Birthright” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

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I believed in ghosts as a kid. Since then, I’ve wondered why I wasn’t ever fascinated by the lore of other supernatural creatures. I think it’s in large part because ghosts—unlike angels, demons, vampires, or werewolves—didn’t seem to have such a strict set of rules governing their existence. In

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Not Like What You Said” by Debbie Urbanski

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The older I get, the more I notice that my handwriting resembles my mother’s. Her cursive is so even, consistent, and precise that her letters and grocery lists look like they’ve been typed up on the computer and printed out. My handwriting isn’t like that—it’s sloppy and irregular—but when

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “My Wife, in Converse” by Shelly Oria

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Stories written in the first person are supposed to be more intimate and allow us greater access to the emotions and thoughts of the narrator than second or third person. But what about the characters who aren’t eager or able to articulate their feelings? What happens when we give

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle

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There’s a lot to love about Katie Coyle‘s story “Fear Itself,” published in the most recent issue of One Story. To start, Coyle is so spot-on in her depiction of teenage girls that about a page in, I took out my phone and snapped a quick picture of a

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Prayer for the moth, but also for the spider” by Caitlin Horrocks

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I can’t tell you the last time I prayed. At least, not in the way that the narrator does in Caitlin Horrocks‘ recent story, “Prayer for the moth, but also for the spider,” in issue 21 of Memorious. I spent twelve years in Catholic school, so I can recite a mean

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

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I don’t often love stories told from the perspective of kids. I think it’s difficult to write a child that feels believable—or interesting, to be honest. For me, stories with a child or teenage narrator too often devolve into the overly cute. The narrator is too precious. The character’s