short story Archive

Writing is Not Like…

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For the past year or so, I’ve contemplated the ways that writing is like many other everyday tasks we undertake. In that time, I’ve reached for some unlikely comparisons. (See baseball, cooking, going on vacation.) As the year comes to a close, I’d like to reverse course and think

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Dream Scenes” by Renée K. Nicholson

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When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a dancer. Instead, I played softball and soccer—but that fascination with dance never really went away. So last week, when I found “Dream Scene” by Renée K. Nicholson in Issue 5 of Banago Street, my inner-ten-year-old was immediately hooked. “Dream

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Man Who Couldn’t Give It Away” by Scott Bradfield

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When I used to teach intro fiction classes, I noticed that students often turned in stories that featured omniscient third-person narrators, and I can remember doing this when I started writing fiction, too. There’s something very alluring, especially when you first start writing, about being able to access the

Writing is Like Making Snowballs

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It snowed today. It was supposed to snow, but only for a minute, and it was not supposed to stick.  Instead it snowed all day and as the sun went down at 4:30 (alas) the snow was still there on the lawn.  And while part of me is so

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Spider Legs” by Danielle Lazarin

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Sometimes a story seems to find you at the right moment. Last week I was talking to a friend about our preferences in fiction. After writing this column for most of a year, I’m beginning to get a pretty solid grasp on what kind of stories I tend to

Revising Like Alice(s)

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There has been a flurry of praise for Alices lately—Munro for her much-deserved Nobel, McDermott for her highly-praised new novel Someone—and it has me thinking about why these two authors are having a cultural moment. They write about women, often small domestic lives, the kind of characters and plots

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Entity” by Mira Mattar

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If I think back to the best people I’ve known—those who were my favorites, who were most alluring, engaging, and alive, the personalities that took up space in the world—there’s not necessarily a common thread between all of them. That’s not all that surprising. Humans take different shapes. What

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Other Kind of Magic” by Juliet Escoria

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Have I written about longing here yet? (I’m sure I have.) Every story is supposed to be stuffed to the gills with an aching desire, something pulling a character through the narrative whether they want it to or not. In a good story, longing is a taut tether that

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Letters Between Tortoise and Hare” by Brandi Wells

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I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, chaffing against my nine to five office job, weary of the routine and cadence of every week and weekend. It’s spring in New York, which doesn’t help, since all anyone wants to do is go sit in the sun somewhere

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Lost Caves of St. Louis” by Anne Valente

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I’m not sure about anyone else, but I can remember feeling stuck as a kid. I was an impatient child (and now I’m an impatient adult). A summer then felt like an entire year. A two-hour trip to the store with my parents seemed to occupy an entire interminable