The Year at READ SHORT FICTION
It was quite an amazing ride over at Read Short Fiction this year—we became a professional-rate market (as of January 1, 2013), so our submission levels increased—and our selection process intensified. We are also thrilled to announce our first-ever Pushcart Prize nomination: “Everything, All at Once, Forever,” by Michael Wehunt.
What’s on tap for 2014? More great stories, of course—we’ve purchased a couple already, so stay tuned. In the meantime, we’re extremely proud of all eight of our 2013 selections—and they’re all available to you, free, over at Read Short Fiction. Enjoy!
“Guarding the Henhouse” by Mike Manolakes
This story, for us, is a rare find and a true gem. It’s perfect in terms of character/conflict/crisis/(lack of) change, everything comes around full circle, and the best part of all is the “surprise” is genuine. What’s mastered here, though, is the language: historically accurate, yet completely readable and absorbing. Best of all? It’s just one hell of a fun read.
Meikle, who has a penchant for crafting stories about monsters, has penned a gripping tale about a very different kind of monster: the kind that lurks behind the closed doors of our society. Familial abuse is an oft-explored subject in genre horror and too often it is exploited for shock value; here, it is sensitively etched and handled with the literary finesse such a subject deserves.
“Hassenlopf’s Stroke” by Gary Cuba
In the tradition of “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets,” the tension in this piece is absolutely painful, and the reader feels compassion for this character immediately. This also addresses an issue we don’t often see explored: age in the workplace. The conflict of hiring for youth or experience, in these recent troubled economic times, has been rearing its ugly head, and Cuba has given us insight in riveting, melancholy strokes. Applause.
“Everything, All at Once, Forever” by Michael Wehunt
I was so overwhelmed with grief while reading this piece that when I had finished, I could barely talk. I think Rob, in our meeting, put it best when he said he was “spellbound,” that the writer is “so in command of this mindset,” and that he was “emotionally drained after reading it.” This story plumbs the terrible depths of loss in a way that few stories, for me, have; in my opinion, this is literary horror at its finest. As mentioned above, this story was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, so do not miss this one.
“The Diver” by Colleen Anderson
“The Diver” is beautifully written: we love the characterization, the realistic movements and dialogue, the fine motiving and the eloquent descriptions; it’s quite clear that Anderson is a poet by trade. What’s more, she profoundly captures the emotional reaction one might have to witnessing something shocking–and how it almost always, ultimately, leads to a fresh perspective on our own existences.
“Other Summers” by Ray Cluley and Michael Kelly
Rob noted in his acceptance letter for this story that this “wonderful, haunting tale that could be set in just about any small town in America now that teens in car crashes have become what feels like annual occurrences in every community…we loved the imagery and tone and the well-selected character choices.” Thanks to the dexterous use of the echo, we can almost hear the strains of a distant carnival; the repeated words, like the tolling of bells, inspire us to mourn our lost innocence. This story has a voyeuristic feel—almost as though we, as readers, are getting a glimpse of something now elusive to many of us: the eternal and cock-sure freedom of youth.
Co-editor Rob summed up this piece best when he wrote: “This story is horror at its most gripping: it is a tight, tension-filled, eloquently-written ride. We very much enjoyed the internal allusion to the famous story of Cain and Abel, which gives us a richness we don’t see in many horror pieces. Also, we had believed horror stories involving werewolves and/or creepy kids were impossible to do nowadays and still be fresh (much less blow us away)…this story proved us wrong. In addition, good story, no matter its genre. Makes a strong comment on the human condition, and “Eudon” does this.” Well said, Rob.
“Dark Refrain” by Alexis A. Hunter
This disturbing little piece so wonderfully reminiscent of Gina Ochsner’s “How the Dead Live” uses sparing language to convey the base connection between death and what comes after: while we struggle to move on with our earthly lives, is it the dead who are the ones who need to let go? I also loved the subtle tension: I was sensing a threat from her brother, but I wasn’t sure if it was in my own head or not—and that made the piece impossible to put down. A fine, refreshing ghost story.
Posted on January 7, 2014, in Read Short Fiction, Short Stories and tagged Alexis A. Hunter, Colleen Anderson, Gary Cuba, Michael Kelly, Michael Wehunt, Mike Manolakes, pro-rate fiction magazines, Ray Cluley, Read Short Fiction, Sean Eads, short stories free online, William Meikle. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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