Friday, January 29, 2010

A Way To Do Good

Hans and Edna are a hard-working married couple living in Haiti. Until recently, they had three children: Immacula (14), Clifford (16), and Alex (9).

After the earthquake struck Haiti, Edna was the first to reach the family home, around 9pm. The house had collapsed. She heard her children screaming for help. She couldn't move the huge concrete blocks that had fallen on them, though she tried with all her might. She stayed with them in the darkness, calling into the rubble, trying to comfort them with her voice.

Finally, her husband arrived, bringing help, and they were able to free Clifford, then Alex, whose legs had been crushed. Hans carried Alex through the streets, trying desperately to find medical help, but his youngest child died in his arms. By then, Immacula was also dead. Hans had to bury both children himself, lying them side by side in a shallow grave.

If you're anything like me, you can't read this story without crying. But I'm not telling you about this just to ruin your day. Roxane Gay, editor of PANK magazine, is directly involved with this family and is taking up a collection to help them try to rebuild their lives. You can donate through Paypal. Even $5 would help - Roxane says the American dollar goes a long way in Haiti.

You can read more about the family on Roxane's blog, here and here. She has posted some pictures of them. To donate, send money via Paypal to rgay74 at gmail dot com. Anything you can spare, anything at all. All contributions go directly to Hans and Edna.

Pass it on.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Shark Attack Can Teach Us About Love

This beautifully written story, by Caryn Cardello, is the author's first publication:

"The room is full of candles and the apartment is too small, making everything seem aglow and also slightly dangerous. We’re here for dinner and girl-talk in this empty desert town, all of us miles from home. The ex-Catholic from Louisiana makes gumbo at her graduate student stove while the atheist from Alabama talks to the Mormon about sex. Alabama married her high school sweetheart and—maybe it’s the accent—often sounds the most conservative among us, despite the fact that she isn’t, that none of us are, that she’s the only one brave enough to breathe the word “atheism” even after all these university degrees.."
read the rest at Spork Press

Last week, Necessary Fiction asked contributors to send in a few words about what inspired them to write in 2009. This is my contribution.

Also last week, Night Train accepted one of my short-shorts. I'm a huge fan of Night Train, so this is very exciting for me. Check out this amazing flash currently up on their site (by Laura Valeri):

"You were always too slow, your father used to say, too slow dodging the other girls' hands blocking your shots, slow to move out of the way, slow to catch up, slow to make the basket—just like when you were ten, at ski camp, he'd remind you, where you were sent in hopes you'd learn some self-preservation skills, hopes all but lost the day of the storm when the competition was canceled. . . ."
read the rest at Night Train

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Things I Know About Fairytales

The disaster in Haiti reminded me of this story that I first read quite a long time ago, before I started this blog. It's by Roxane Gay, the editor of PANK. Pank is currently donating all proceeds from subscriptions to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

Things I Know About Fairytales
"When I was very young, my mother told me that she didn’t believe in fairy tales. They were, she liked to say, lessons dressed in fancy clothes. She preferred to excise the princesses and villains and instead concerned herself with the moral of the story.

Once upon a time, not long ago, I was kidnapped and held captive for thirteen days. Shortly after I was freed, my mother told me there was nothing to be learned from what had happened to me. She told me to forget the entire incident because there was no moral to the story
read the rest

Here, also, is some interesting commentary on Haiti, from The Kenyon Review.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Jimmy Fishes For What Was His Mother

Here's a disturbing tale by J.A. Tyler, who has a very distinctive style. This story appears in Issue 37 of Storyglossia.

"I don't know what this is.

This is true.

Jimmy fished, his pole hung in the water, the tip making ripples. And yes, Jimmy caught a fish that was his mother. He brought it home, this fish that was his mother, and he wrapped it in bathtub water. And yes, the bathtub had claw feet, so it was very much like dropping a fish into the mouth of a hungry tiger. And in the middle of the night he heard his father screaming for something that was missing and sweat collected on the back of his head, wet as water, swimming. Jimmy dove in
read the rest

Also, despite the fact that this is a fiction blog, I have to include a link to this poem that blew me away. It's by Natalie Eilbert.

And here is a link to a very amusing confessional by Roxane Gay.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Black Oyster

My first story recommendation for 2010 is this gem by one of my favorite emerging writers, Murray Dunlap. I told Murray once that his prose sometimes makes me feel drunk and it's true - it's so evocative and has such perfect cadence that it sweeps you away. When it ends, you're left reeling for a moment, because it's hard to snap back out of his world and find your body still sitting where you left it.

The Black Oyster

"I step into the Black Oyster. Cigarette smoke hangs in the stale, bone dry air. Barstools creak beneath a handful of heavyset regulars. A blanket of dust covers the pool table and the jukebox sits unplugged. Photocopied pictures of missing children hang by thumbtacks on the wall next to the door. I read the names—Rhonda Spencer, Cindy Oates, Bart Wiseman, Holly Dorn—and my stomach turns. My leather shoes stick to the floor as I make for the bar. I wear a white oxford button-down and beige chino slacks. The regulars sit with raised elbows in T-shirts and studded leather. An old sign behind the bar reads: Great Service Deserves a Great Tip! "

read the rest

Read an interview with Murray Dunlap.

Then visit his website for links to more amazing stories.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Year's is my favorite holiday, though I no longer celebrate it by drinking vast amounts of alcohol and staying up past midnight. What I like about the beginning of the year is the chance to set new goals for myself. I'm a very goal-oriented and results-driven person, so New Year's Resolutions are right up my alley. Sometimes my resolutions are about bettering myself, but this time I have simply set myself two goals for 2010:

1. Finish my novel
2. Climb Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado (14,433ft). We will ascend via a 3,000ft snow couloir on the West Face.

Which of these two goals will be harder to achieve? Tough call.

Writing a novel is similar to climbing a mountain in many ways. There are (occasional) moments of bliss and moments of great suffering. You have to go into it knowing it will hurt. There will be times when you lose all hope and want nothing more than to just give up and admit defeat, and that is when you have to make your greatest effort and keep plodding on.

The nice thing about climbing a mountain is that once you've made it back to where you started, the journey is over. You can sit on the couch for a few days and eat as much pie as you want.

Finishing a novel, however, is just the beginning . . .