08.07.08

Story of the Month – “Edges”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 11:53 pm by Amber

I read this story in June but lately the memory of it keeps returning.  It’s likely due to a combination of the creepiness of the story, Marge Simon’s artwork, and Guy Maddin.  What does Guy Maddin have to do with it?  The last decade or so when I see images of Canadian hockey players I think of Maddin’s movies… and I’m going to see one of his movies this month.  I don’t think Kirchmeier even indicates the hockey players or the team in his story are Canadian; it’s just this reader’s interpretation.

The magical device or object that keeps someone in at their prime is not a new literary device.  However, I don’t recall an object quite like the one featured in Kurt Kirchmeier’s story.  The object usually has an unpleasant or unforeseen consequence and “Edges” has both.  Kirchmeier doesn’t waste words describing the history of how the object came to be used or how long it had been in use.  The reader’s imagination determines how long the edge has been used by the team. 

Marge Simon’s drawn interpretation of the object is simple yet effective.  The mind’s eye fills in the details of the wings.

Be sure to check out “Edges” when you get a chance.  It was published in the June issue of Niteblade which you can read online with advertisements or purchase a .pdf version with no ads.  I regularly have book reviews published in Niteblade.  Other than consistently choosing wonderful stories, Rhonda had no influence over me picking a story from Niteblade for me to feature this month.  🙂

07.07.08

Story of the Month – “Say It With Flowers”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 11:24 pm by Amber

This month’s short story is another selection from Every Day Fiction“Say It With Flowers” by Tels Merrick appeared in the June issue. 

It’s not easy picking a new story each month because it can be difficult to define what makes a story stick in my head weeks after reading it.  For this story, it’s because Merrick captured relationship dynamics between a couple that made it stay with me. 

The misunderstandings I experience with my husband come from different expectations in a specific situation or incomplete communication in a thought process.  Thus, I could relate to Elspeth’s anchorless feeling while Jared worked in the garden instead of spending time with her. 

I also liked it that I expected the story to give a little twist and it didn’t do it in the ways I expected.  With near certainty, I thought Elspeth would find the Christmas gift after Jared passed away.  But she found something else and he didn’t die!

Merrick’s publishing credits seem small right now but I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s publishing with more frequency.  We are members of the same online writing community.  She brought my attention to her story by announcing the good news of her publication.  I think I would have found it on my own because it’s so good.

06.07.08

Story of the Month – “Dead Dog Rising”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 8:30 pm by Amber

The short story for this month is “Dead Dog Rising” by Kate Hill Cantrill.  It was most recently published in Issue 20 of SmokeLong Quarterly.

First, I’m a sucker for dogs.  While I know they are animals I accept that they have feelings, needs and thoughts like humans.  Sometimes these can be articulated with a behavior, a facial expression or a noise and sometimes there is no hope of effective communication between a person and a dog.  The title is what caught my attention. 

Second, I can identify with different elements of the story.  When you live with a person or animal you get to learn their noise patterns to know where they are and what they might be doing.  Sammy’s nails make a click clack sound on the hardwood floors but louder when his nails are long.  It’s one way of knowing when he needs his nails trimmed; and I can tell by the sound if he’s gone table surfing in the dining room.  Like the father in the story, I do not function well when I’ve not had enough sleep.  I become irritable and act irrational at any unexpected sound.  Uninterrupted sleep is the only cure.

Using the five senses is one way to make writing come alive.  I think sight and touch are the two senses most used in stories.  “Dead Dog Rising” has a lot of sound words to make it unique. 

If you’ve read this far and haven’t read “Dead Dog Rising” yet then go do it.  The ending seems very natural and I found it to be a wonderful summary of the relationship between the dog and the father.

05.06.08

Story of the Month – “The Weald Maiden’s Will”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 7:42 pm by Amber

The short story I’d like to highlight this month is “The Weald Maiden’s Will” by Nicholas Ian Hawkins.  It is published in the March edition of Every Day Fiction.  Feel free to rate the story or any other story on the site.  If you really enjoy the site, don’t be shy about making a donation to help cover their costs.

The first sentence of “The Weald Maiden’s Will” meanders but tells you where the main character is and what he does.  It fits the tone of the story.  The indirectness of Hawkins’ writing mirrors the fuzziness provided by  the distant memories of the main character.  For me, the ending was a surprise even though hints had been dropped.

What I found most pleasing is what Hawkins’ managed to do with the story.  Some writers can do a lot or a little with 1000 words.  He managed to transport me to a different time, place and way of life.

04.07.08

Story of the Month – “Nanny”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 6:41 pm by Amber

I’ve decided to do a new feature by the 7th of each new month.  As you can guess, I highlight a short story that makes an impression on me.  The story may not have been published in that particular month or the previous month – the only qualification is that I read the story after the previous Story of the Month.

The first short story I’d like to highlight is “Nanny” by Jane Chirgwin.  It was published in Volume 10 Issue 1 of The First Line.  You can purchase the individual issue for $3.50 or get a year’s subscription for $12.  (Sorry – there doesn’t seem to be any excerpts posted anywhere for you to read it online.)  The thing I love about The First Line is that all of the stories begin the same but they usually go in completely different directions after that.

“Nanny” is about a robot programmed to function as a nanny but who is so much more than that word or function.  The label is limiting but the robot’s programming allows her to be adaptable to her environment.  Nanny’s programming tells her to correct grammar but the status or situation may make her think better of it.

While most of the adults at the mine are busy with their jobs, Nanny and three adults supervise twenty-three children in a playroom.  Activities are age appropriate; for example, older kids learn about science while younger kids learn their colors.  The details Chirgwin provides makes life at the mine seem like it is the near future.

As with many good stories or tales, an outside force sets events in motion that could result in change or growth for the main character.  In imaginative ways Chirgwin takes the ordinary and turns it around.  Ultimately it’s the humanity in Nanny that made the story special to me.

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