1. One of the freshest lit blogs on the block is Reader's Quest. Despite Jerri's claim to be "absolutely underqualified to be blogging about short stories," I think she does a damned fine job of taking a Phillips-head screwdriver to literature, prying off the back of short stories, and describing what she finds in the inner cogs and pulleys. She has a very ambitious and calculated plan for her "year of reading and thinking about short stories." Bookmark and subscribe to the Quest today. That's a commandment.
2. After the demise of the dearly-departed Readerville, one of the best communities to rise out of its ashes has been Book Balloon. Discussion about books, writing and the arts in general is always lively, fun and stimulating. With my schedule the way it is these days, I don't drop in as often as I should; but when I do, I find the chatter is always smart and perky. Chief Balloonist Gary Glass recently wrote to me, saying they had a specific need at one of the forums. Here's what he said:
BookBalloon is looking for a short story discussion host. BookBalloon members love to talk about literature of all kinds, including short stories. If you'd enjoy leading insightful story discussions with thoughtful, well-read people, stop by the forum and check out our "Story of the Week" thread.(You may need to register as a forum user at Book Balloon--but it's free and totally worth it.)
3. I review Francine Witte's superb chapbook of flash fiction, Cold June, at the Emerging Writer's Network. The review begins thusly:
The best short-short stories are trash compactors. Short-shorts (aka flash fiction, micro-fiction, and postcard fiction) are repositories of all the scraps of life—the fruit peels, the hair clumps, the soup cans, the utility bills, the paper towels which soaked up that puddle of cat vomit you found with your bare feet on the kitchen floor at 2 a.m. Short-shorts squeeze and compress the whole beautiful trashy experience of life down to an unbelievably-small, impermeably-hard cube of matter which, if you could reconstitute it, would expand to the size of the average Dickens novel.Click HERE to read the full review.
In her award-winning chapbook from Ropewalk Press, Cold June, Francine Witte delivers stories the size of a breadbox, but you always walk away feeling like you’ve eaten an entire bakery. The book is 26 pages long and there are 23 stories. That should give you some idea of length. What it doesn’t indicate is the depth and breadth of the stories.
3a. If I didn't say it before, I'll say it now: I am absolutely in love with the cover of Cold June. The colors, the font, the whimsy of the over-scarfed kid--it all adds up to one of my favorite designs of this or any year. Frameable.
4. Matt Bell kindly allowed me to rant and rave about the pleasures of Joshua Foster's short story "Inside Out." I mentioned the story earlier in my discussion about Fugue magazine, but at Bell's blog, I stretched out a little bit more and got pretty particular with my lit-love:
If there's one lesson to be learned from Joshua Foster's short story "Inside Out" (published in Fugue, Winter-Spring 2010, Vol. 38), it's this: enlightenment can be found when you're shoulder-deep in a heifer's ass. You'd expect to find that sort of thing in a New West story by Annie Proulx or William Kittredge, but newcomer Foster boldly stakes his claim as a writer to watch in this gritty, moving coming-of-age story set in the ranchlands of eastern Idaho.Read the rest of the article HERE.
Foster moves from tension to tension, stringing conflict like barbed wire as 17-year-old narrator Jeremiah Foster (who, for what it's worth, also has a younger brother named Joshua) oversleeps on Sunday, decides to skip church, helps ranch-hand Jarrett Buckett with a troublesome heifer who won't go into the calving pen, and ends up turning the cow "inside out" in a brutal, bloody climax.
5. Earlier on his blog, Matt had some nice things to say about my short story, "The Things He Saw," which appeared in Connecticut Review last Fall.
6. And finally, if you aren't sick to death of my self-involved self-aggrandizing self-promotion, you can check out another of my short stories, "Joyride," which was recently published at The Center for Fiction's new web-magazine The Literarian.