Friday, May 8, 2015

Watchlist Countdown, Day 19: “Our New Neighborhood” by Lincoln Michel

      When the incidents start, my husband decides that what our neighborhood needs is a Neighborhood Watch. "We need to watch our streets as closely as we're gonna watch the twins," he says, tapping the baby monitor screen. The screen is dark and blue. It shows two pale teddy bears in an otherwise empty crib.
      The next morning, I come downstairs and see Donald slinking in the corner with a black trench coat and fedora.

          from “Our New Neighborhood” by Lincoln Michel

This story in the Watchlist anthology is an example of how to take a good idea too far. Lincoln Michel (editor of Electric Literature and author of the forthcoming Upright Beasts) has written a cautionary tale that seems to epitomize the collection as a whole, with that stark, all-seeing eye on the cover design. “Our New Neighborhood” starts with an amicable neighborhood improvement meeting in a place called Middle Pond (“located between West Pond on the east and East Pond on the west”) as residents get together to share their concerns about property values. Before long, however, paranoia and accusations run rampant and, the next thing you know, husbands are slipping through neatly-trimmed yards in trench coats and fedoras. Michel turns a scathing eye on the Neighborhood Watch program, skewering it with humor and suspense.

Watchlist: 32 Short Stories by Persons of Interest, edited by Bryan Hurt, will be published by O/R Books on May 21.  The “persons of interest” contributing short stories to the anthology include Etgar Keret, Robert Coover, Aimee Bender, Jim Shepard, Alissa Nutting, Charles Yu, Cory Doctorow, David Abrams, Randa Jarrar, Katherine Karlin, Miracle Jones, Mark Irwin, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Dale Peck, Bonnie Nadzam, Lucy Corin, Chika Unigwe, Paul Di Filippo, Lincoln Michel, Dana Johnson, Mark Chiusano, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Chanelle Benz, Sean Bernard, Kelly Luce, Zhang Ran, Miles Klee, Carmen Maria Machado, Steven Hayward, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Alexis Landau and Bryan Hurt.

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