Posts Tagged: fiction
Lately, my Christmas list consists of a series of subscriptions to lit journals, and this year I was lucky enough to get One Story—and even luckier that the first booklet that landed in my mailbox was Laura Spence-Ash’s “The Remains.” Spence-Ash tells the story of Mrs. Constantine in five distinct sections, from five points-of-view, none of them Mrs. Constantine’s. We meet the main character, in fact, by meeting her corpse, which has been decaying in her half of a Queens duplex for months. One of the remarkable and memorable components of this piece is the care and attention Spence-Ash brings to her choice of characters who fill out the—well, the remains—of Mrs. Constantine.
The cast includes a spectrum of familiarity to the woman, and in that way, a spectrum of peculiarity when we remember that Mrs. Constantine’s remains have gone unnoticed for nearly a year. The police sergeant who discovers her and the reluctant seamstress who used to do her alterations could hardly be blamed for not realizing the woman hasn’t been around in some time. But when Spence-Ash introduces Mrs. Constantine’s next door neighbor, a young mother who admits to herself that she smelled something strange earlier in the year, I began to question my own passivity and the ease with which we can explain away truths that are uncomfortable. Spence-Ash raises the stakes with Bob MacMillan, Mrs. Constantine’s old boss, who called the police when she stopped showing up to work, but has quietly resigned to her absence. In a heartbreaking final section, we meet Mrs. Constantine’s ex-husband, a man who has moved on where the dead woman could not.
“The Remains” captures brief moments and realizations that each of these characters go through, pulling together deft outlines of what the lonely death means for them all, while also constructing a subtle portrait of the deceased. Perhaps my favorite part of this story, however—which I first read in January and think about and re-read regularly—is the little note in Ms. Spence-Ash’s bio which informs us that “this is her first published story.”
Call for Indiana Review’s Special Themed Folio: MIDDLE SPACE
Bending the rules of craft is not a new thing. Bold steps and subtle transformations are how we move forward in literature, in society, and in ourselves. For a special folio in our Summer 2014 issue, we’re seeking work—in both form and content—that blurs genres and breaks down preconceptions, narratives of transgression that make us question our boundaries of what a literary work is and can do.
Keywords to consider and inspire: boundaries, borders, limits, edges, duality, on the verge, transformation, transgression, travel, movement, bodies, collapse, collage, correspondence, collaboration, middle space.
Click through for guidelines and deadlines!
As we enter the final weeks of the 2013 Fiction Contest, many writers are faced with the question: What does it take to win?
Because submitting work can feel a bit like fishing in the dark with your firstborn child as bait, we asked last year’s winner, CB Anderson, to say a few words about her creative process and to share a few strategies for success in short fiction.
Anderson’s prize-winning story “Mavak Tov” will soon be published in her collection River Talk. The book contains 17 stories — a combination of short and short-short fiction forthcoming from C&R Press in 2014 . Be sure to check it out!
In response to “Mavak Tov,” last year’s judge Dana Johnson writes:
This story haunted me. The main character’s longing and desire for comfort, for a place to be, is so powerful and recognizable, as is the conflict and question this story poses, not just for the main character but for all of us: At what price do we achieve comfort? At what point do we reject what is easy and familiar for something far more necessary, which is true agency and power? This essential question is explored through a beautifully rendered relationship between a mother and her daughter and between the wives of one polygamist man, in gorgeous, unflinching detail. Read more…
Each year Indiana Review receives thousands of story submissions, including hundreds to our annual fiction prize (now open!). And while there is a range of quality, what surprises me most is the high volume of finely crafted prose. To me, this is evidence of hard work. It is proof that writers are rolling up their sleeves, reading great writing, studying craft, and putting ink to the page. In this field of highly competent entries, what differentiates the stories that make it from submission to publication?
In “Three Stories Unlikely to Make it Beyond the Slush,” former Indiana Review Fiction Editor Joe Hiland outlines several attributes that earn stories easy rejections, and he goes on to offer three “types” of stories that often feel too familiar to transcend the slush pile. In “What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines” from the The Review Review, Lynne Barrett provides an insider breakdown for anyone interested in submitting to literary journals. Yet even though both articles should be considered essential reading for any fiction writer submitting to Indiana Review, they do little to address what makes a story stand out.
Read more after the jump!