Favorite Fiction, 3rd Quarter

It’s October! Time for leaf-raking, cardigan-wearing, hay-riding (is that still a thing?), costume-shopping, and reveling in glorious, crisp, cool autumn days!

Hello, Mamma Nature, southeast Louisiana didn’t get the memo. We seem to be stuck in hot and humid so I only venture outside to water my poor straggling plants. Only the succulents are happy ^^^. On the good side, I’m reading some great books and online stories and I’m so thankful we have writers willing to share their work with us.

On that note, here’s my list of fabulous fiction for the past quarter. I hope you enjoy!


After the Wal-mart Closes in Your Hometown by Meg Pillow Davis in Pithead Chapel.

Meg Pillow is a goddess of the detail. In this very creative flash fiction she brings together shadowy details most shoppers would never notice and imbues them with intimacy and meaning.

“The purging wash of water will run across the concrete surface and through the aisles like tears. The vines and limbs will break them apart and gather them up the way you do the body of a person who is nearly dead, the way you do the body of a person whose final breath you need to feel against your cheek and not just listen to from across the room, and they will hold them for a while.”

Corvids and Their Allies by Amy Stuber in TriQuarterly.

How often do you sit in wonder after reading a story? I don’t remember, but my mouth might have been open in amazement at the wonderfulness of this story by the time I finished it.

“The last day is the last day they planned, to the letter. Foxglove and nightshade and oleander. The redwoods have a sheen of mist outside the fogged-over window of the communal kitchen. The plants root into each other underground in their secretive commensalist parley. She thinks she can hear it: their grasping, their bending. The people are all around the table. They have committed to talking little and if possible not at all. There is the human noise of drinking, of the bodies.”

We Can’t be Good at Everything by Emma Sloley in Catapult.

If you like stories about complicated family dynamics, this one’s for you. Emma does a stellar job navigating through perception and disputed reality in this little gem.

“Miles finds it typical that the thing he’s craved for the last five years—for her to admit she hadn’t been a good mother—is, having arrived, distinctly absent the sense of triumph he might have expected.”

Rooms by Abby Minor in Contrary Magazine.

This story was published in 2017 and subsequently became a 2018 Best of the Net winner. I only just discovered it. Its heartbreakingly sad and beautiful- a story embedded in the DNA of womankind. The intimacy of the prose is what writers aspire to achieve. I can’t say enough good things about this story.

“In a very small way, in a way that was certainly swallowed by history and the heat of July, I tried once to refuse to abide by that law and its precarious contradictions. I tried to live as a woman neither evil nor fecund. “It is to marginal and secret stories that we have to look,” writes social historian Carolyn Steedman, “for any disturbance of the huge and bland assumption that the wish for a child largely structures femininity.” 

Anything but the Sky and To Float and not Fall by Cathy Ulrich in Sundog Lit.

I love Cathy’s astronaut stories so much and squeal (in my head) when a new one comes out. This time there were two! Cathy spins magical tales and, often, what is unsaid between the lines is a part of the genius of Cathy’s writing.

“The astronaut and her wife went to the beach, left the blue sneakers in the car, left the astronaut’s wife’s sandals too, went barefoot into the sand like children. The astronaut was singing about werewolves and London; the astronaut was thinking of the roll of the waves, the closeness of the moon.

Jan Brady by Jan Stinchcomb in New Flash Fiction.

What’s more fun to read than a clever story about a favorite TV sitcom from the 70’s?

“These are his boys. Of all the smells they left behind, it is AstroTurf on old Keds that pleases Tiger the most. The girls’ room forever exudes a trace of strawberry Lip Smacker, Jergens lotion and Love’s Baby Soft perfume.”