This time: 12 short stories, 11 free-verse poems, five non-fiction pieces (one interview, one piece of criticism, and three pieces of creative non-fiction), and a short two-act play. I didn’t read the criticism (“Bringing Experimental Text to the Mainstream: Kirsten Krauth’s just_a_girl” by Julie Proudfoot) because I’d like to read the book to which it responds and do so without knowing somebody else’s thoughts on it first.
I really enjoyed five stories this time, three of which have something in common that it would be a spoiler to reveal, so: (view spoiler)[What do “Crazy Town is a Happy Place” by Deborah Sheldon, “Red Flowers of the Exodus” by Amy Ward-Smith, and “Knock Knock” by Edoardo Albert all have in common? They’re all examples of “old-school” short stories that present a complete narrative and all of them have twist endings. In fact, “Crazy Town is a Happy Place” and “Knock Knock” have essentially the same twist ending: a fundamental shift in perspective that suddenly yanks away the reader’s (misdirected) assumptions about the central character in the story. I saw the twist coming in “Crazy Town is a Happy Place” but “Knock Knock” took me entirely by surprise. But even in the former case, correctly guessing where the story was going did not interfere with my enjoyment at all. Aside from being an example of the kind of short story I like best, I also think that “Knock Knock” is a superbly well executed piece of suspense writing—-I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next! The twist in “Red Flowers of the Exodus” is less pronounced, at least for regular readers of spec-fic, but was still vivid and, to me, very welcome. An additional feature I liked here was the vividness of the Cambodian jungle setting with all the oppressiveness of the physical and political climate.(hide spoiler)]
eBook Tincture Journal, Issue Eight, Summer 2014