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Show Her a Flower, A Bird A ShadowPetal, Feather, Particle

Show her a flower, a bird, a shadow, and she will show you what is simultaneously forming and falling apart. What is both witness and sign along the way on this rough earth, a shell already cracked. She’d thought she could raise a child with only minimal intercession but now, as she was being driven to the hotel, found herself looking up at the ceiling of the car, mumbling a quiet prayer. Her daughter was like her: too quick to do everything.

The girl’s father had been someone she once knew, or thought she had, a man who laid her in repose on the bed and gave her waist a tender squeeze before arranging her hands on top her, placing the right over the left, palm over knuckles. He studied her in that corpse-like pose, letting his glass with the float of lime warm in his hand, before his mouth captured hers.

Philip DiGiacomo“Can I ask you a question?”

A small woman had appeared from behind the gas pump as I was putting twenty dollars worth into my Volvo wagon’s tank.

“No, you can’t,” I replied.

Jesus Christ, how many wackos had hit me up for spare change in the past week? I jammed the nozzle back onto the cradle and ripped the receipt as it curled from the pump. She had pissed me off.

“Can you help me buy myself a wedding ring?”

headshot for InterviewsI hate the theater. Why does Sheila insist we go? A man my age has no time to spare. I study a floor map hanging on a wall in the lobby, noting the exits and locations of the men’s rooms.

“Come on, Oliver,” says my wife, pulling at my arm. “We’re on the second floor.” She starts walking toward our seats, waddling to and fro. Her fire engine red hair speaks to the massive crowd: I’m hair. I’m hair. Make way, I’m hair.

I turn to follow her and freeze. My father is at the bar. I recognize his stance, shoulders back, a commanding Army officer, ready to salute. A leggy brunette yaks in his ear. Orange overhead lights tan his skin a leathery brown and it changes him, makes him younger. He needs a shave.


15-views-v2-cover“As literary writers…we’re not supposed to just get the job done, we’re supposed to advance the conversation, and part of our challenge is to dig deeper and create something new, or at least approach an existing thing (such as setting) from a unique angle. Yes, our writing relies on social norms and cultural touchstones, but where genre writers tend to follow the old wrinkled tourist map, literary writers explore new territory.”

— Ryan Rivas

Not long ago, Burrow Press released a daring collection titled 15 Views of Orlando, a flash novella written, edited, and published by a team of local Orlandoans. Hardly a cluttered mash of contributions, this compilation consists of intertwined vignettes, which vary in perspective and flair. More than just a writing prompt, editor Nathan Holic challenged the status quo of literary form and function by requiring fifteen writers to submit a story set in Orlando, keep it under 1000 words, and turn it over for review in a single week.

Susan Tepper is co-author of the novel What May Have Been: Letters of Jackson Pollock & Dori G (with Gary Percesepe), the collection Deer & Other Stories and a poetry chapbook Blue Edge.  She conducts the Monday Chat Interview on the Fictionaut blog, and writes a satirical advice column, “Madame Tishka on Love & Other Storms” at Thunderclap! Press.  FIZZ, her series at KGB Bar in NYC, is a popular reading venue.

From the Umberplatzen is a collection of 48 linked flash chapters that submerge us in the visuals, the smells, the colored vibrancy of love in all its facets. Kitty Kat and M had a love affair in Germany. This slim and evocative novel is told in flashback, a journey that takes us through their memories and intimate snapshots, relived through the letters and gifts that M sends Kitty Kat through the mail.

Meg Tuite’s novel, Domestic Apparition, challenges the strictures of the novelistic form. One could qualify it as a “novel in stories” or even call it a collection of stories, but by the end of reading it, its cohesiveness and narrative pull firmly place it in the land of the novel, albeit a unique one, both in structure and content—one that perhaps only a small press would publish (and by saying that, I’m applauding small presses everywhere).

Implied memoir and autobiographical details in novels are de rigeur and nearly quaint in this age of the tell-all and ghosted celebrity bio, yet the autobiographical parallels in Thaddeus Rutkowski’s Haywire with its Chinese mother and Polish-American father and mixed-race protagonist and his siblings seem nothing but authentic and original. It’s the subtle and endearing rhythm of the rural Pennsylvanian family that reminds one of the kooky coming-of-age narrators found in such presumed fact-limned-for-fiction classics as Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Thumbsucker by Walter Kirn and The Fuck-Up by Arthur Neserian.

Out There

People burn cars out there. My father took us out there when I was 11 and we burned GranGran’s car, him shaking the lighter fluid over the hood and up against the sides like he was seasoning it, then he let me and Lily toss the lighter through the passenger window but we had to promise to run as soon as it left our hands. Less you want me to roll you in hot sauce and eat you like a crispy wing, you’ll run your little asses fast as you can. We kept our promise and felt the fire at our backs but didn’t get to see it start, when we turned around it was going like it’d been alive forever.

Lindsay, how annoyed is your father that you named your book Daddy’s?

Well, smartypants, the truth is that Daddy’s isn’t named after or about my dad, nor is it homage to him; however this didn’t stop him from informing me that I needed to make sure to tell everyone that he’s “the one true Daddy.” So I think he’s secretly titillated, maybe even proud, at the thought of Daddy’s being a thinly veiled tell-all about my childhood or my relationship with him. He hasn’t read the book; once he does he may regret that statement, after he stops barf-weeping that is.