Tag Archive: Flash Fiction

Stories to Read Online in July

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For whatever beach, balcony or sweaty train you’re on today, some proper hot stories for the start of summer in these new summer issues:

About Her and the Memories that Belong to Her by Mieko Kawakami in Granta Online

Kawakami is a new discovery for me this month. The little prologue to this story is itself a stunning piece.

“If we think of our memories as having a shape, then one possibility is that they come in the shape of a box. I know that this is not entirely an original idea, but that doesn’t make it untrue,” the prologue begins. It’s a beautifully and confidently abstract beginning to a surprisingly specific, grounded story, set at the narrator’s middle school reunion, where she is shocked to learn that an old classmate of hers has died and struggles to remember why the girl is so significant to her.

Dole Girl by Barbara Hamby in the Boston Review

Rightly selected as the winner of the Aura Estrada contest 2015, this story feels so true and surrounding, even though I have absolutely no experience of a Hawaian pineapple canning factory. In fact, you can almost taste the pineapples. A ripe, vivid sense of time and place, plus a compelling character with a burning desire is a winning combination. This story has both in excess. It’s a real lesson in voice, too; the voice of our “Dole Girl” is strong, youthful, naive and streetwise at the same time, making me wish I could read a whole novel of it.

Taxidermy by Vladislava Kolosova in Ploughshares

Set in after-dark Moscow, this is an unsettling story about a young woman who has started having sex for money, to help pay for her studies. One night, she’s picked up by a charismatic, authoritative “New Russian” called Eva who buys a night with her and takes her home to her quiet, boxer-like husband. Like all good shorts, Taxidermy plants its real lightbulb moments just left of center. After the sex, after the drama, the quiet moment gives this story its edge.

My Life by Chantal Clarke in N+1

This is a terrifying but profoundly funny little story. We are tricked by the narrator at first, as in plain childlike language, she describes the bare bones of her life, “I HAVE A HOUSE, and it’s great. My money bought it, so it’s mine. I love to live in it,” she begins. But she reveals after a while, and with glee, that she’s really “Predator 923,” a drone who is “writing simply so you’ll trust me.” Be warned, this story might make you want to try all kinds of weird stuff in your work.

Congregation by Christopher Alessandrini in the Harvard Advocate

A little treat from a magazine very close to my heart. This story follows a girl working at a summer camp. From the outside, she seems to be on the brink of something, some beginning of real life, but to her, the world of the camp and the array of girls and boys that form her camp society, is its own special kind of real life. Searing sharp human observation meets beautiful lines describing the architecture, natural and otherwise of “Link’s Seafood & Bait” where the camp is situated: “Out by the sheds, the bulrush swells with frog song and birds, whip-thin plovers and orioles halving through the stalk like light on water, all that good gossip and whisper.”

What are your reading recommendations for July?

CONGRATULATIONS!

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You’ve been voting in your swarms this week and have named the winner of the first Towerbabel Short Story Contest as…

 COREN GRAVES for his story, “Forever.”

Congratulations, Coren!

A close second place prize goes to MICHELLE MEDHAT for her story “Whispers in the Autumn Wind.”

Thank you to all our shortlisted writers and all the writers that entered for your concise, stylish stories.

AND STAY TUNED – for more contests of various lengths and themes and formats coming soon…

Last Two Days to Enter Our Short Story Contest!

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Have you submitted your entry to the first ever Towerbabel Short Story Contest yet?

What are you waiting for? Just post your story of under 1000 words to our Forums contest page as a new topic and you could win $100 in Amazon vouchers or $50 if you make 2nd place. Your story doesn’t have to be an Edgar Allen Poe twisty-turny or a clever Dave Eggers satire, it can be a stream of ideas, an image, a moment, a conversation. It can be five words long or 50, or 999.

We’ll announce the shortlisted entries on July 1st, and then for one week only, visitors will have the chance to vote via a Facebook-style Like button on the story of their choice, and the winners will be announced July 8th.

Good luck!!

 

 

Picks from the Web: Top Stories Under 1000 Words

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If you haven’t entered our short story contest to win $100 in Amazon vouchers, maybe a few picks from June’s newly released lit mag editions will give you some ideas. These shorts show that you don’t need a twist in the tail or a punchy style to give the reader a transforming experience:

Hotel by Monica De La Torre in The White Review

“The women at the gym enjoy talking to hotel guests at the fitness centre.

A man carrying his fresh dry-cleaning complains about the slow elevator.

A man carries bulky photo equipment and drags a console on wheels.

A woman at the coffee bar admires my shoes. ‘Comfortable,’ she says.”

In the current issue of the White Review, Monica De La Torre shows her prowess in the short form, placing prose and poetry next to one another, she uses the space of the page with freedom, laying her objects and subjects out as if drawing rather than writing them. Very quickly but without pressure to come to a conclusion she presents her setting, letting it speak for itself.

Geographies by Sayantani Dasgupta in Contrary Magazine

“He dumped her via a terse, two-line email.”

So begins this story about a long-distance relationship carried out over letters and messages. Our narrator thinks her lover, though she’s never really “met” him, is perfect, his words are “sweet like the segment of a perfect orange,” each little thing that he does from a distance is beautiful. But after this email, the break up, she becomes dissatisfied and longs to make an actual memory of him. Dasgupta uses a short form to present the ideal and real relationship, but the schism between manages to be a hopeful rather than sad realisation.

iphone by Charlie Latan in Litro

This tiny weeny story shows you don’t need long with a simple idea and a resonant ending. Latan conjures an absurdly realistic idea, of a little person living inside his phone, dropping his mother’s calls.

Pig Out by Heather Villa in Bartleby Snopes

After Paula drops a precious ceramic pig belonging to one of her mother’s friends, the pig is put behind glass, and Paula becomes known as the girl who breaks things. The heat of this gossipy suburban environment is created by the repeated whispers about Paula.

“Isabelle looked up at Paula’s mother and said, “Before you come over Mommy puts away fancy things. Paula breaks things.””

Drive by Aaron Gansky in Apeiron Review

This one isn’t technically from June, but I couldn’t help it. A beautifully succinct story about a boy whose dad sometimes leaves him in their car under a blanket reading comics while he goes to do some kind of mysterious work. This time though, he comes back to the car more shaken up than usual…

Give us your best shot! Send us something under 1000 words, of anything, scene, shocker, monologue, anything. And I’ll be revealing the short listed entries next week. 

February’s Reading Picks from the Web

Ksenia Kudelkina

Even amid mounds of snow, the bright clean smell of Winter turning into Spring somehow arrives, and on these exciting days, there are some beautiful stories cropping up in magazines across the web. Here’s just a handful of our favorites:

Locally Made Panties (excerpts) by Arielle Greenberg in PANK

With a Miranda July-esque flavour, Greenberg’s collection of pieces from her new book Locally Made Pantiesn is eccentric and honest. Each vignette introduces us to some little detail of life or some emotion rarely picked out or spot lit in fiction, the feeling for example of being called out, “like when I went to a Buddhist retreat and the first thing the rinpoche said was, “Everyone is here for the wrong reasons,” and I knew he was right, at least about me.

Discipline by Michael Don in Smokelong Quarterly

This short short conjures a world in mere moments as the narrator’s older brother snatches the narrator’s ear and squeezes it, as if he plans to pull it clean off, like one of his favorite magic tricks. The familiarity and foreignness of family is almost suffocating here, and made with details like the “thread of brisket wedged between two of his small teeth” as the narrator looks up at his brother’s face.

What Good Looks Like by James Mitchell in Litro

It’s rare to find a writer who has so much fun writing, and shows it in his sentences and is generous with it. In this story, Mitchell takes on the voice of an 8-year-old girl called Ruby who is writing her diary about being moved to “Sparrow table” and captures the essence of childrens’ speech.

Sweetness by Toni Morrison in The New Yorker

Toni Morrison’s voice is bold and vivid in this upsetting account from a mother who feels ashamed of her daughter’s black skin. “It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me,” she begins and the story follows the alternate loving and pity and shame, the unlikely truth of motherhood.

Poems by Marianne Boruch in Poetry Magazine

Marianne Boruch has a vivid, hypnotic voice. In the first poem Mermaid, her voice pulls and lilts in a sinister lapping rhythm, mimicking both the sea around the mermaids and their lustful influence. Boruch also has a new book of poems coming out next year, Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing, so now’s the time to start exploring her work.

To catch up with January’s picks, check out our previous reading recs blog, and send us your recommendations, too!