Tag Archive: online reading

Stories to Read Online in July

palms

 

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?

Top 5 Short Things To Read Online This Month

may

 

More unconventional stories to get you thinking this month, from journals, mags and other places online.

A Numbered Graph That Shows How Each Part of the Body Would Fit Into A Chair by Mary Jo Bang in Granta

A little square paragraph of poetry to bring out your experimental side today. The illusion of prose that Mary Jo Bang creates here gives a feeling of domesticity, of simple confession, but the inner workings and convolutions make it a much denser, deeper animal.

Tuesday Night Figure Drawing at the Community Center by Diana Smith Bolton in Anderbo

This delightful little scene is a great example of how effective it can be to create your own unique jargon as you write, a language that belongs only to the world of your story. Here, Bolton’s life model navigates different faces as she changes poses, each introduced by its nickname, the “Renaissance Face” transforming into the “Les Miserables Face;” this unique language creates a comic peculiarity that sticks in the mind after the story is done.

The Easing by Gary Joshua Garrison in decomP

This is an uncomfortable narrative. In a stream of violent sensations and little idea of the rules and physics of this setting, The Easing reminds me of the opening of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, huge, abstract scope but with a very real sense of menace. A good one to read if you’re trying to write some horror or suspense.

Pleasure to Make Your Acquaintance by Sarah Kokernot in Crazyhorse

Character and place are quickly and gorgeously evoked in this story, which follows the young, charismatic Magdelena Schuller as she begins to work for Mrs. Woods of Hot Springs, Arkansas one spring. Read for its exquisite sense of place and time, and the way detail, gesture, and routine create characters’ relationships with one another.

Dead Mouse by Caroline Macon in [PANK]

“There is a teeny tiny dead mouse on the back porch. He died about three days ago and looks corpsier every time I pass by.” What a way to start a story! This creepy but super colloquial voice has a strange fresh kind of lyricism to it. It lulls us in with its unserious tone and then comes out with gems of human observation – “It takes a lot of energy to miss someone I hardly know at all”  – and it comes with an audio version so you can get your fiction fix on the go.

What are your reading picks of the month? Share them with us!

Pick of the Lit Mags

I love keeping up with the latest issues of online magazines, often showcasing the best short fiction from the best short fiction writers, from all over the emerging scale. From my reading rounds this month, here’s my pick of the lit mags, from some well-known and new names, from publications that I think are doing a good service to readers.

Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets by Zadie Smith in The Paris Review

Zadie Smith’s cool voice is at a resounding peak in this new story, about Miss Adele as she tries to obtain a corset and she lets us in to what its like to feel different, even in the impressive variety of New York City.

I Think He Might by Callie Collins in NANO Fiction

This flash piece from NANO Fiction is an atmospheric jewel, with one of the best first lines I’ve read in a while – “When my sister’s husband and I get drunk, we get grandiose about Texas.”

Hubcaps by Thomas McGuane in The New Yorker

Between his parents’ volatile cocktail hour and the importance of baseball, Thomas McGuane’s protagonist negotiates growing up by pursuing what McGuane calls in an interview about the story a “small outlaw adventure”.

All Valley All The Time by Meghan Gilliss in Nat. Brut

As the narrator recounts episodes of her romantic life, unevenly across four numbered sections, beginning with being kissed by a drunk woman on an Amtrak ride, Gilliss reveals the unique chronology of our love-selves and paints some pretty lingering pictures.

Buoyancy by Douglas W. Milliken in The Collagist

Unusual perspective, unusual objects come together in this little story about a sculptor who makes a film, starring her own boyfriend and her own perfect white sphere sculpture. As the story shows a play by play of the film’s scenes, a relationship between the text and the artist and the subject becomes beautifully palpable.