Tag Archive: short fiction

Stories to Read Online in July



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?



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…

The Shortlist!

Thank you to everybody who entered Towerbabel’s first short story contest. Rest assured, there will be plenty more, of varying word limits and themes, to come, so stay tuned for those. And see below for how to cast your vote for your favorite!

Without further ado, here’s our shortlist:

The Last Game in Brooklyn by Wayne Zurl









Whispers in the Autumn Wind by Michelle Medhat









Forever by Coren Graves









Gone Fishing by Stephen V. Ramey









Now it is up to you to vote for the favorite story of your choice. Read them here and click the little blue Facebook Like button at the top right hand corner of your favourite story to show your appreciation. The story with the most Facebook Likes will win, and you can log your vote until July 8th, when all votes will be counted and the winners announced. Best of luck to all the shortlisted entries!

Picks of the Web for March


The almost-beginning of Spring is really bringing out the variety in new literature. Mixed media, new forms, new uses of online spaces, it’s all going on and good writers are really testing the fertile ground. The phrase emerging writer has never seemed so apt. So here are five of the best that we’ve found online this month:

Song of Weights and Measurements by Martha Silano in Poetry Magazine

This poem takes a concept that would be a gimmick and turns it with each line into a deepening, heavying sensation, spreading out in all directions, in bushels, in whispers, in doses, establishing by the end of the poem a delicate but many-surfaced coral, which seems to describe love and loss perfectly without ever mentioning its subjects.

Nineteen Things Only People Who Are Not Going to Survive The Hour Will Understand by Julia Evans in MonkeyBicycle

This story uses the quickfire form of the online list article that pops up in our newsfeeds and ad banners with this sensational title. Look at me! it says. But then, as the list goes on, little vignettes of tragic and majestic moments at a homecoming game gone wrong, in a relationship somehow on the brink of collapse, we realise that this world we’ve stepped into is firy and apocolyptic, and really anything could happen.

Clarion Maria Leads the Ghost Train to Town, Episode 11 of Lazy Eye Stories by Kayla E. and David Rice

This comic series is released in online episodes, the text simple black on grey but start reading and the prose is colorful, even grotesque. The pictures similarly have a collection-of-household-stains kind of pallette. Together this double act team tells the unique and particular story of Eye, “a disembodied, methadone-addicted Lazy Eye.”

The Test by Nogar Alam in Atticus Review

The narrator of this story squats in some facility toilet, trying to give a urine sample. For some reason that will keep us guessing throughout the short but difficult piece, this urine test is “a nightmare.” Her body struggles while her mind seems resilient. She is silent but crying out inside. This mysterious gem of a story teaches us a lesson, that with high enough stakes, every detail becomes crucial and no answers need to be given to make us feel like we’ve been taken somewhere very important.

Gone with the Mind by Mark Leyner in the Paris Review

Mark Leyner is a master of messing around with form and with the expected order. In this story the narrator muses about the nature of things. His rambling internal conversation gives the impression of being loose and spontaneous but it is hyperrealistic, more eloquent and rapid than actual thoughts, more lucid.

And send us your own picks from this month, poems, stories, excerpts, photos, whatever’s inspired you!

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!