I wrote this micro-fiction for Weird Tales years ago, when that magazine had just been refurbished (though the furbishment has since been tarnished) and they were looking fore short-shorts. For a long time I never thought “The Rats” would be published. Most magazines into flash fiction want something between 500 and a 1000 words, which is pretty highly specific when most of the time I’m simply writing a story and the length is what the length ends up being. Also, these magazines also want “complete stories” which seems, in practice, to often mean traditional plots in miniature which just as often become jokes (because jokes are often the shortest plots). Perhaps because my interest in humor tends towards the absurd, my stories do, too, being more concerned with mood and emotion and image than, well, character. And now I’ve written more words talking about “The Rats” than are in “The Rats” so you should probably just go ahead and read it now via the link above.
Third Flatiron has been good to me, publishing my story “Breach of Contract” in their 6th book Lost Worlds, Retraced and now this story in their 13th volume, Ain’t Superstitious. As with “The Rats,” my longer stories also tend towards the absurd and succeed, if they succeed, through character and image and mood more than plot. Since you can’t read a sample of the story on-line, I’ll simply tell you that it involves two friends–one an agoraphobic–and their eventual quest to get beer that ends unexpectedly. Or expectedly. Probably the latter.
You can buy the issue through the link above.
Click the link above to read “The Judges” and be, yourself, judged on how you read “The Judges.”
Unlike the other stories I’ve listed, this one has a clear plot & a direct progression from beginning to end, which is probably why it’s been one of my more popular stories so far. Even if the absurdity is front-and-center-in-your-face-like-a-cream-pie, the situation is relatable.
I mean, who likes being judged? And who doesn’t feel like everyone is judging them, all the time, for everything?
I was lucky enough to have Sherman Alexie find this poem in Subtropics and decide he liked it enough for inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2015. And so there it sits.
As you might now, there was a controversy about this year’s anthology because one of the included poets used an Asian pseudonym for his poem. The poet is white, but after his poems get rejected a certain number of times, he sends those poems out again under a Chinese woman’s name until they, hopefully, get accepted.
This is vile. As is his explanation that he does so because white authors (and male authors) are underprivileged in today’s writing market.
So that happened.
In other news, there are seventy-four other poets with seventy-four other poems in this year’s anthology, I’m one of them, and I heartily endorse reading that poem. Also, Sarah Arvio’s poem, which is the first one in the book, which is as far as I’ve gotten so far, and I like it.
Not the fact that I’ve only gotten to the first poem, as that is more simply a fault of my own reading.