I'm excited to have a story in The Write Launch's Special Short Stories Issue this month, alongside some wonderful writers.
I love the exploration of still/unstill quiets in Adrian Plau's flash piece, "Making the Ping":
The quiet we listened to then was my sister’s quiet. It was strict and hard. It needed more and more but could not grow quiet enough. But it was brittle. It took over the house and yet a little thing could break it. A pillow could tumble on the couch or a faint wind make a window on the first floor creak a bit and it would shatter. Then she had to start from the beginning again, piling up layer after layer of heavy quiet only for it to tear again once anything moved or made a sound. You could not hear little things in her quiet.
I love how it characterizes and creates a subtle plot around a ping, a sound, a silence.
I also love Kelly Ann Gonzales' "Dancing on Graves", evoking an un-american way of dealing with death. There is so much paucity in our commercialized mourning industry--so much self-help and so little flesh and bone.
Because that is what Filipinos do. We cook and we dance and we cry as we cook and dance. Court jesters in our microcosm kingdoms. We didn’t have power, but we had responsibility. An ingrained sense of duty to our families and heritage. Buena was the only other Filipina I went to school with, so even if we were just family friends, she might as well have been actual family.
“Life,” she would whisper to me, mapping a skeletal finger, nails lifeblood red, along my chin, “without other people like us is too difficult and far too lonely.”
My longer short, "I Enjoy Nineteenth Century Novels," came out of a space that kept offering a literature professor who was unhappy with her middle-years, unsatisfied with her profession, undesirable to herself somehow. I wrote the story because I wanted to know more about the character--wanted to see where she was going.
The students file through the door as I prepare to grade papers. When a pair of male legs pauses near my desk, I ignore them. After leaving tiny red fire ant-marks on the mediocre essay, I look up.
The student is waiting. His patience startles me. Late-afternoon sunlight broadens his narrow, vulpine face.
He says he wants to be a writer. He wants to write the world without hiding the bones. He has a degree in architecture. He hopes to expose the weakness of load-bearing beams.
The narrator doesn't have a name--doesn't inhabit herself responsibly or fully. She permits herself to be seduced into intimacy with a student. Part of what fascinates me is the way in which we rationalize breaking rules.
He says it is in my professional interest to lay it on the table. It is in my interest as a female to refrain from dismissing the power of individual narratives.
Nineteenth century novels are frequently the entry-point for study of white literary feminism and the cult of Victorian womanhood. I also wanted to reveal how the writing of sex can be unsexy, to corner the reader in that intimate space that seeks the arousal-shame cycle.
Although he enjoys nineteenth century novels, Victorianism moralism leads females to undermine their sexuality. He cringes. He hopes to describe a positive sexual experience from a female perspective. If it wouldn’t be too tiresome, would I mind sharing one such example from my own life– clinical if needed– so he might better understand the pieces and parts which go into such an account from a literary perspective?
Since it is the last class before the final exam, I agree to help him. Just this once. Since the memory feels fresh.
Sometimes a character doesn't give you the ending you crave. Sometimes they let you watch them tread water. I think it's important to explore the sexual boundaries that women are tempted to violate. I think it's logically untenable to claim, simultaneously, that 1) we are sexual creatures whose desires should be acknowledged 2) we are innocent of sexual harassment or sexually-inappropriate behavior because we are women.
You can read the whole story here.