I can’t read that much Franzen or Updike, but I can’t get enough of Chabon.
I’d argue that’s because Chabon doesn’t hate me, and I’m not so sure about the other two. (Who knows. Maybe Chabon would hate me eventually, but I feel like he’d suspend judgment until he met me.)
If you’re a frequent reader of these editorial notes, you might recall that I’d rather dig ditches than trudge through one of Chekhov’s short stories. I just don’t have a lot of patience for authors whose overwhelming attitude towards their subjects (and by extension, their readers) is one of cold disdain.
Instead, I find myself drawn to authors like the three in this month’s issue. Authors who, without dismissing our weaknesses, write to us with love. Is that too dramatic? I don’t think so. That they write with skill and art makes their stories that much more entertaining and enjoyable.
First up, Brianna Fenty’s difficult “Palmistry” takes us underground and lets us suffer with a prisoner who loses more than her freedom. What touched me most was how she treated her protagonist. There’s no coldness, no brutality, no pleasure in her frailty, no mockery of her emotional distress. She’s suffering, and we’re suffering with her, which makes the conclusion all the more satisfying.
Then, a really wonderful piece from Cate McGowan. The first story I read by Cate reminded me most of Flannery O’Connor. The piece in this issue, titled “His Favorites,” also takes some hints from O’Connor, but made some moves by the end that are entirely too fun to spoil. After reading her story here, you should track down her other work, including a collection of stories available here.
And finally, I’m really pleased to have a new story from Mark Blickley. I had the privilege of publishing one of his stories back in June, and his new piece, “An Army of Frogs” is further evidence for my claims above: that the best stories come from authors who recognize the humanity of their readers and still treat them with respect. The story in this issue is by turns hilarious, disturbing, and touching. You won’t want to miss it.
So, there you go. Grab some hot apple cider, put your phone on “do not disturb,” and enjoy these three great tales.
Daniel R. Julian