Katy Haas

2021 Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction Winner

Congratulations to Ben Lof, winner of The Malahat Review‘s 2021 Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction. Lof won with his piece “Naked States.”

The story begins:

In January, Frank said to April, No more alcohol. This was not a New Year’s resolution. The vermouth pancakes tasted only of vermouth.

April said, Who the heck is named “Frank” anymore? I mean, what is this, the 1960s?

Frank said, That’s the booze talking, that kind of meanness. You used to be witty.

Oh? said April. I’m still witty, pal. Got buckets and buckets of wit.

So they dropped alcohol.

Lof was also interviewed for this issue, and you can check out the interview on The Malahat Review‘s website.

2021 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize in Issue 60 of Ruminate.

First Place
“The Florist” by Alex Cothren

Second Place
“A Guide to Removal” by Amber Blaeser-Wardzala

Honorable Mention
“Katingo Carried 15,980 Tons and a Gentleman” by George Choundas

Finalists include Nina Gaby, Elizabeth Paley, Lauren Loftis, Skye Anicca, Catherine Miller, Alberto Daniels, and Suphil Lee Park.

Read comments on the winners from Judge Kelli Jo Ford inside the issue as an introduction to the pieces.

Buckle Your Seatbelts, You’re in for Quite a Ride!

Guest Post by Cindy Dale.

Air France 006, Paris to New York. The seatbelt sign comes on. The captain calmly announces, prepare for a little turbulence.  More than a little it turns out. If you’ve ever been on a flight where you questioned if the plane would successfully land, you know the feeling. I don’t profess to have completely unraveled (or made sense of) all the threads of this book, but I enjoyed the ride.  Part sci-fi, part political thriller, part philosophical treatise, The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier was a huge bestseller in France and won the Prix Goncourt.

It took a bit for the puzzle pieces to fall in place for me, but once the catalyst for these disparate stories was revealed the novel picked up speed. Apparently, the same flight with the same crew and the same passengers landed twice—four months apart.  Ultimately, we follow the fates of eleven passengers (and their clones)—from a contract killer to a film editor to the author of a novel called, you guessed it, The Anomaly. There are references to everything from Martin Guerre to Elton John to Nietzsche. Quotes from War and Peace, Romeo and Juliet, and Ecclesiastes. Sandwiched in there is the American government’s ham-fisted response to the mysterious second landing.

I confess to getting a little lost in some of the mathematical and astrophysics tangents, but the reader is drawn into the personal stories of the passengers (and their clones).  What would you say if confronted with an exact doppelgänger of you, right down to the same memories, the same secrets, the same neurosis? Definitely existential, but also humorous and with quite a few quotable lines. You may not be able to board a flight and go on an exotic adventure these days because of Covid, but you can take off on a wild ride from the comfort of home with The Anomaly.

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier. Other Press, November 2021.

Reviewer bio: Cindy Dale has published over twenty short stories in literary journals and anthologies. She lives on a barrier beach off the coast of Long Island.

Expect the Unexpected

Guest Post by Julia Wilson.

Elizabeth McCracken is one of my favorite authors, primarily for her graceful blending of mundane realities with imaginative and unusual details, thus painting seemingly humdrum lives sparkling with the unexpected.

Bowlaway is no exception. Ostensibly a story about generations of an extended family living in a small town, McCracken’s odd characters are mixes of humorous, pathetic, lonely, yearning, creative, frail, damaged, liberated, secretive, selfish, and loving. They are mysterious and perplexing, not necessarily likeable but compelling. The book starts with a woman, Bertha Truitt, being found unconscious in a cemetery, without explanation. Thus begins the family saga of the Truitts, who own a bowling alley in the northeastern town of Salford.

But the real story in Bowlaway is the complexities of relationships, primarily marriages. In McCracken’s smooth sentences and use of an omniscient narrator, the reader is witness to weaknesses, loyalty, secrets, misunderstandings, and resignation. The partners in these relationships don’t have much eagerness in looking forward to the future yet have found a reality they can tolerate, containing both joy and heartache. There is tenderness between a woman and her mother-in-law, compassion of a wife in the face of her husband’s alcoholism, a recluse’s love for a mourning mother, and the relief of the few who escape the dreary life in Salford.

McCracken is at her best painting the facets of her characters so they come alive to the reader. They are flawed, self-interested, confused, and searching—as are we all.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. Ecco, November 2019.

Reviewer bio: Julia Wilson is an MA in Writing student at Johns Hopkins University

Ruminate – Issue 60

The writers and artists whose work makes up Ruminate Issue 60 probe the imagery and metaphor of being at sea. Included are Devon Miller-Duggan’s poem, “Perhaps a Prayer for Surviving the Night” and Peggy Shumaker’s “Gifts We Cannot Keep.” George Choundas’s engrossing story, “Katingo Carried 15,980 Tons and Gentleman,” transports us to the world of those who live and work on cargo ships. And O-Jeremiah Agbaakin’s poem, “landscape with broken ekphrasis,” muses on the image of the last ship that brought enslaved people to the United States. This issue features the winning story from our 2021 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize.

More info at the Ruminate website.

Plume – Feb 2022

This month’s featured selection: “On Long Poems, Lyric Sequences, and ‘Cop’”; An interview with Connie Voisine by Amanda Newell. Mark Wagenaar reviews Carmine Starnino’s Dirty Words. In nonfiction: “Reading the Qur’an with Rumi” by Amer Latif. This month’s poetry contributors include Ira Sadoff, John Hodgen, Katja Gorečan, Pablo Piñero Stillmann, Bhisham Bherwani, Kelli Russell Agodon, Brendan Constantine, and more. Find this issue at the Plume website.

The Iowa Review – 51/1

In this issue: a shrinking house, winter ticks, COVID, Burning Man, Alexander Pope, crisis, spies, a plane crash, wars, Sandy Koufax, and more. Poetry by Stella Wong, Gilad Jaffe, Camille Guthrie, Maxine Scates, Steffi Drewes, and more; and nonfiction by Carol Guess & Rochelle Hurt, Ellis Scott, Greg Wrenn, Amy V. Blakemore, and Andrea Truppin. Find fiction contributors at The Iowa Review website.

Cutleaf – Issue 2.1

In our first issue of 2022, Ben Kaufman searches for the ghost in the machine as he questions the way language and meaning changes through time in “Unknown Caller.” Pauletta Hansel views various effects of trying to live as the marrow in someone else’s bones in three poems beginning with “So Maybe It’s True.” And George Singleton shares the story of a boy named Renfro who wants only to earn his driver’s license and to reconcile his odd parents in “Here’s a Little Song.”

Learn about this issue’s images at the Cutleaf website.

Delectable Poetry by Dorothy Chan

I love Dorothy Chan’s poetry, so I’m always excited to see her name in a lit mag’s table of contents. Two of her poems are included in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Colorado Review: “You Might Change Your Mind About Kids” and “Triple Sonnet for Batman Villains and Whatever This Is.”

In “You Might Change Your Mind About Kids,” the speaker is told this titular sentence by a man she has a romantic relationship with. The poem is the mental dissection of his opinion on this topic, an inner rebellion broiling beneath the surface. Who is this man to claim her body, her future, her future child? How is she seen as “the place to reserve / for a baby, the hotel for a womb?” She feels palpable derision toward his assumptions and I love that clarity of the speaker knowing exactly what she wants and does not want. She’s not going to change for this man or any other man and she finishes the poem with, “If I ever love someone, I’ll be baby forever.”

“Triple Sonnet for Batman Villains and Whatever This Is” is such a fun poem that still holds a hefty dose of seriousness in its final stanza. This poem has one thing I always enjoy about Chan’s poetry which is the absolute pleasure of experiencing different foods. These two pieces are just as delectable as “sashimi and Snow / Beauty sake and mango mochi for dessert.”