This is my last magazine review for my year of short fiction. I’ll continue to read short fiction in the new year, but it will be individual stories and anthologies rather that magazines. My reviews here will be mainly for books, though I may read the occasional short fiction magazine as well. My short fiction page will continue to list my favorite short fiction short stories.
“The Year Without Sunshine” by Naomi Kritzer: A neighborhood block bands together after a disaster returns them to nearly basic subsistence. The action is centered around making sure a woman with COPD has supplemental oxygen to breath and stay alive. More broadly, it is about how this one neighborhood unselfishly worked together to survive while a nearby suburb was more like every man for himself. (My rating: 4/5)
“The Pandemonium Waltz” by Jeffrey Ford: A neighbor and his wife learn of their neighbor couples’ odd experience at an exclusive traveling waltz exhibition. This starts out very matter-of-fact and gets more creepy as it goes on. The question explored is when does a story told to you become your story rather than theirs? Not really my cup of tea. (My rating: 3/5)
“The Quiet of Drowning” by Kel Coleman: A teenage girl whose aunt killed herself is checked into a psych ward after attempting suicide. Very disturbing story of someone dealing with urges of self-harm. It is the first thing that has helped me to understand even a little the temptation to harm oneself. The girl sees herself and an Other. The Other is the one who keeps tempting her. (My rating: 4/5)
“We’re Looking for the Best” by Cecil Castellucci: A woman who has just lost her job meets an old boss going to a job interview and agrees to join her. I can’t say much more without giving too much away on this one. An interesting tale of finding your niche. (My rating: 4/5)
“A Piece of the Continent” by Marissa Lingen: A young woman and her friend set off from Boston to Alaska to scatter their grandfathers’ ashes. They encounter supernatural danger along the way that brings them even closer. (My rating: 4/5)
“End of Play” by Chelsea Sutton: The author tells of a play he has written and its first performance. It is also sort of in the style of a play. It feels like a lot of things that don’t really come together for me. (My rating: 2/5)
“Esqueleto” by Ana Hurtado: A child tries to get his mother to understand that they live in a whale carcass that is being consumed. This story is a word salad that makes almost no sense. It is like a poem trying to be a story that succeeds at neither. I didn’t even finish reading it. (My rating: 1/5)
The average rating for a story in this issue was only 3.14 out of five stars. That story with a one rating and none with a five really brought the average down for this issue.