The Passenger, fiction by Jane Flett

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“By the time the train skips East Broadway and hurtles under the East River towards Brooklyn, uneasiness is beginning to catch beneath the exasperation, a low burbling panic like the sound of scuba tanks exhaling…”

“The Passenger” first appeared in Gutter Magazine

Subway Tunnel by Allen Lai, licensed under Creative Commons

You board the F train at Broadway Lafayette, even though the coffeehouse is closer to Second Avenue, even though you’re exhausted by the day. If someone asked why, you would find it difficult to articulate—you’d probably shrug. Somewhere though, you’re thinking it’s a good omen for the tiresome midweek, this pleasing name. It reverberates with Franco-American relations, Sinatra scooping Charlotte from Serge’s arms, running her into the sea himself. It’s fun to say in an accent, rolled on the tongue like bitter ristretto, chin tilted in Givenchy and silk scarves. Sometimes, you like to eschew geography and let more poetic forces dictate your route: there is never telling where that might lead. However, no one cares to question your station choices. The train is grumpy and silent; the commuters are not seeking friends. You hide your face in a Metro, tuck your feet up on orange plastic and murmur: Lafayette, Lafayette.

It is a stupid habit, this reliance on romantic notions. Alan has always told you so. It isn’t something that will get you anywhere; it doesn’t gel with progress. There is a way to do things—a way to bone a fish, to wire a plug, to ensure the straight lines of skirting boards—ways, which are, in fact, the way. So: it would be churlish to act otherwise. It is churlish to indulge in the small rebellions you sometimes do. It would be sensible to board the closer train. Read more »

A Review of The Famished Road, by Ben Okri

 

by William Grabowski

In that land of beginnings spirits mingled with the unborn.

 

Ben Okri‘s Booker Prize-winning The Famished Road frequently has been compared to Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a not dissimilar work. Closer scrutiny reveals the facile utility of this comparison, but readers of Márquez unfamiliar with Okri will find much to like—even love—in The Famished Road. The ride itself, though, will be more turbulent and unsettling than that typically experienced in what is labeled Magical Realism. “The novel was written,” says the author in his Foreword, “to give myself reasons to live.”

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Animal Husbandry, fiction by Jeff Fleischer

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“Nothing about it’s right,” Herm Dublin said, smiling at his friends while still regarding the animal in his arms with a sense of horror.

(“Animal Husbandry” first appeared in Printer’s Row Journal)

AT AROUND TWO in the afternoon, on an otherwise unimportant Tuesday in June, Herm Dublin’s prize heifer gave birth.

It happened the way such things normally did. She’d been heavy with a calf for some time, and Dublin looked forward to the birth the way all small, organic dairy farmers did. A pregnant heifer was a heifer who’d soon be producing a lot of milk, and a calf meant a potential future source of even more milk. Dublin’s farm was hardly in trouble, but a successful birth was always welcome. When the time came, the heifer began to grunt loudly, and several minutes later she’d expelled her offspring onto the ground behind her, a trail of vibrant red afterbirth still hanging off her flanks. Read more »

A Review of She Walks in Shadows, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

Review by Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Out of the Shadows

She Walks in Shadows is the fruit of an Indiegogo campaign to create “the first all-woman anthology of stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.” Thanks to the campaign’s success, the editors were able to commission a grand total of 25 original stories, and include illustrations by 10 female artists. The book’s also been graced by two very gifted author/editors, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula Stiles. And it’s already won a World Fantasy Award in the Anthology category, and been a finalist in the Locus Poll for Best Anthology. Some of its stories are already starting to pop up in year’s best anthologies and other collections – such as “Violet is the Color of Your Energy” by Nadia Bulkin, already included in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 3.

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