From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Fiction

Golden Lilies

It was the smell which woke me up, insinuating itself between the planks of my coffin: cooked meat mingling with the sweet odour of aromatic rice, and the tangy hint of fruit and spices — a powerful summoning if there ever was one.

Fiction

Notes Toward a Comparative Mythology

When you climbed out of the water, naked and dripping, you saw him standing by the rock where you’d left your skin in the sun, just standing over it with a quizzical look, poking at it with a finger. His eyes slid up along you and down again to it. With your skin in both hands he stared at you . . .

Fiction

Playing with Spades

She’s tried. Tried heading to random stores, and just grabbing decks with her eyes closed. Tried asking other people to grab the decks for her. They look at her strangely when she asks this, but she’s pretty enough, and manages a nervous smile, so they do. “Arthritis,” she says, to anyone who appears particularly uneasy. They grab the decks for her, take them to the counter, where the cashier places them into a plastic bag. She takes the bag home, touching only the handles, and shakes out the card decks, opening them slowly, carefully.

She never finds the Queen of Spades.

Fiction

Exotic to One Person Is Commonplace to Another: Lavie Tidhar

I suppose part of my awareness of culture, as such, is about how similar in many ways people are. What seems exotic to one person is commonplace to another. The question is who do you write for? How much do you explain, how much do you let the reader infer from the text? It’s a balancing act.

Fiction

The Integrity of the Chain

Someone beside the television, a shaggy man Noy identified at last as Sip Pan Joe, said, “Heard the first baby was born yesterday on the Chinese moon colony.” They called him Sip Pan Joe because he always charged ten thousand kip for a city journey. “Sip pan! Sip pan!” he would say, losing money every time he took a fare. They called him Joe because of some character in a Thai soap. Sip Pan Joe wasn’t all there, but he had a way of getting news. Noy said, “I want to go to the moon,” and Sip Pan Joe cackled and said, “No tuk-tuks on the moon! No air!”

Fiction

Fascinated by People on the Fringe: John Mantooth

Usually, I have to find the ending through draft after draft, but not this time. I was driving through South Alabama (on the way to Disney World) with my family a few summers ago and saw an ancient looking water tower. Immediately, I thought: What if some kids find something in the water tower?

Fiction

The Water Tower

“There’s an alien in the water tower.” Jeremy Posey stood at the front door of Heather’s trailer, dressed in camouflage fatigues, glasses crooked on his sunburned nose. Above him, the sun passed its zenith and hung lazily in the western sky. His dirty-blonde hair caught the light and filtered it towards Heather in soft hues. […]

Fiction

Trench Foot

Scary Sandra loitered on the stairs. Her shoulder bones poked through a faded yellow cardigan as she sat hunched on the top stair. “I’m bored. I’ve picked all the nits out of my hair and licked all of the dead skin off my dressing table and all the ghosts have gone to have tea with the Queen.”

Fiction

Humanizing Myths: Nadia Bulkin

There was a certain ancient, mythological, allegorical feel to the whole “married to the sea” idea, and I wondered how it would translate to a more contemporary setting, i.e., “what would really happen” if this was a real custom. I think there’s a lot to be said for humanizing myths.

Fiction

Lake Tahoe’s Lover

When the lake chose Els, everyone was surprised. So was Els. She was nothing aquatic, barely anything at all — Aries-born, Capricorn ascendant, a mishmash of air and earth, a harsh dust storm, the one they feared would not be chosen by any of the Family of Landforms. They had shown Els to lonely deserts and old mountains and they all said no; they all said, “what is that?” And those were the dregs of the Landforms.