Favorite Reads, Last Quarter-ish

With the holidays upon us I decided to go ahead and post my fourth quarter Favorites . I’m currently reading some books I plan to review here plus I have a post or two percolating so I don’t think I’ll be reading as many journals as usual until after the New Year. I’m linking to CNF, Fiction, and Poetry in this one post, sort of a one stop shopping thing. 😊 I hope y’all will click over when you have a little reading time. Happy reading!

CNF

Helen Keller’s Manicure by TERESA MILBRODT in Booth

“When Alexis goes to the bathroom, Drew says it’s important to make sure she’s happy with their sex life. When Drew goes to the bathroom, Alexis says he’s overly concerned with their sex life. Drew and I have talked about his need to overcompensate for his disability through being sexually above average. He figures people assume he can’t have sex because he uses a wheelchair, so he has to prove them wrong. Did I mention he’s a shameless flirt?”

*

Green Freak by Angie McCullagh in The Sun.

Other bits of garbage show up around the house. A torn pair of underwear becomes a dishcloth. The cork from last night’s bottle of pinot is a key ring. (It floats! Otto crows.) A bowl of coffee grounds and brown sugar sits on the edge of our bathtub to use as body scrub.

*

Je Ne Suis Pas Jaloux by Nuala O’Connor in Tiny Essays.

I rationalise that one person’s fortune does not mean fewer good things for others. I congratulate people on all successes in life and in work and, mostly, I mean it when I say that I’m happy for them. But there are always those successes that sting, like the time a twenty-five-year old wins the under forties prize I’m being considered for. At forty years of age, it’s my last year to be eligible and the winner, clearly, has fifteen more shots.

*

ASYMPTOTES by Dina Relles In Diagram

“As a young girl, I would whisper a Hebrew phrase to help me settle into sleep each night: Adonai Li Velo Eera. God is with me, I shall not fear.I needed a steadiness, to believe in justice and soul mates and someone who’d save me from kidnappers climbing through bedroom windows or lightning striking suburban houses or ending up alone.

Now I never pray.”

*

Buttoned By Melissa Ostrom in Ruminate.

“The house smells delicious, like caldo verde, and sweet bread, and the dish your grandmother calls mul: fried peppers and linguiça, threaded with egg. It is good to be a child in this house”

*

Saturday Mornings by T.J. Butler in New South Journal

“Later, the girls stand in front of the open refrigerator, slightly feral: slices of cheese torn from plastic, pickles from the jar, a swig of Hershey’s syrup, jelly scooped out with a finger. They wipe their hands and faces on their nightgowns.

The girls look nothing alike, save for matching purple circles under their eyes.

*

Dorothy Allison on the necessity of making readers uncomfortable in Lithub (via Garden and Gun)

“It’s one of the things I love about a lot of Southern literature. We do it better than anyone. We can make you laugh and cry at the same time, which is my favorite thing. I work hard to do a kind of seduction in which you read sections that are very funny and charming, and then, two paragraphs later, it ain’t charming. It ain’t funny. It’s horrible. And to have both of those things happen at the same time, that’s life.”

*

The Art of Losing Friends and Alienating People by Laura Lippman in Longreads

As a friend, I frequently break the first rule of fiction: I’m all tell, no show. I’m not going to remember your kid’s birthday, or even yours, despite Facebook’s helpful nudges. When you’re in a crisis, I won’t know the right questions to ask. I blame my Southern parents for placing so many topics in the forbidden zone. I grew up being told it was rude to discuss age, income, health, feelings. I often think that’s why I became a reporter.

*

Your Stories: The Best of the Folklore Project 2019 in Bitter Southerner

Every story in this series (a personal favorite) is stellar. Don’t miss it!

***

Fiction

Echo by Anna Vangala Jones in Jellyfish Review

“The hunter had not allowed for a fair fight. He’d followed her first in his jeep, built for the terrain, and then on foot. He stalked her for some time from a distance before positioning his rifle just so and aiming for her wide, unprotected back as she bathed herself. She remembered the quiet. She remembered the peace. She wondered how long he watched her before firing the shot that brought a life full of beautiful possibilities to an abrupt end.”

*

Barrel Cactus by Michelle Ross in FRiGG.

“Jennifer’s lived in the desert her whole life. She grew up watching her dad impale rattlesnakes in their backyard with a rake. She didn’t care for Chicago when we visited my mother at Thanksgiving. “It’s so crowded and so concrete and so cold.”

I say now, “I like their armor. Their prickliness makes them beautiful.” Like how chainmail is beautiful, and sleek metal helmets that open and close on hinges. When we went to the Art Institute of Chicago during that visit, I spent the entire afternoon in the medieval section.”

*
Only A Little Bit Less Than I Hate Myself by Amy Stuber in Longleaf Review

“For the two years prior to our separation, my ex-husband read every word of Knausgård’s endless volumes, and our conversations went like this: “What woman would be granted this ridiculous amount of page space to spew minutia?” (No woman.) “You barely speak. Why would you be drawn to someone who can’t censor his banal thoughts?” (Can’t explain it.) I saw Knausgård’s bookback face more than I saw my husband’s, which at that point was fine, I guess. ”

*

Interestingly, the next two Fiction pieces have the same title, both are cautionary tales, and both are lyrically beautiful. However, the writing style of each writer is distinctly their own.

Girls in the Woods by Jacqueline Doyle in Craft Magazine .

“They’ve walked the mile home before, twice. Surely nothing bad can happen to thirteen-year-old girls when there are two of them? They’re almost grown up. It’s not so far.

When the battered maroon pickup slows and the pale-eyed man with the red baseball cap leans out the passenger window and calls, Want a lift, ladies? they laugh and shake their heads.

*

Girls in the Woods by Madeline Anthes in Okay Donkey

“You don’t know that one day the campfire boys will hold flashlights under their faces to scare the girls. They’ll say you’re still roaming the woods, looking for revenge.

You don’t know that the campfire girls won’t believe them. They will shiver and cry for you, hear your voice in the crackling fire. They will grip the logs below them and wonder if you are watching them. They will hope you are.”

***

Poetry

No One Can Tell the Bones of the Dead from the Bones of the Living by Chelsea Dingman in Poetry Daily

“Frustration is a family

unit, a disease undetectable except by sound:
a cry, a deadbolt turning, the doorknob

reversed so the lock is on the outside.”

*

Never Forget Why Your Wrist Throbs by Alexis Rhône Fancher in The Piker Press

“Twenty-some years later,

after the boy gets cancer

and dies,

your body remembers,

hoards its wounds like a black hole”

*

Field Trip by Babo Kamel in Counterclock

“We were living

the nostalgia we would one day crave

before one of us turned his back on living

and a field somewhere was forced to remember

the shape of a naked girl beneath a moon

that had never been so cold, before grief

came to peck us with its sharp beak”

*

My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2:00 a.m. by Robert Okaji in The Indianapolis Review

“We’ve long splashed through that puddle of contention, and though
wary of repetition’s erosive qualities, I resort to ritual, drop a piece of 
kombu into a pot of water, bring it to a boil, remove it from the heat

*

The Sunday Blues by Austin Davis in Eunoia Review

” I’ve blown out all the candles in my house
and I’m sitting naked in the moonlight,

imagining that the crickets chirping from my lawn
are gossiping about the way the darkness falls
through the window in patches of hair along my chest.”

*

And I love this next one so much because who doesn’t have cool memories of a favorite concert?

“We Spent Last Night with Alice Cooper” by Ace Boggess in Delmarva Review, a print journal but shared by Ace on Twitter.


8 thoughts on “Favorite Reads, Last Quarter-ish

  1. I’ve read the first two just now (I had to google the second since the link is a dead-end), and they are wicked good! I feel all inspired now. 🙂 And will read them all.

    Thank you so much for doing this for us! ❤

    Like

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