Small Thoughts: The Joy in Wounding by Charlotte Ashley

The Joy in Wounding, published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a fantasy piece by Charlotte Ashley. It’s a continuation of some characters from a prior short story published in F&SF.

Image result for fantasy and science fiction magazine nov/dec 2019

Despite the fact I’d read that last story, I’m still grappling with the type of world this is. The main character is a witch, and so are her sisters, but then she has like some wind that floats around her all the time and can talk (?). It feels very Murakami in some ways, yet then magical things are happening that make the main character fly around leagues and leagues–with no real point of reference.

If I hadn’t read the last story in this series I’d have been even more confused than I am, and not only with the world. Some of the character’s actions seem unwarranted and unearned as if they act in order to create plot, rather than in their truer nature. Sometimes there are those pieces in magazines that I just can’t understand how they fit into what is publishable and marketable, and sadly this is one of those. It’s a harsh assessment, but this reader had an exceedingly difficult time not putting down the issue altogether.


Small Thoughts: Bee Man by Scott Loring Sanders • Brevity • May 14, 2018

Bee Man by Scoff Loring Sanders is among my favorite kind of pieces. It’s a piece, like so many of those found on Brevity, takes a tiny thought, interaction, instant in time, and burrows into it, finds the true meaning there, and reveals it to the reader.

In this, the author is on a bike ride in Appalachia country.  He stops at an old man’s cabin when the old man sees him riding by and offers him a cold drink. When Sanders comes closer to the porch of the house he sees that it is swarming with honey bees. The honey bees, says the old man, wsandersere first fostered to attract raccoons. The old man liked watching the raccoons. They gave him a sense of connection–which makes sense, as anyone who has spoken to a raccoon knows those little critters are only one vocal cord mutation of speaking back.

The old man’s wife died some time back, but Sanders sees what should be obvious about the raccoons, but isn’t. They are now this old man’s companions. And while he is solitary he, with the help of the honey bees, is not lonely. He has made peace with a soft hum of nature and while Sanders finishes his bike ride, he can’t help but seek the same calm he saw within the old man.

This is the type of piece that makes me want to write better. It’s the type of piece that makes me want to delve into those fleeting moments and uncover what there is to unpack–as there always is. I already have an idea for a piece, and I thank Mr. Scott Loring Sanders for the inspirational piece.

Small Thoughts: Visible Cities by Rachel Pollack, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, July/August 2018

A lot has happened since I last posted here. I know. I got the flu in the middle of summer. Can you believe it? While I had the flu I went on a summit attempt to climb Tahoma (Mount Rainer) and made it up to about 12,500 or so before complications ensued and my party had to retreat.

Now that I’m finally back home and in the groove of things again, I’ve begun reading and writing.

cov1807lg-250Today I read Visible Cities by Rachel Pollack. Pollack has been one of my favorite short story writers for some years now. I think it was back in 2012 that F&SF published a piece called “Immortal Snake,” by Rachel, and I have held onto the issue ever since because it made such an impression on me.

From the title, I couldn’t help wonder about where the inspiration for this piece was found. Visible Cities explores a side character of Pollack’s serialized supernatural detective character Jack Shade, so that’s obvious inspiration–but Visible Cities is very nearly Invisible Cities which is the title of Italo Calvino’s most famous novel. While there do seem to be some loose connections–I’m curious if a reread of Invisible Cities would enlighten me more to any parallels.

This story, by Rachel Pollack, is the origin story for a side character, Carolien, Jack Shade’s lover. It is a wonderful reminder that those characters are actually the center of their own vast and extreme plots. Much of this story is an expansion of the world Jack Shade lives in, and while the plot is a simple one: Caroline gets a teacher in the arcane arts and when her teacher disappears she goes and looks for him, the place’s she visits are whimsical and creepy in some wonderful ways.

The end of the piece is marked by one of Rachel Pollack’s signature lessons, in which character and reader learn something about the world they share within the confines of the story. The best part about this piece is the strange and surprising world you get to inhabit. (C)