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, were 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.
Solving for X is a close look at the problems in our lives we want to fix. In order to make those problems fundamental, and so universal, the narrator focuses first on the difficulties of story problem when she was a girl, and how her father tried to help her. In his mind, he was a good teacher, but the more pam can’t understand it the more stupid she feels and more frustrated her father gets.
At first, these calculations are low stakes, but as her life goes on she sees that the stakes change. They are higher. She can’t help but try and do the calculations that tell her if she will live to the next total solar eclipse in 2052. When she does this, she keeps coming back to the answer of–probably not.
This piece braids the chronology jumping from past to present, to a different past, and back again. Like much flash nonfic the math her father tried to teach her is an extended metaphor for not only aging but all the problems in her life that are inevitable and can’t be fixed.
I know my coverage as of late has been on stories from Asimov’s and F&SF, but I do still have a subscription to The Believer. It’s one of my favorite productions, still, though I’ve found the offering a little more hit and miss over the last few issues.
This piece is intriguing, though lacks, for me, any definitive meaning. It is a rather typical piece you’d find in The Believer if there is such a thing as a typical piece for this publication. The author travels to Mumbai as an ethnographer and meets a man who was part of the aboriginal peoples of what is now called Filmistan. Filmistan is a movie production hub with multiple sets and sound stages. Sadly, the formation of this Filmistan in the 1940s displaced the indigenous people of the region. Now there are very few who identify as Warlis, rather they have mostly assimilated with the rest of the populace of the suburbs of Mumbai.
Vikas is a Warlis and one that still practices, or attempts to practice many Warlis traditions. He maintains much of the prayer and spirituality as his indigenous ancestors but is constantly influenced by a film industry that worships fame, visibility, and technology more than the old mystical aspects of the human experience.
The author of this piece has been friends with Vikas for almost 2 decades and watches him go through the heavy endeavor of marrying ancient traditions with an ever-changing technological world in which social stratum is less defined yet still maintained by economic fortune and visual expectations, as visibility, in Vikas’s mind, is power.
It’s an interesting piece, but I feel as though I’m still unsure how monumental the founding of Filmistan was and how much damage it did the Warlis people. it is obvious that it was severe, but this piece focuses much more on Vikas and his eccentricities than on the difficulties of losing oneself when the culture you have ancestral ties to is degraded and disregarded.