Short Thoughts on Short Fiction is a new monthly column that will focus on short stories. Each month we will review a small selection of short stories from anthologies, collections, and zines, both old and new. We want to acknowledge some of the great short fiction that’s out there, shine a light on emerging writers, and point readers in the direction of great fiction.
“Invisible” by Steve Rasnic Tem from Figures Unseen: Selected Stories
Steve Rasnic Tem is one the finest short story writers. He excels in the form and his work is deserving of all the accolades he’s received so far. One of the qualities in Tem’s short stories is the use of deceptively simple language to express deep character development and complex emotions. He really digs deep into his characters. Figures Unseen acts as a kind of best of book, as it collects stories from previous collections, so there isn’t a dud in the collection. Any number of moments and images and lines from various stories in the book resonated with me but for now I want to highlight “Invisible”. Invisible is a tale drenched in sadness as it tells the story of a family who are socially invisible and, over time, fade in other ways. People can become unmoored from life when they don’t feel seen or are unconnected from those around them and the act of being seen can be a lifeline that alters everything. “Invisible” is a touching story that goes in unexpected directions and to some dark places. It is also a reminder to see those around us.
“The Oyster and Alice O.” by Anna Tambour from the collection The Finest Ass in the Universe.
This story keeps doubling down on the strangeness in unexpected ways, going places where you never imagine it will, before ending exactly where it needs to. A fun and weird story.
“Freshman” by Epiphany Ferrel from Dream Noir
Lilyn sez: Sometimes what you don’t say is as powerful as what you do. This is a little blip of a story, but the loneliness in it will tug at the heart strings, and the acceptance at the end was kind of heart-breaking. I feel like I would be this female.
Brian Lindenmuth is the former non-fiction editor of Spinetingler Magazine and the former editor of Snubnose Press. He likes both kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. He blogs about subtitled TV shows and movies at One Inch Tall Movies