I emailed Ray Vukcevich recently about another of his stories from Meet Me in the Moon Room selling to a Japanese magazine (“No Comet” will be either the third or fourth, can’t remember) and he mentioned that he’d just had a story published on Smokelong Quarterly (don’t like the name). His story, “A Funny Smell,” is a short blast of displacement, philosophy, faith, and laughs—a typical Vukcevichian moment—and there’s an interview to go with it.
The ToC at the bottom of the page (smart design!) listed a Dan Chaon story, “The Hobblers,” and Dan’s always worth reading so I read that—the time dilation and emotional weight was a little similar in effect to some of Ray’s stories—and then the interview with Dan.
Since I’d read a couple of stories by two guys I knew I thought I should try some people I didn’t, so I skimmed through a few and liked “Me and Theodore Are Trapped in the Trunk of the Car with Rags in Our Mouths and Tape Around Our Wrists and Ankles, Please Let Us Out” by Mary Hamilton which has a brilliant opening, “I built a bridge and named it Samuel.”, and continues in a mad rush that works and “Rats” by Z. Z. Boone (spoiler: the rats don’t make it).
Then I went back to Dan’s interview which mentions he has a new novel out this September (Await Your Reply) and I would be remiss not to point out here that there is a sort of tuckerization in there that will jump out to people that us and make them laugh.
In his interview, though, there’s a link to an essay published on The Rumpus, “What Happened to Sheila.” Which is heartbreaking and should be read. And there there’s a link to Sheila Schwartz’s novel Lies Will Take You Somewhere which came out in April from Etruscan Press and which PW called “a strong debut novel.”
For a taste of Sheila’s work I followed the link (still on Rumpus) to a story by her, “Three Cancer Patients Walk Into a Bar” which is tough and wickedly smart. Sheila’s writing is an acquired taste but it’s good, strong stuff and I recommend you give it a shot.