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2011 Stories 59 - 61


I haven't been reading much short fiction lately. In fact, the three stories I'm about to comment on I actually read several weeks ago, and just haven't taken the time to write thoughts on.

All three come from the Fall 2010 issue of ICARUS: The magazine of gay speculative fiction.

59. Found at an Estate Sale by Thomas Fuchs  I'm not sure if this story counts as official "flash fiction" or not becuase I didn't count to see if it has less than 1,000 words. If it's not, it's close. The piece describes a series of five connected paintings in which a male couple (one older, one younger) slowly come together sexually but as the paintings become more sexual, they also become more obscured by a sunflower that grows to overtake the picture. I'm not sure I "got" it. Either it's too abstract for me, or I'm too dense for it.

60. A Nightmare on Elm Street, Park IX: Freddy vs. the Madsen Brothers by Viet Dinh This is one of those meta-genre stories that have been so popular since the first SCREAM movie: the main character charts his relationship with his older brother through the Nightmare on Elm Street movie series; by the end you are wondering if Freddy really is out to get the main character. I enjoyed the nostalgia of the piece, and I liked the way the author painted the main character's family struggles.

61. Stranger in Panama by Troy Carlyle This one really disturbed me.  What I liked about it was the author's ability to capture both a certain type of horror fiction and a certain place. I've always liked the type of horror fiction that starts out as a travelogue -- "I never imagined I'd find myself traveling," that sort of thing. The first person narrator feels the urge to over-describe his actions, his motiviations .... "getting it all down" seems important to him. In allowing the MC this type of voice, the author is able to also really nail the stifling nature of Central American jungle atmosphere. I felt over-heated, claustrophobic, slightly light-headed, while reading the story. So kudos to him for making me feel completely "within" the story. What disturbed me was the nature of the relationships at the center of the story -- and the fact that I was disturbed enough to walk away from the story but intrigued enough to go back and finish it and have it linger in my mind for days afterwards says that, as uncomfortable as the subject matter may be the author managed to create a story I could not simply forget.

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