Monday Jun 24

JonathanCardew 2016a What I love most about my role at Connotation Press are the gems I find in my submission queue over and over again. Some of these gems are familiar--in terms of content or because they have been penned by a writer I know--while others are completely unexpected. The following five pieces, I feel, possess that level of surprise I so crave in my fiction. It could be the surprising language and logic, as in Dan Nielsen’s and Agnes Marton’s equally riotous and strange stories, ‘If There Were a Tunnel Through the Planet it Would Whistle’ and Marina di San Cresci.’ Or it could be a surprising dream-like quality, prose that ebbs and flows like the sea, as in Mehreen Ahmed’s “Backstage.” What surprised me the most about Francis Duffy’s story, “Volunteer,” was how vividly he drew the military training scenes (scenes at once familiar from representations in film, yet so strange in Duffy’s crystal-clear telling). Then we arrive at Jayne Martin’s powerful, “Predator.” A piece sadly so familiar to us from the news (yet so fresh and affecting in Martin’s portrayal).

Overall, what ties these stories together the most is the quality of the prose and the expert handling of narrative structure—each in their own particular way.

Please enjoy the September Fiction Issue! And thanks for reading!

Featured Writer: Mehreen Ahmed

Dinnertime was quiet. Soup. Watery soup and a few measly pieces of meat afloat. I break a piece from the corner of my bread. My sister does the same from the other end. Mum and dad look on. They pick up scraps from the table. There’s no more bread left. Dad has not been paid for the work he did. His employer went bankrupt. The carpenter hasn’t been paid. Dip your bread not in wine but in water. Lo! The fury of the ocean. The sound and the fury. Waves overlapping, layer upon layer. The ocean couldn’t be contained. Mehreen Ahmed, ‘Backstage’

Featured Writer: Dan Nielsen

Garret broke four eggs into a bowl, added salt, pepper, grated Parmesan, and a dollop of cream. He whisked this until it was a yellow bubbling froth and poured it slowly into a preheated skillet coated in melted better. Allowing a moment for everything to set, he sipped whiskey over ice through a red plastic straw. Garret owned three plastic straws. The other two were blue. One was bendy. Garret was proud of his straws. Dan Nielsen, If There Were a Tunnel Through the Planet it Would Whistle’    

Agnes Marton

A couple of months ago I skimmed through an article in the Morning Sunshine. A shipping company nearby Vufflens-la-Ville started focusing on mindfulness. You might decide to visit an ex-hangar of theirs where you are encouraged to destroy fridges and microwave ovens with a baseball bat. According to sophrologist Juniper Dowen it’s the path to the peaceful soul. I would never descend to this (never say never; a performance maybe? without helmet?) but it became my recurring dream. I fought duels against creaking cellarets and floral hand-hooked rag ottomans. They kept their end up. They grew poison-fangs, they punched me, they caused cerebral concussion to me, their repertoire was illimitable.” -- Agnes Marton, ‘Marina di San Cresci

Jayne Martin

“Before you stand next to your attorney behind the bank of microphones on the courthouse steps, drop your daughter off at school. Gather her in your arms; breathe in her scent – baby roses, baby powder, baby toes. Kiss her good-bye, watch until she disappears into the mouth of the stone building, drive away just like any other day.” Jayne Martin, ‘Predator’

Francis Duffy

While in line I’m counting heads in the rival queue, keen to assess the foe I’ll battle. Many faces there are counting noggins in my queue. All dread sparring with brutes like the volunteer. He has a flared-nostril zeal that may earn him combat medals. Or get comrades killed charging insane odds. My foe is my equal. Both ignore the technique we’ve been taught in favor of flails like girls swatting with purses. The instructor is appalled: ‘You pukes get outta my sight.’ Thus ends our bayonet training. Didn’t get to jab straw men with real bayonets. Francis Duffy, ‘Volunteer