Together We Can Bury It featured at Blue Fifth Review / Workshop Update

my books deskWoke up to a lovely surprise this morning. The editors of Blue Fifth Review have featured excerpts from my collection, Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012), along with gorgeous excerpts from Barbara Jane Reyes’ Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005) and Evie Shockley’s a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006) as part of their Blue Fifth Reviews for the month of July. Very honored. Thanks to Sam Rasnake and Michelle Elvy. You can find the featured works here:

Blue Fifth Reviews (July 2015/#2).

Regarding the Fast Flash© Workshops: I want to make sign ups and payment easy for workshop attendees, so I realized I need to upgrade my website to do so! I am in the process of changing this site over and hope to have it done soon. I’m going to run workshops in August, September, and October to accommodate everyone who expressed interest. Please stay tuned as I get everything organized and in place. I’m so excited to get started!

All best to everyone and have a wonderful last day of July. Enjoy that beautiful blue moon! full moon

Mothra, Sidereal, Kindling

mothraThese seem more like prose poetry, or hybrid pieces anyway:

Mothra

Her brother returned late at night. He opened his arms, showering her bed with wrapped and tied things. His face in the TV light dissolving, reconstituting. I’ve seen this one, he said. And she told him don’t leave, I’ll change it! Her hands in a panic, feeling all over, knocking things off.

Sidereal

When they were young, their father sent mittens in red and green, forgetting it was summer there and that their hands had become large and grasping. And that now they ran shirtless like pagans under southern stars. They took his gifts and dressed up the tree like a sentry, a monster with four hands.

Kindling

Her brother said careful, the snow globe! And as he moved his arms and legs broke off, broke apart, like kindling. The fine bones of his hands spidered across the floor. Gathered like that.

*Thanks, as ever, to Sam Rasnake for publishing this piece originally in Blue Fifth Review.

Good things galore!

I know. I’m sorry I’ve left this blog untended. I had surgery Sept. 12th and I’m in recuperation mode. Recuperation mode is really nice at first until one starts to go seriously stir crazy. But I’m doing well and getting stronger every day and I really, really, don’t want anything to do with hospitals for a long time to come.

Doll PalaceOk, enough about that. I have good things to report. First, my review of Sara Lippmann’s fantastic short story collection, DOLL PALACE, is now up at The Lit Pub blog. Here’s an excerpt:

“These are stories filled with talk, conversations, recitations, memories, flirtations (often dangerous ones) and hard-won epiphanies I think what I love best about these stories though is their refusal to dot every i. There are no simple answers and lessons aren’t always learned. A deft writer, Lippmann displays control over her narratives even as she achieves a certain wildness and strangeness that both fascinates and feels entirely true. I love the fearlessness of these stories (see “Target Girl” and “Everyone Has Your Best Interests at Heart” and “Babydollz” and “Talisman”among others).”

One cool aspect of recommending books at The Lit Pub blog is that you’re asked to suggest other books readers might enjoy (that are similar in some way to the book you’re recommending), and I was happy to suggest Pia Ehrhardt’s Famous Fathers and Other Stories, Emma Straub’s Other People We Married, Amy Hempel’s Tumble Home, and Rachel Sherman’s The First Hurt. (I noticed later that Rachel Sherman actually wrote a blurb for Sara’s book, which is perfect.)

So. Just get this book. The stories are superb and Sara Lippmann is a terrific writer and human being. One of the kindest people I know in the lit world or any world. And oh, Dock Street Press is exceptional.

The other good news I have is that my short story, “The Wide and Lonely World” has been accepted! I was solicited to send something and did and hadn’t heard back for awhile so assumed they didn’t want the story (writers, you know the feeling), but yay, they liked it a lot and I’ll post a link and more info when the story’s up. I’m delighted. This is a story I messed with for so long, not quite knowing why it wasn’t working for me, until one day I gave myself the challenge of cutting it by 50%. Crazy! So I cut it from 5,000 words to 2,500, which required huge objectivity and mercilessness, but I did it, and the story is much better for the cutting I do believe.

And! I was surprised and thrilled that Blue Fifth Review nominated my story, “The Blue of Milk” for Best of the Net 2014. It’s a story I really liked but felt shy about sending out into the world. I’m very honored and cheered by Sam Rasnake and Michelle Elvy’s confidence in and support of the story. I posted it here awhile back.

Lastly, the website for the new MFA program that I’ll be teaching flash fiction for will be up and running soon and I’ll post a link to it here when it is. I’m VERY excited about this and proud to be a part of it. More to come!

Flash Fiction: The Blue of Milk

Asked by the editors of Blue Fifth Review to comment on the writing of this piece, I said, “La lecture huile sur toile is such a beautiful and ghostly painting. It evoked in me a terrible sense of loneliness. From that feeling, I created this gauzy scene with two characters: A naked woman walking in the moonlight and a small boy trailing behind her, dragging a white blanket. I wrote various observers into the story and finally settled on a man walking his dog. I wrote the story with the repetitions and flow the way it felt and sounded to my ear. Later, in revision, I found myself trying to wrestle the story from its strangeness into something safer, but it just wouldn’t take. I wrote a new ending, went deeper into the strangeness, and finally the story felt exactly true and right.”

The Blue of Milk*

There was a woman who went to the park at night and swung on the swings and drank from a bottle in a paper bag. When she became dizzy she would stand and remove her clothes and walk the perimeter of the park singing low.

There was a man who walked his dog, who saw her, but kept to the other side of the street and never entered the park. When the moon was out and shining she looked blue he thought a naked blue or silver or the blue of milk but he tried not to look at her.

There was a small child who lay in bed waiting for his mother to return. He decided one night to follow her.

The man saw the boy trailing far behind the woman. The boy dragged a blanket. The man kept to the other side of the street and didn’t enter the park.

All the nights after this were the same with the woman taking off all her clothes and circling the park and drinking from the bottle in the bag and the boy trailing behind like a ghost and the man walking his dog and seeing them both but keeping to the other side of the street and not entering the park or calling out to the woman and the boy.

The nights grew colder. The woman persisted with taking off her clothes and the boy persisted with following her in just his thin pajamas and the man persisted in walking his dog but the man began wearing a coat and the dog too wore a coat that matched the man’s.

One night the man’s dog, a terrier growing old and blind, started to bark at the woman as she passed by and the woman and the boy trailing behind her were startled and for the first time noticed the man and his dog and the woman stopped and the boy stopped and the woman cried out and the terrier strained at his leash and the man felt now he had no choice but to cross the street and enter the park and apologize for his dog and get the woman to put on her clothes and maybe help her and her son back to their house and God knows what else but now he probably had to do something as they had both seen him.

The terrier stopped barking and the man bent to pick him up as he crossed the street and entered the park and approached the woman who was crying and patting the head of the boy whose arms were wrapped around her naked legs.

The man said I apologize if my dog frightened you I don’t know what got into him but see he’s very sweet really and you can pet him if you’d like. The man knelt and the boy reached out his hand to let the terrier smell it. Both the boy and the woman petted the terrier and let him lick their hands and the man tried not to look at the woman.

Ma’am he said you seem to have misplaced your clothes can I help you find them? The boy looked up to his mother now embarrassed but the mother only said yes let’s find my clothes and she set down the bag with the bottle in it in such a way that it would not tip over.

Her clothes lay on the ground near the swings and the woman pulled them on. They were only pajamas and it had gotten quite cold now and the man took off his coat and put it over the woman’s shoulders and his stocking cap he put on the boy’s head and now everybody looked quite normal and it seemed okay to walk them home which he offered to do.

It turned out that the woman and the boy lived not far from where the man lived, on his own with the terrier, though he’d never seen them during the day or any other place in the neighborhood. She asked him to come inside and she would make them all tea but she was unsteady on her feet. She said this is our abode and it sounded like a warble and she made a sweeping gesture with her arm and the boy started to cry. She went to the kitchen and the man sat down with his terrier on his lap and the boy lay on the floor with the blanket knotted in his fist.

The woman brought a cup of water with a tea bag in it but the water had not been heated. The man watched the brown color of the tea swirl slowly into the clear water and said I would like to help you if I can do you need some money or food do you have a job what can I do? The woman said there is nothing to be done or said we are fine you finish your tea and go please. The boy dragged his blanket to the other room and the woman said we need to sleep now and she came to the man with the terrier on his lap and gave him a kiss on the cheek. The man could see her breast through the opening in her pajamas and he touched it and mouthed it and she let him and she liked it and this is how they were for some time, the woman bent to the man, the long strands of her hair falling onto the little dog’s head and over his blind eyes, in the quiet of the woman’s abode.

*originally published in Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series, in response to la lecture huile sur toile by Francis Denis. Thanks to Sam Rasnake and Michelle Elvy for inviting me to contribute.

Some very kind reviews for Together We Can Bury It…

my copies of TWCBI

I’m very grateful for the kind reviews I’ve received so far for my recently re-issued flash/short story collection on Goodreads, NANOfiction, Fictionaut, and elsewhere. Here is a sampling:

“Most of what I know about flash fiction I learned from reading Kathy Fish’s work. She’s a consummate master of the short form, and I’m so glad Lit Pub ran a second printing of this collection. These are the sort of stories that deepen and intensify with each rereading. Keep them close at hand.” Ravi Mangla, author of Understudies Goodreads

“This book is a Bible of the short form, meant to be savored then reread again and again. No one does compressed fiction like Kathy Fish. Her precision is unparalleled. Every detail, every line, every word does double, triple duty. Every beat is flawless. The stories in this stunning collection brim with such fullness and depth, they will break you up and cut you down – and leave you utterly mystified, wondering about the lives of these characters long after you finish reading. How does she accomplish all this in so few words? There lies the astounding genius of Kathy Fish.” Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace 

“So much attention is paid to the lyricism in each of the stories that a reader can’t help but find the beauty in each scene and through each character’s perspective no matter how familiar or mundane it may at first seem. There are so many examples of this lyricism at play in the collection but the language in “Rodney and Chelsea” stood out to me the most. In this story, the two titular characters, teen neighbors, are about to engage in their first sexual experience together. It’s a moment of great anticipation and anxiety, yet the narrative sweeps around them meticulously, not only registering their expressions and subtle movements, but their life histories, the space they share living next door to each other, and essential connections they share with family, friends, and neighbors. The entire moment is exquisitely rendered in just four pages, and it’s such a virtuoso accomplishment of prosody that I had to reread it twice more just before I could move on.” Peter Fontaine, NANOfiction NANOfiction

“If I were teaching a course in the form of very short fiction (not all of these stories are very short), I would certainly put Kathy Fish’s collection on my syllabus. In fact, I might just teach a course because I’ve read her collection. In sudden fiction, the writer/reader has no space for meandering or groping through the narrative for a story. Each move must stick, and in Fish’s stories every move does. Each beginning draws the reader in, and every ending satisfies. The middle is bursting with realism that does not seem constructed to be realism; it feels real and, yes, meaty.” Christopher Allen, author of Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (A Satire) Books at Fictionaut

“Fish’s writing is like a light gleaming up from the bottom of the lake, distorting itself as refracted waves curl or undulate. Her characters ring true yet they keep an appropriate aloofness. We both feel as if we know these people, as if they are friends or acquaintances in our own lives, yet it is often like we are watching these friends behave badly on screen so that we’re powerless to intervene.” Len Kuntz, author of The Dark Sunshine and forthcoming, I’m Not Supposed to Be Here and Neither Are You People You Know By Heart

“Read this on a train back to Baltimore. On the train were people in McDonalds uniforms making loud and beautiful jokes because they’d stolen a bunch of mayonnaise. If inside a jar of stolen mayonnaise you found a tiny Nina Simone singing her cover of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” and you get to the part where she goes “Well that’s it folks, that’s it,” you would actually be getting to the sad and wan stories in this collection. And then this book sneaks the mayo back to where it stole it from, but it listens to Nina Simone on its off-brand MP3 player while drinking ginger ale at the mall, just wandering and wandering and remembering and trying not to regret anything.” Mike Young, author of Look! Look! Feathers! and Who Can Make It Big Noö Journal

“The worlds in this collection are often a little lopsided, a little worn, sometimes dark and piercing, yet always beautiful in one way or another. They never tip over into sentimentalism or conceit and give the feeling that anything can happen, good and bad. But whatever does happen, you know it will be brave and honest, in the most human sense of the word.” Berit Ellingsen, author of Beneath the Liquid Skin Berit Ellingsen’s blog

“A sweepingly excellent collection of 40 stories, a sort of retrospecticus of Kathy Fish’s writing career so far. Everything about this book is well-done…The stories themselves: amazing. There’s no filler: every story is aching and gorgeous.” Kevin Fanning, author of Jennifer Love Hewitt Times Infinity Goodreads

“These stories possess a clear and believable voice that is at home in the company of Lydia Davis, Russell Edson, Kim Chinquee. Fish breathes life to the page, so much so, the characters and actions stay with the reader long after the book is closed…The book is filled with so many strange and amazing moments the reader cannot avoid becoming a part of the lives and choices and passions discovered in it. This can only happen when the writing is of the highest quality and a true pleasure to read. “Highest quality” is the perfect descriptive for Together We Can Bury It – a collection that should not be missed.” Sam Rasnake, author of Cinéma Vérité and Inside a Broken Clock Used Furniture Review

“Kathy Fish’s Together We Can Bury It is so creative and beautifully written, it’s hard not to marvel at the richness in each of the pieces.” Peter Tieryas, author of Bald New World and Watering Heaven The Whimsy of Creation

“Within, you will find stories that will touch you, leave you breathless, make you laugh, make your heart ache. You will run the gamut of emotions–I promise you that–and you will find yourself living in the moment of these stories as filled with despair and hope as many of the characters are, waiting for change that may never come, but always waiting, never giving up.” Myfanwy Collins, author of Echolocation and I Am Holding Your Hand and forthcoming, The Book of Laney Myfanwy Collins’ blog

“There’s a movie’s worth of character and plot and insight in every blooming one of these short fictions. I finished this book feeling stuffed, dazed, and amazed by how much Kathy Fish gets done in such tight spaces. It’s a thrill to be privy to what she thinks about, the wonder she carries inside.” Pia Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers Goodreads

“Some authors have a way of mak
ing a reader forget the world, forget that she’s reading, allowing pure enjoyment of the art of story. This is especially difficult to pull off with reading author/teachers. We feel the pull to be critical, cautious, and read with our defenses up, ready to find something that jostles us from the narrative. Very few authors have the ability to make such a reader forget, and even fewer flash fiction and short fiction writers have this ability because the form means creating numerous worlds and engaging the reader wholly again with each new story. Some authors can do it, though. Kathy Fish is one. This book is a gift for a reader like me.” Jen Knox, author of Musical Chairs and To Begin Again Goodreads

“Beautiful collection by a master of the flash fiction form. These stories pack more loneliness, heartbreak, and despair into smaller spaces than ought to be possible, given the laws of narrative physics. But as one of Kathy Fish’s characters tells us: “this is an infinite universe and in an infinite universe all things are mathematically possible.” And yet, I still don’t know how she does it.” Mary Lynn Reed Goodreads

“1. I LOVE these stories. “Skinny Lullaby at the Lizard Lounge: Schenectady” where she writes: “The lady on the stage is skinny-singing something Joni Mitchell. We drink fuzzy navels. Get sleepy. Slide into each other like river otters.” I really LOVE “Snow” and “Wake Up” and “Be My Be My Baby” and “This is Dwight” and “Lens” and “Orlando” and “Tenderoni.” What I’m trying to say is that I love them all.
2. I love how Kathy Fish writes about: men & women, snow, food, cocktails, homes and music.
3. I love how Kathy Fish describes colors.
4. My husband is a VERY persnickety reader. I read a lot of these little stories aloud to him and he loved them as much as I do.
5. And I don’t feel this way about all stories/books I read but Kathy’s stories make me want to WRITE. And that’s probably my favorite thing about all of them.” Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Every Kiss a War Goodreads

2013: Beautiful Books by People I Know

I’ve been bad about writing reviews in 2013. I’ve read so many good books and most were by writers I’m lucky enough to know, either well or fleetingly on social media. Anyway, I do HIGHLY recommend these books and the work of all of these writers and their disparate and necessary voices (I’ve also read & blurbed a number of incredible books forthcoming in 2014, but I’ll write about them later):

“The Merrill Diaries” (a flash novel) by Susan Tepper

“The Tide King” (novel) by Jen Michalski

“Cinéma Vérité” (poetry collection) by Sam Rasnake

“All The Roads That Lead From Home” (collection) by Anne Leigh Parrish

“Beyond Blue” (collection) by Meg Tuite

“Microtones” (collection) by Robert Vaughan

“The Virgins” (novel) by Pamela Erens

“Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise” (collection) by Justin Daugherty

“Musical Chairs” (memoir) by Jen Knox

“Watering Heaven” (collection) by Peter Tieryas

“Is That You, John Wayne?” (collection) by Scott Garson

“Conversations with S. Teri O’Type” (collection) by Christopher Allen

“May We Shed These Human Bodies” (collection) by Amber Sparks

“Magical Neon Sexuality” (collection) by Kevin Fanning

“Thank You for Your Sperm” (collection) by Marcus Speh

“The Whack-Job Girls” (collection) by Bonnie ZoBell

Also, read late 2012, but I wanted to mention again: “Beneath the Liquid Skin” by Berit Ellingsen. Another book I read and blurbed in August, 2012 but that was actually published in 2013 was Myfanwy Collins’ short story collection, “I Am Holding Your Hand.” These are both great collections I recommend highly as well!

Into and Out of the Wild–My final post at Necessary Fiction

Necessary Fiction.

Appalachian Silence among the Dark Selves – Sam Rasnake

I posted these poems on Christmas Eve at Necessary Fiction because they felt right, not in a religious sense, but in the feel and tone of solemnity that I get from Sam Rasnake’s poetry, particularly this Appalachian suite. Be sure to check out the youtube links at the bottom of the page. The musical choices compliment the poems so perfectly:

Necessary Fiction.

There’s more to come in my last days as writer-in-residence at NF. I have loved this opportunity to share such brilliant writing. I’m working on something to post, of my own, on New Year’s eve along with some great, wild photographs. Stay tuned!