This week’s Top 5 is a day late because, frankly, I got caught up watching the Oscars. Fortunately, this week’s picks all have a certain cinematic quality to them that seems all the more appropriate to showcase. As always, these are not meant to be any kind of ranking, just pieces I think more people ought to read.
1. “For Good,” by Melissa Goodrich (University of Arizona)
Scene shifts can be difficult to pull off in fiction, but Goodrich manages to jump from room to room and from place to place in a way that reflects the tendency of our own thoughts to cut to spaces outside of ourselves. This story’s narrator exists both within her own body and everywhere around it. A solid study in interiority.
2. “Allowance,” by Raina Lauren Fields (Virginia Tech)
Here is a poem that breathes life into a single scene with some pretty harsh clarity. It’s as much about what’s said as what isn’t and it’s as much about what you can see as all the things just out of reach.
3. “When I Think About It, I Like the Phrase ‘Losing Touch’,” by Ezra Stewart-Silver (University of Florida)
Again, this is a poem that sets up a scene, one that’s elegant and simple. It’s a meditation on closeness and distance and how it is to go from one to the other, one made all the more poignant by the arm’s reach the reader is kept at by the language.
4. “Spring,” by Kirby Johnson (University of Alabama)
I love a story that can walk the line between realism and fantasy, one that understands the mutability of things and how our own perceptions can betray us. Here is a story about roaches and things that are not roaches and things that might as well be roaches.
5. “Broken English,” by Aaron Teel (Washington University in St. Louis)
Another piece of short-short fiction, this is fiction that reminds us how much things like plot and theme can be expressed just through description. Teel gives us a strange and familiar (strangely familiar?) world and then offers us consequences that seem perfectly natural. Under the circumstances, that is.