Jan/Feb 2009

e c l e c t i c a
f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Semolinian Equinox

"Taboo words are inseparable from the language," the dictionary preface says. "Their artificial banning leads to the language's impoverishment. It is widely believed that Anglo-Saxon vulgarisms denoting male and female genitals are the true aristocracy of the language."

Svetlana Lavochkina

Sexy, Hot, Sad, Tragic, Accident

She smoked because smoking was cool. She drank because drinking was cool. She told dead baby jokes, and she lost her virginity in an alley behind a Safeway. She made people call her Em. She liked to be liked.

Krishan Coupland


Cornbread in cast iron. Sweet milk and curtains of print dresses. Shrouds of leathered hands and boots. The turn of a ragged guitar formed in blistered wood. Girls manic and peppered, running in and out of themselves. Men with beards and gaping teeth. Women as geese flocking and tittering. Boys like windblown seeds scattered in edges.

J. A. Tyler


In either case, it is the little-understood language that causes misery. Perhaps that is the reason why, when the American recited bismillah arahman arrahim (in the name of Allah, the Merciful) and a couple of other expressions (which I did not understand) in Arabic, the empty semantics echoed like a suppressed shriek all over the room.

Abbas Zaidi

Late Train to Brooklyn

I worked with Irene nightly. Her body garbed in black, those sturdy legs plodding from table to table, the oversized teeth and swollen red gums. Ugly, I kept telling myself. Yet every time she passed by the bar and wrapped her knuckles on the wood, I smiled.

James Schlatter

Good Wine

My mother dressed me in the robe of dark red silk, the color of good wine, the same robe that she had worn on her own wedding day. Like a crust of dried honey, the gold embroidery clung to it. Heavy, I felt my limbs sink under its weight as if I were being pressed into the ground.

Grace Andreacchi

The After Party

We drove out of the neighborhood in my aunt's scratch-free black Cadillac, melon-colored leather seats, ashtrays hidden in the doors, down the hill past hedges dried out from summer heat.

Jessica Keener

Three Fish, Gin, Wild Plums

"Shall we have something to drink?" said John, and he felt reckless for saying it. "We have some gin."

Louis Malloy

For Lack of White Robes

The guy who would later shoot me lauded my effort—"What a gentleman!" he said—but I would never know if he meant it or not, although I would wager that the overture was fake.

Wade Hartel


It's more a general decrepitude, at this point, rather than anything specific. Though there are definitely specifics, beginning, I suppose, with diapers. Going on to diagnoses. And from there to lies (hardly white, but told out of the desire to protect, nonetheless). On to love.

Anne Germanacos