First off is a bit of a throwback - a dark psychological story called "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in 1892. We read it in school for our gothic literature unit, and unlike most of the other gothic short stories given to us, this one manages to be disturbing without supernatural elements. (Though Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" was brilliant.) The narrator's slow descent into insanity is chilling (made more so by the fact that she thinks she is completely stable) and a valuable lesson in narration/character development in a short story. There certainly isn't much plot, but the progression of the narrator's phases renders it almost unnecessary. Here's an excerpt from a description of the wallpaper itself:
It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide -- plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions."The Yellow Wallpaper" is available to read here.
Over at WhiskeyPaper, a new favorite literary magazine of mine, I enjoyed this set of three stories by Katie Cortese, consisting of "Camping Christopher Creek", "A Geologic Survey of Love", and "Mead or, Mulberry Wine?". Cortese has a keenly observant writing style that is believable at the same time, which I admired. She makes the most mundane places and people whisper with a crystalline beauty. My favorite sentence of all from these three is probably this one from "A Geologic Survey of Love":
He is a music major satisfying his science credit and cannot fathom what I love about the turgid origins of volcanoes and salt-glittering caves, the calamitous shifting of tectonic plates moving secretly, eternally, beneath our feet.Lackington's is a speculative prose magazine that I recently have been browsing through. One story, "Mon pays c'est l'hiver" by Amal El-Mohtar, really stuck out to me.
|The gorgeous accompanying illustration for the piece, done by Paula Arwen Friedlander.|
Home is the sharp sheet of a frozen sun against the eyes, the taste of cold air crackling into the throat, the solid stud of ice beneath boots, a musical weight in measured steps scraping the ground beneath them; home is the white whirl of a granulated sky spiralling against lips and cheeks, falling in small kisses against a wrist unguarded.Wow.
I really hope these three pieces light up your Friday and inspire you to scour the world for more great stories! Happy reading!