3rd March – Letter From A Drunk To A Long Gone Wife – Jack Marx

Read this after seeing the link and responses to the story on fellow Short Story Challenger, Jodi Cleghorn’s facebook note. Definitely a story that will divide opinion. This account of the effects of alcoholism on a young family, through the eyes of the alcoholic husband is a descent into darkness. The events of the story spiral down along with the main character and the reader’s sympathy ebbs away with each paragraph. Fair to say that every reader will finish the story having lost all sympathy for the narrator, the only question is when that happens in the course of the story.

The use of rhyme contrasts with the theme and tone of the story, creating a sing-song, almost nursery rhyme feel in places. This lighter element stands in stark contrast to the brutal and disturbing events later in the story and adds to the unreliable nature of the narrator. A challenging and dark piece of short fiction that I sure will hold up to re-reading.

4th March – Hibakusha – Tyler Keevil (Interzone #226)

I’m filtering in science fiction shorts every so often as I have a story idea I want to write in the genre. Hibukusha is an evocative, post-apocalyptic love story. Pacing and characterisation are both strengths of this story and Tyler Keevil is certainly a writer I am interested in reading more from. The main character, presented in a first person viewpoint, provides eyes for the reader to inhabit the world of the story, London in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. Like all the best sci-fi, Hibukusha is about more than ideas and the character’s quest, the driving force behind his entering the restricted zone of the city is a simple human desire. Definitely a story to return to and read again. Oh, and a fabulous and heart-breaking ending too.