Series Curator: Jonathan Cardew
August Selector: Tommy Dean
What’s rare, what’s bright, what’s new?
This is what we ask a new writer every month in search of the best hybrid, poetry, and flash writing from the previous month. In this edition, we catch up with Fractured Lit editor, Tommy Dean!
Tommy gives us a little selection of his favorite writing from July 2020:
This month has been about doing the reading that takes me to a new place, pushes me out of my comfort zone, provides a new understanding of people and culture, and pushes my empathy toward new angles.
“It’s 5am-Ish, And My Father Tells Me A Story From His Time In Singapore” by Exodus Oktavia Brownlow
Who doesn’t love a title that draws you in, and starts the process of wonder? Exodus Brownlee always imbues her writing with such verb, it’s hard not to read her work without joy even when the subject matter is sobering in its hard truths. This story is about the revelations that parents keep to themselves until they can be unleashed in a moment of bravery, confusion or an uneasy silence. I love stories that hinge on older children learning something new about their parents. A secret that reveals more of their character, that reveals who we are when we open up about our pasts. Come for the themes here, but stay for the smooth prose!
“Parting” by Noa Covo
Covo’s skill with brevity and resonance is a force for great literature. It may have been rare to find a writer so young who writes with such deliberate truth and resonance, but not anymore. Covo’s use of metaphor and pacing commands the readers attention with her vision of the natural world and how we relate to it as we bumble through our own lives. A nursery rhyme for the modern ages!
“A Small lesson on Loitering” by Davon Loeb
Loeb leads us gently but resolutely into the world of race and bias, the sins of our history unfolding in real time as we are confronted with a situation we should all be aware of. Loeb’s impatience at 17 is the specific feeling of being young and free, and wishing to not have to worry about the barriers of the outside world. Loeb’s patience in using concrete, specific details to portray his mother and his love for her as well as his readiness to face the world are resonant and universal. An opportunity bared on the page for most readers to experience something outside of their usual milieu. With what I hope is a reckoning.
“The Madwoman on BART” by Jacqueline Doyle
I love when real life obsessions mix with real life experiences. How it can feel like kismet when reading about birds one catches a glimpse of blue jays tussling on the skinny arm of a tree. Here Doyle mixes the reading of biographies of women who are as she puts it are “madwomen who also died in mental asylums” with the appearance of a mentally ill woman in the subway. Doyle finds a new appreciation for this woman, for her kaleidoscope of desires sliding through her lips in unintelligible screams. I love how Doyle forces us to really look at this woman, to get past the possible violence and start to rev up the creaky engines of our empathy to attempt to see the woman she was, is, and the people we were, and the people we might become.
“Tagged” by Vanessa Chan
There’s lots of ways that literature deals with the theme and feelings after a death, but Chan creates a true sentiment by focusing the story on a small imperfection of her narrator’s body. How often do we search for a chance at regaining control? A worrying over the body, of our bodies while we still live is an idiosyncratic way of exerting control that though specific tends to feed into our universal understanding of what it means to be human. Here’s is a narrator trying to be fully alive in their breath, in their worry, in their grief. Read this and you will feel something. The numbness creeps in, but this is a lifeboat.
Tommy Dean is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. His chapbook, Covenants is forthcoming from ELJ in 2021. He is the Editor at Fractured Lit. He has been previously published in the BULL Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux Review, New World Writing, Pithead Chapel, and New Flash Fiction Review. His flash has been included in Best Microfiction 2019 and 2020 and the Best Small Fiction 2019. He won the 2019 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction. For more information check out www.tommydeanwriter.com.
Jonathan Cardew won a travel toothbrush at a boules competition in northern Brittany. His stories appear in Passages North, Cream City Review, wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, Superstition Review, Best Microfiction 2021, and others. He is the author of A WORLD BEYOND CARDBOARD (ELJ Editions) and the blog editor for Bending Genres. Ignore him on Twitter @cardewjcardew.