I was ecstatic to find out that Jonathan Cardew published a debut microfiction collection, A World Beyond Cardboard (ELJ Editions, 2022). I have been following his writing for years and greatly admire his talent of creating memorable short fiction.
Cardew’s use of flawless language persuasively depicts the mythical with cleverness, the absurd in times of hardships, and the potential for menace within families and fractured relationships. The ingenious story, “A World Beyond Cardboard,” illustrates how this writer can accomplish more with a few short lines than another writer may try to convey in a paragraph. For instance, when the heartsick children watch their father drink coffee at a cafe, Cardew reveals just how lost these characters are:
Dad slowed down.
Each of his sips was a journey.
We hung off each one, hoping he would say something of substance.
In fact, I read outloud this particular story to another person (who is not a regular reader of fiction) and she was very moved by this gem, how it lands with its stunning last line. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement for Cardew’s galactic talent, I don’t know what else is?
And I marvel at Cardew’s skillful and imaginative descriptive writing. Note the following lines: “Their bodies like a curtain’s hem, fluttering in the foreign air”; “The pigeon walked around like it had its hands in its pockets”; “Her eyes are full of pupil.”
This stellar chapbook, containing twelve tiny stories brimming with artistry, has become one of the staples in my library. I find myself returning to it again and again, both for the sheer enjoyment of Cardew’s storytelling and for my ongoing study of this master’s expertise with this form.
To order your copy: https://elj-editions.com/jonathan-cardew/
Dan Crawley is the author of the novella Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) and the short story collection The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021). His writing appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including JMWW, Lost Balloon, North American Review, SmokeLong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years 2003-2013, Wigleaf, Quarterly West, and Atticus Review. He is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts creative writing fellowship. Also, he is a two-time Best Small Fictions nominee, a two-time Best of the Net nominee, a Best Microfiction nominee, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and appears on the Wigleaf Top 50 longlist (2019, 2021, 2022). His work won a Bath Flash Fiction Award 2019 Novella-in-Flash highly commended prize. Recently, he was a Contributing Editor for Best Microfiction, a guest judge for The Sunlight Press Spring 2021 Flash Fiction Contest, and a Little Patuxent Review fiction reader.