Keith Lesmeister

Posts from the “Life as a Shorty” Category

Life as a Shorty: “Coyote” by Ryan Ridge, published in CHEAP POP

Posted on December 21, 2016

This week’s story comes from CHEAP POP, a literary journal dedicated to micro-fiction. You can read Ridge’s story here.   Ryan Ridge’s story, COYOTE, clocks in at 156 words. What can an author accomplish in this space? With so few words? Ridge captures something important here, no doubt, and while I want to point out some metaphor in the story, some critique on society and how society views those members who live on the fringes, I will refrain from doing so. Instead, let me ask you to take 2 minutes, read Ridge’s piece, and comment below. CHEAP POP promises “stories that, regardless of their short nature, stick with you.” Ridge’s story has really stuck with me. I’ve read it several times now. Give it…

Life as a Shorty: Roxane Gay’s story, “In the Event of my Father’s Death” reprinted in Vice Magazine

Posted on December 14, 2016

Read Roxane Gay’s story here. And check out my brief review below.   I’ve read several of Roxane Gay’s stories now – some online, one in Hobart, and another in Midwestern Gothic. Her stories are lean and powerful, taking residence in rural areas marked by cheating husbands and wives, cigarettes, sex, booze, and trailer homes located on large swaths of undeveloped land. “In the Event of my Father’s Death” is no different. In this story, a girl gets dragged along on weekend “fishing trips” to visit her father’s mistress. While the father and the mistress are busy in the bedroom, the girl is either in the living room listening or out roaming the countryside. And while the title tips us off to a major…

Life as a Shorty: two flash fiction pieces published in the museum of americana

Posted on December 7, 2016

the museum of americana is an online literary journal “dedicated to [work]…  that revives or repurposes the old, the dying, the forgotten, or the almost entirely unknown aspects of Americana.”   In their latest issue, they’ve published two heart-wrenching flash fiction pieces that you can read here.  My brief review below.   Here are two stories written by two authors — Peg Alford Pursell and Erin Armstrong — but are connected in feel and subject matter. Both have a sense of quiet longing or a sense of loss. The language and sentences work in harmony to create this lonely aura around each. Take for instance the first line in Pursell’s story: “The day after Christmas. Snowing. The countryside white. All the streets. Dark footprints led…

Life as a Shorty: “Legs” by Libby Flores, published in Tin House Open Bar

Posted on November 30, 2016

Libby’s story “Legs” clocks in at just over 100 words and will take you a minute or two to read. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll read it over and over again, trying to figure out how she accomplished this in so few words. Read Libby’s story here. And check out our interview below.   Keith Lesmeister: There’s a kind of sensual ache in “Legs,” maybe even a touch of desperation, but it’s not romantic in the least. And you accomplish all of this — this mood — in just over 100 words. I’m not sure what I’m asking here. I guess I want to know: how the hell did you do that?? Libby Flores: First off, thank you for those kind words. Truth…

Life as a Shorty: “Lesser Missiles” by Kathryn Savage, published in American Short Fiction

Posted on November 23, 2016

Read (or listen to) Kathryn’s wonderful story here.   And, check out Kathryn’s interview with ASF Online Fiction Editor Erin McReynold’s in which they discuss asteroids, writing, and books.   On the surface of Kathryn Savage’s story, “Lesser Missiles,” the narrator discusses her relationships with men — current lover, best friend, childhood crush, and another relationship which I won’t disclose here. But this is not a surface level story. Savage has created here an intimate, believable, voice — one with all the trepidation and hesitancy of a person who has experienced the kind of loss central to this story. There are few writers with this kind of steady control of voice and narrative structure, working together to create that envious alchemy that all story writers…

Life as a Shorty: “Left Leg, Just Above the Knee” by Jason Lee Brown, published in the Kenyon Review Online

Posted on November 16, 2016

Read “Left Leg, Just Above the Knee” here.   Jason Lee Brown was kind enough to answer a few questions about his story. He’s open to others if you have one of your own — feel free to leave your comment or question in the “comments” section below.   Keith Lesmeister: The opening line is a beauty, “Life would be livable if I could relieve this inner pull to amputate my left leg.” This sentence provides a sense of internal conflict, which starts the story in motion and drawing the reader in fully. It also introduces this distinct and unique voice — humorous, observant, and always honest. Could you discuss this narrative voice, perhaps offer a few thoughts about how it emerged.   Jason…

Life as a Shorty: the morning after

Posted on November 9, 2016

(NOTE: Life as a Shorty is a blog recognizing and celebrating short stories published in online journals. I usually post something every Wednesday. But instead of posting a story today, I want to share with you the following).   I’d been sipping whiskey all night, watching CNN, so when I woke up this morning I had a full bladder, a slight ache in my right shoulder from sleeping on it, a dry tongue, and a low-level headache. Nothing a strong cup of coffee couldn’t take care of. I walked into the living room where my youngest child was already on the couch, wrapped in a blanket. She’s eight and an early riser. I checked CNN.com, read the headlines, turned off the computer, hugged my youngest…

Life as a Shorty: “Toucan” by K.L. Browne, published at Ascent

Posted on November 2, 2016

Read Toucan here.   “Kristen and Lulu split the salmon and held hands as if they shared one cardiovascular system.”   This observation from the story’s protagonist, Carrie, a young woman who finds herself on the periphery of this (new) group dynamic, when just a couple of short years ago she and Lulu were best friends. But time, space, and circumstances have pulled them apart, emotionally. And now she finds herself out to dinner with four other women, three of whom are more or less strangers. K.L. Browne’s story is about the ways in which friendships/relationships evolve, those inevitable changes — some subtle, some life altering — and the way we act and react to those changes. There’s a sophisticated psychological component to this…

“Between Stars” by Benjamin Kolp, published in the Kenyon Review Online

Posted on October 26, 2016

Read Benjamin’s story here.   This is a short story about the relationships we have with one another and the grander world around us–a story of connection and loss. “Between Stars” expands and contracts, zooming in, zooming out — showing the contrast between what we’ve lost and what/who we keep close as a way of existing in a meaningful way, illumining our intimate connections with others. But what do those relationships mean against the grandness of all of this? This world, this atmosphere, this galaxy, and beyond — those places and spaces we have yet to define. And nothing promised to us, ever, except for this: “Given time, the sun burns out. The Earth’s orbit widens as the sun loses mass and the rock finds…