The Masters Review Blog

Mar 25

New Voices: “A Sick Child” by Dustin M. Hoffman

Today, we are excited to welcome another story from Dustin M. Hoffman to The Masters Review’s family. Hoffman’s story “Almost Touching, Almost Free” was selected by AM Homes for The Masters Review Anthology in 2013. Settle in now for the magical, weird “A Sick Child,” a story of trial and perseverance.

Though she had no talent in the mystical arts, she was believed. Everyone trusts a sickly woman’s mysticism. Her most popular product was foretelling a villager’s demise. She invented beautiful deaths for each one.

Naomi was a sick child, she was told. From birth, her mother and father bid her safe travels to the afterlife every time they lowered her shriveled infant body into the cradle. She’d surely die of the plague, like most the village did. She’d die fast as any, they told her, for her sick stretched down to the bones. Probably deeper—a crippling, blackened snarl shooting straight from her soul. So, she learned to walk counting to last steps, learned to talk in rasps and coughs. She leaned into a limp, and by thirteen she hobbled to the swamp and mingled with the toads. She’d lie on the soft loam and let them croak atop her bare feet and arms and face, and when warts sprouted by the dozens, she wasn’t unpleased. The villagers were sure the plague had finally taken hold, bursting through her skin.

By fourteen, she spent days at the swamp practicing lying still as death, so still the magpies swooped then circled then landed upon her and built nests in the crooks of her limbs. She tested her death mimicry, letting elbows and armpits and finger webbings brim with their thatched bramble nests. Their claws hooked her skin and drew blood, and she waited for them to mince her body into carrion. Yet still, sickly Naomi didn’t die. Instead, eggs hatched in her arms. This was the first promise of life she’d ever known, and she wanted more than anything to satisfy the hatchlings’ chirping hunger. She walked the village streets adorned in nests, the parliament of magpies escorting her in a dark cloud, a sure signal to the villagers that the plague had arrived.

To continue reading “A Sick Child” click here.

Mar 22

Can’t Miss AWP Panels

Next week is AWP! This year’s conference is taking place in our backyard, and we couldn’t be more excited. Stop by and visit us at booth 1056. There are so many excellent panels this year, and we’ve curated a list of a few each day that you should definitely check out. Take a peek below!

THURSDAY:

How to Win a Writing Fellowship

D131-132, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
9:00 am to 10:15 am

Winners of National Endowment, Fulbright, and other state funding discuss techniques for putting together a manuscript, writing an artist’s statement and soliciting recommendations in order to receive fellowships. Moderated by Thaddeus Rutkowski, Ava Chin, Janet Kaplan, Tim Keane, and Pedro Ponce.

Literary Agents 101: Insights and Tools for the Business of Writing

Portland Ballroom 255, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, March 28, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

Curious about the publishing process from the perspective of an agent? Literary agents discuss the dos and don’ts of approaching agents. Moderated by Libby Burton, Sarah Levitt, Monika Woods, Serene Hakim, and Julia Kardon.

Crafting the Short Form

E146, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Put together by Sarabande, this panel will discuss aspects of constructing short form literature, from beginnings and endings, to white space, to structure and everything in between. Moderated by Kristen Renee Miller, Kimiko Hahn, Elena Passarello, Nona Caspers, and James Richardson.

The Future is Fabulist: Crafting Fantastic Fiction at the Margins

C125-126, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

This panel will explore whether embracing the unreal can help writers at the margins tell stories that are true to their experiences. Moderated by Amira Pierce, R. Lemberg, Melissa R. Sipin, Brooke C. Obie, and Richard Scott Larson.

FRIDAY:

Grandmasters of Flash: They Wrote the Book on It!

A107-109, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

The Masters Review’s Flash Fiction contest is rapidly approaching. This panel discussing theory and craft of flash fiction will be perfect for you to prepare your micros for submission! Moderated by David Galef, John Dufresne, Nancy Stohlman, and Randall Brown.

The Art of the Book Review

B110-112, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Interested in writing a book review for The Masters Review? Check out this panel on how to nail that critique. Moderated by Joseph Salvatore, Carolyn Kellogg, Gabino Iglesias, Scott Esposito, and Siddharta Deb.

Monsters, Marvels, & Melanin: A Discussion of Black Speculative Fiction

F149, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

A panel focused on Black speculative fiction? Sign us up. Five authors discuss how the genre can be used “to translate the experience of those from the African diaspora.” Moderated by Kat Lewis, Sean Smith, Yona Harvey, Gary Jackson, and Elwin Michael Cotman.

SATURDAY:

Trust Falls: The Editor/Author Relationship

D131-132, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
9:00 am to 10:15 am

Author and Editor pairs discuss their working relationship, designed to help authors know what to expect from the process. Moderated by Erin Calligan Mooney, Vivian Lee, Matthew Salesse, Kristen Arnett, and Tony Perez.

Flash Fiction Exercises that Work from Award-Winning Masters of the Form

A103-104, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Another panel about the flash form. (We really want you to submit to this contest, if you haven’t noticed.) This panel will discuss exercises, so if you need inspiration, stop on by. Moderated by Venita Blackburn, Anthony Varallo, Kim Chinquee, Sherrie Flick, and Genevieve Plunkett.

Unrealism: The True Art of Fantastic Fiction

Oregon Ballroom 201-202, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Saturday, March 30, 2019
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

This panel will discuss “the unreality of reality” and how fantastical fiction models our experiences in the real world. Moderated by Ethan Nosowsky, Kathryn Davis, Mark Doten, Carmen Maria Machado, and Lucy Corin.

For a full list of AWP panels, check out the official website.

Mar 21

Last 10 Days: The Masters Review Anthology Volume VIII – $5000 Awarded!

We are in the home stretch! You only have 10 more days to polish those drafts and submit for your chance to be included in The Masters Review Anthology Volume VIII. Kate Bernheimer is standing by to select the 10 best submissions for this year’s anthology. Take advantage of these final days and utilize our Editorial Letter option to get in-depth feedback on your writing. Read all about the anthology here, and submit by March 31!

 

GUIDELINES:
  • Previously unpublished works of fiction and narrative nonfiction only
  • Up to 7000 words
  • We accept simultaneous submissions as long as work is withdrawn if it is accepted elsewhere
  • Multiple submissions are allowed
  • International submissions allowed
  • Writers must not have published a novel-length work at the time of submission (authors of short story collections and self-published titles can submit as can authors with work with a low distribution, about 5000 copies)
  • Standard formatting please (double-spaced, 12 pt font, pages numbered)
  • $20 reading fee
  • Submissions are not limited to writers in the US. All English-language submissions are welcome
  • Writers who have earned an Anthology Prize before and whose work appears in our printed book cannot submit to this category but are welcome to send us work in other open categories.

Deadline: March 31st

Add to Calendar

Judging:

Each year The Masters Review pairs with a guest judge to select stories. Our editorial team produces a shortlist of stories, which our judge reviews to select winners. In past years we have worked with Lauren Groff, AM Homes, Lev Grossman, Kevin Brockmeier, Amy Hempel, Roxane Gay, and Rebecca Makkai.

KATE BERNHEIMER is the author of two story collections, including How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales and Horse, Flower, Bird, as well as three novels, and editor of the World Fantasy Award winning and bestselling collection My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the World Fantasy Award nominee xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths. She both founded and edits Fairy Tale Review.

Her nonfiction has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, as well as heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. With Laird Hunt, she was recently a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award for the co-authored novella Office at Night, a joint commission of Coffee House Press and The Walker Art Center. With her brother, she co-curates the Places series “Fairy Tale Architecture.” Her children’s books, edited books, and short stories have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Turkish, and Japanese.

She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she teaches creative writing and fairy tale classes.

 

To submit a story or learn more about our guidelines, click the submit button:
submit

 

 

Mar 20

Baseball in Contemporary Literature

Today is my personal favorite day of the year: MLB’s Opening Day. I’ve been a huge baseball fan for years, and I’ve always been a bit disappointed about the apparent lack of contemporary and literary writing on the fascinating sport. Below, I’ve curated a few of my favorite options, both fiction and non.

Novels

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

This novel follows a 17-year old amateur and collegiate fielding phenom. Henry Skrimshander is a shortstop for the Westish Harpooners until he develops the yips following an errant throw that hospitalizes his teammate. The Art of Fielding was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award in 2011.

 

 

Underworld by Don DeLillo

Published in 1997, Underworld opens with one of the most famous hits in baseball history. New York Giant’s outfielder Bobby Thomson’s three-run homer lifted the Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the deciding 3rd game of the National League playoffs to cap a 4-run rally in the ninth inning. In Underworld, the ball is caught by Cotter Martin, whose father sells it for $32.45.

 

Shoeless Joe by W.P Kinsella

Better known by its film adaptation, Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe is set in Iowa City, where Ray Kinsella, the novel’s protagonist, hears a voice instructing him to construct a baseball field in the middle of his crop of corn. Soon after, the spirits of players involved in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, the fixing of the 1919 World Series (one of baseball’s lowest moments), arrive to play the game they loved when they were alive.

 

Short Fiction

“The Monsters” by Paul Crenshaw

Published last April at The Masters Review, “The Monsters” is about a little league team fielded by adolescent monsters. Vampires play the outfield; the pitcher is a werewolf; the catcher is a frankenstein; the shortstop is a satyr; and the coach is, of course, a minotaur. However, they are still, after all this, just kids.

 

Bottom of the Ninth by John McNally

Bottom of the Ninth is a collection of contemporary short stories about baseball edited by John McNally. The collection includes stories by Jim Shepard (“Batting Against Castro”) and Stuart Dybek (“Death of the Right Fielder”). However, as a die-hard Milwaukee Brewers fan, I have some fundamental differences with McNally, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.

 

Hobart’s Baseball Handbook

Hobart’s Baseball Handbook was released in July 2015 and contains a selection of the very best from their baseball issues. Hobart has been a journal I always turn to for consistently good baseball writing, so this handbook is not one to miss. The collection includes “Stories about Dock Ellis’ famous LSD no-hitter, Herb Washington as the only “designated runner” in MLB history, Jim Joyce and his blown call that cost the Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga a perfect game.”

Non-Fiction

The Only Rule is it Has to Work by Ben Lindbergh & Sam Miller

What would happen if statisticians constructed a baseball roster? Ben Lindberg and Sam Miller went on a mission to find out. This New York Times Bestseller follows the pair’s experiment with using sabermetrics to dictate their lineups and roster construction of the independent minor-league team, the Sonoma Stormers.

 

 

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

One of Major League Baseball’s most frequent criticisms is the lack of a salary cap, the perceived advantage of mega-funded teams like the New York Yankees: they can just “buy” a championship after all, can’t they? General Manager of the Oakland Athletics Billy Beane was on mission to prove that wrong. Beane was an early-adopter of the sabermetric, analytical roster construction that is now pervasive in professional baseball. The 2002 Athletics, with one of the smallest payrolls in MLB proved it’s possible to win with strategy instead of a deep pocketbook (although the team did fall short of the world series).

I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies by Tim Kurkjian

Tim Kurkjian, famous for his absurdly specific and obscure statistics and anecdotes (ever wanted to know how many left fielders have hit home runs in day games on Tuesdays in April? Tim would be the one to ask), wrote a book collecting some of his favorite stories from his time following the sport. You can read an excerpt here, on ESPN.

Mar 18

New Voices: “Year of the Snake” by A. J. Bermudez

Today, we welcome “Year of the Snake” by A. J. Bermudez to our New Voices catalog. A triptych following the zodiac calendar, “Year of the Snake” illustrates how much we can change—our goals, visions, definitions of success—and how much stays the same.

Chùsi dies on stage, grandly, then bows beneath a halo of lights, unfazed by the tenuous causality between a 400-year-old play and saving the animals. They will write checks, this sea of pocketbooks and suit jackets, and she will have been part of it, touched by the tumid thrill of casual largess. She, too, will save the elephants tonight.

1989

 

Chùsi is ten today, double digits, an achievement marked by the coming-of-age sacrament of frybread with sprinkles and icing for breakfast. Cupcakes are scheduled for 3:00, but Chùsi got what she came for.

This is the year of the brick-by-brick dismantling of the Soviet Bloc, the ascent of Vaclav Havel, and Chùsi’s pronouncement, for the first and only time, of her aspiration to become a professional roller skater. The coming years will be rife with disillusionment regarding the prospects of a career in roller skating––to say nothing of the ideological affinity between East and West—but today these things are irrefutable.

Chùsi drapes herself over the rail of the penguin habitat, propped on the rubber toe stop of her size three, white Chicago Rollers like a pro. Her legs, precariously long, shiver with the chill of shipped-in ice, the glinting heat of an eternal San Diego June.

A few yards off, a khaki-slacked guide delivers a careful, sweeping monologue about the tundra biome to a coterie of tourists, none of whom has given any indication of understanding English. They peer from beneath sun visors in every direction, but primarily upward, where members of the zoo staff balance on ladders, winding streamers over the stumpy limbs of faux baobab trees. Chùsi watches, mesmerized, as though witnessing an act of suburban vandalism transpire in slow motion.

“Decorations for the annual gala,” the guide explains. He launches into a brief lecture on permafrost, and then, because no one is listening, he says, “The zoo, ladies and gentlemen. A shrine to anthropocentrism.”

To continue reading “Year of the Snake” click here.

Mar 15

What to Read for Saint Patrick’s Day

Sunday is Saint Patrick’s Day. What better way to celebrate the Irish holiday than by reading Irish fiction and fiction set in Ireland. Settle in with a pint of Guinness and find your weekend read on this list.

Milkman by Anna Burns

Milkman, a novel set in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, was the winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Burns was the first Northern Irish to win the award. Milkman follows an 18-year-old protagonist and the harassment she receives from an old man called the milkman. Kwame Anthony Appiah called Burns’s voice “utterly distinctive” and her prose both “surprising and immersive.” https://themanbookerprize.com/news/anna-burns-wins-50th-man-booker-prize-milkman

 

“Bluebeard in Ireland” by John Updike

If Milkman doesn’t resonate with you, then perhaps a short story by one of America’s most prolific authors of the 20th century will better suit you.  “Bluebeard in Ireland” is a modern take on the classic fable and explores the things we keep to ourselves in marriage. The story can be found in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, an anthology of modern fairy tales edited by Anthology judge Kate Bernheimer with Carmen Gimenez Smith. Of Updike’s story, Smith says, “George and Vivian’s problem isn’t that they don’t love each other, but rather that love doesn’t invalidate the quiet darkness of every marriage.”

 

Ulysses by James Joyce
What list about Irish writers would be complete without reference to one of the greatest and most influential writers in modern history? James Joyce’s seminal novel, Ulysses, a novel utilizing the stream-of-consciousness, is set in Dublin in 1904. The novel parallels Homer’s epic Odyssey and is a staple of modernist literature.

 

 

The Dubliners by James Joyce

But maybe Joyce’s novels aren’t your thing, or you don’t have the time to digest Ulysses in one weekend. No worries! Turn instead to Joyce’s collection Dubliners. If you have to choose only one, I would suggest the collection’s concluding piece, “The Dead.”

 

 

Young Skins by Colin Barrett
Or how about something more modern? Look no farther than Colin Barrett’s gritty debut collection, Young Skins. Young Skins was published in 2014 and is filled with stories about the youth of Ireland. The collection won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Guardian First Book Award in 2014.

 

The Sea by John Banville

The Sea is another Man Booker Prize winner, this award coming in 2005. Banville’s thirteenth novel, the book has been described by Banville as “a direct return to his childhood.”

The novel is narrated by Max Morden, an art historian and widower who returns to a village on the seaside where he’d spent a summer when he was growing up. The Sea is filled with Banville’s distinctive style, prose which Don DeLillo has called “dangerous and clear-running.” http://www.john-banville.com/books/the-book-of-evidence/

Mar 14

Craft Essay: First-Person Direct Address

Today on the blog, we continue our Craft Essay series with this entry on the first-person direct address. I take a look at four stories from Brett Anthony Johnston, Kevin Brockmeier, Sandra Cisernos and Stuart Dybeck, that utilize the first-person direct address and examine how it’s used to benefit the story.

When used effectively, the direct address can establish a deep connection between characters, but overuse can lead to melodrama. Below, I touch briefly on a few stories where this technique is working especially well.

When I began research for this essay, I was surprised to discover how little information is readily available about the first-person direct address. It’s a technique I’ve often seen mistaken for the second-person point-of-view, even in creative writing workshops, but it’s distinctly different. So where is deviation? Let’s take a look.

What is first person direct?

In second-person, the narrator is the reader; the author is inserting the reader as a character in the story. With first-person direct address, however, the narrator is speaking to another character within the story, directly addressing them, or narrating their story to this character. It recalls for me the genre of the monologic epistolary, but a spoken address rather than a written one. In this essay by Laura Spence-Ash on CRAFT, she says that “there is an intimacy there between the characters that keeps the reader at bay.” When used effectively, the direct address can establish a deep connection between characters, but overuse can lead to melodrama. Below, I touch briefly on a few stories where this technique is working especially well.

Read on.

Mar 11

New Voices: “All The White People” by Sue Granzella

In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, millions across the country were wondering, What next? How did we get here? In today’s New Voices, Granzella, a third grade teacher in the Bay Area, reflects on those days following Trump’s election; her own Catholic upbringing; and the importance of diverse communities, especially for young children.

I needed to be a part of conversations I never had as a child, discussions and experiences that I think would have made me better, more aware of the breadth of human experience. My childhood was a happy one, but I wasn’t extended and challenged in ways I wish I had been. With each year, I’m more convinced that stretching beyond ourselves is essential.

On the morning after the 2016 Presidential election, my third-grade students huddled around me. Most of them were Latino, and nearly all of them children of color.  Before even taking off their jackets, they informed me, big-eyed, that Donald Trump had won. I winced at the contradiction; they were savvy enough to understand the implications of a national election, but innocent enough to imagine that I wouldn’t know the news if not for them.

Within minutes, I’d ushered them toward the rainbow rug, and all twenty-seven of us were sitting in a circle on the floor. They took turns speaking, tossing a plushy stuffed hippo across the circle to the person who waggled fingers, wanting to speak next.

“I think a lot of Americans voted for Donald Trump because they don’t like Mexican people,” said Gabriela in her Spanish-accented English. She lobbed the hippo to Antonio.

“I know why he wants the wall. He probably doesn’t like Mexicans,” said Antonio.

I sighed. They were even more anxious than I’d feared they would be.

The hippo flew back and forth around the circle, until finally it reached Carlos.

“I know why Donald Trump won. Because all the white people don’t like Mexicans.”

There was an audible gasp from the circle of eight-year-olds, as they whipped their heads around to face me. Raised eyebrows and gaping mouths asked the unspoken: had Carlos gone too far with “all the white people”? This group was one of the chattiest I’d taught in years. Now they stared at me, silent. Waiting.

To continue reading “All The White People” click here.

Mar 7

Interview with the Winner: Jacqui Reiko Teruya

Jacqui Reiko Teruya’s winning flash story was published on Monday (and you can read it in full here). Today, we’re excited to share this interview with our winner, in which we discuss the writing process, literary influences, and pairing the story with a song. Read on below.

Congratulations on winning our Summer 2018 Flash Fiction Contest! “How to Spot a Whale” jumped out to all of us right away as a contender for this contest. The opening line just grabs you: “Do not look impressed when Roberta tells you about narwhals—” Where did this story come from?

This came from a longer story that I was struggling with about a father who has left his family for months at a time to study whales in northern Canada. I was having a hard time finding what the protagonist knew and understood from her vantage point and the imperative mood seemed to unlock a lot of it for me, but then it took on a form of its own away from the original longer story.

We’re always so excited to be someone’s first publication; what was it like to get that news?

I actually didn’t believe it. I was in a coffee shop with one of my oldest friends and I made her read the email twice. I think that is what is most surprising to me in this process: the doubt actually has gotten stronger and more pronounced than it was before. There is a sense or a fear, maybe, that I’ll get an email saying “just kidding!” A friend of mine had a keychain made with “How to Spot a Whale” engraved on it, I guess so I can look at it, hold it in my hand, and remember that it is real and out there now.

If you had to pair “How to Spot a Whale” with a song, what would you choose?

Did I spend half a day thinking about this? Maybe.  I love this question and I think it is so hard to figure out how to pair something. Tonally, thematically, what I was listening to, etc. I don’t usually listen to music when I write, or if I do it’s instrumental. But I think I’d pair it with “No Concern of Yours” by Punch Brothers mostly because I’ve spent a lot of time driving around Maine listening to these guys so there is something about the story’s setting that links it to bluegrass in my mind.

I’m interested in the process behind the writing: the routines, the editing, the favorite places to write, etc. What does this process look like for you? Any unusual habits?

My process is endlessly frustrating. I line edit as I go which often jams up my train of thought and I lose momentum on a story.  Then I usually abandon one story and hop to a partial I abandoned before. I essentially need to have enough stories in my queue so that I can story hop until I settle into one for the long haul. Flash has been a useful tool in allowing me to play, to work through blocks, to line edit my heart out. My most productive times are late at night and I usually have to read everything out loud while I drink seltzer and try to not eat everything in the house.

Who would you cite as your influences? Who made this story possible for you?

Amy Hempel and Noy Holland I think were my introduction to smaller fictions. I read “The New Lodger” to my class each semester. Celeste Ng in general, but especially “How to Be Chinese” helped with this particular story. Short fiction outside of flash: James Baldwin, Karen Russell, Helen Oyeyemi, Don Lee, Laura van den Berg.

Interviewed by Cole Meyer

Mar 6

$5000 Awarded: The Masters Review Anthology VIII — Judged by Kate Bernheimer

Every year The Masters Review produces a print anthology that showcases the best emerging writers in the fiction and nonfiction genres. Our goal is to provide a platform for the very best new talent, and to help promising writers on their path to literary success. Ten stories and essays will be selected for our anthology, which will be distributed to agents and editors across the country. Winning authors will be awarded a total of $5000. This year, we are honored to be working with the fairy tale master Kate Bernheimer who will select the ten anthology finalists from a shortlist of thirty. Read all about the anthology here, and submit by March 31!

GUIDELINES:
  • Previously unpublished works of fiction and narrative nonfiction only
  • Up to 7000 words
  • We accept simultaneous submissions as long as work is withdrawn if it is accepted elsewhere
  • Multiple submissions are allowed
  • International submissions allowed
  • Writers must not have published a novel-length work at the time of submission (authors of short story collections and self-published titles can submit as can authors with work with a low distribution, about 5000 copies)
  • Standard formatting please (double-spaced, 12 pt font, pages numbered)
  • $20 reading fee
  • Submissions are not limited to writers in the US. All English-language submissions are welcome
  • Writers who have earned an Anthology Prize before and whose work appears in our printed book cannot submit to this category but are welcome to send us work in other open categories.

Deadline: March 31st

Add to Calendar

Judging:

Each year The Masters Review pairs with a guest judge to select stories. Our editorial team produces a shortlist of stories, which our judge reviews to select winners. In past years we have worked with Lauren Groff, AM Homes, Lev Grossman, Kevin Brockmeier, Amy Hempel, Roxane Gay, and Rebecca Makkai.

KATE BERNHEIMER is the author of two story collections, including How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales and Horse, Flower, Bird, as well as three novels, and editor of the World Fantasy Award winning and bestselling collection My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the World Fantasy Award nominee xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths. She both founded and edits Fairy Tale Review.

Her nonfiction has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, as well as heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. With Laird Hunt, she was recently a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award for the co-authored novella Office at Night, a joint commission of Coffee House Press and The Walker Art Center. With her brother, she co-curates the Places series “Fairy Tale Architecture.” Her children’s books, edited books, and short stories have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Turkish, and Japanese.

She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she teaches creative writing and fairy tale classes.

 

To submit a story or learn more about our guidelines, click the submit button:
submit

 

 

Mar 4

New Voices: How to Spot a Whale by Jacqui Reiko Teruya

Winner! We are so thrilled to be sharing the first place story from our 2018 Summer Flash Fiction Contest. Today, we publish Jacqui Reiko Teruya’s magnificent “How to Spot a Whale.” This story, told in second person, explores the delicate balance between who our family is and who we wish they were; and all the small, quiet moments noticed only by children.

Watch your mother bend to pick up smoothed rocks and broken parts of a shell. Ignore how drab she looks against the gray of the sky; do not wonder if your father notices that too. When the wind blows your mother’s straw hat into the water and she wades in—without grace—to retrieve it, love her more.

Do not look impressed when Roberta tells you about narwhals—the Monodontidae, the white whales. Do not bat an eye when she talks about their elongated canines, how they twist like candy out of the artic sea. When she says she’s heard so much about you, look at your mother. Let her know you see her. When she reaches for a green olive, take one too. Roll the pit over your tongue, clean it on every side like your mother taught you. When Roberta talks about her work and your father’s—the reason she’s come all this way—clench the pit in your teeth and smile wide.

Do not pay attention to Roberta’s red skirt flapping in the breeze or the cluster of orange freckles that dot her white-lady shoulders. Try not to notice the small flip of her nose, her full lips, or the crease of her eyelid. Do not admit you have dreamed of having that crease too. Do not compare your mother’s face to her face. If you see the ivory pendant dangling at the line of Roberta’s cleavage, look away. Fast. Do not think about the hollow of your mother’s chest or the way she tries to hide it under baggy shirts and blouses. Make sure to ask Roberta questions. Questions that take time to answer, that fill space while your father orders lobsters from a silver airstream.

To continue reading “How to Spot a Whale” click here.

Mar 1

Book Review: Fierce Pretty Things by Tom Howard

Last week, we caught up with former Short Story Award winner Tom Howard, whose new collection Fierce Pretty Things, winner of the 2018 Blue Lights Book Prize, is out today. Howard gave his thoughts on perseverance, writing, and giving a damn. You can read that essay here. Today, we’re excited to share our own review of Howard’s excellent Fierce Pretty Things.

“Everything [is] linked together in funny, sad way.” This comes from “The Magnificents,” the narrator describing a magic act by a neighborhood kid. But it’s an accurate description of Tom Howard’s Fierce Pretty Things, winner of Indiana Review’s 2018 Blue Light Books Prize, too. This collection, sardonic from cover to cover, is as funny as it is sad. The characters that occupy the pages of Fierce Pretty Things are remarkably human. They make mistakes; their lives are undesirable. Howard doesn’t shy away from them toward compromising situations, their missteps often leading to disaster. But still, in almost every situation, they find humor. They keep the light on, keep pushing forward. “Hey,” Hildy tells her brother in the dystopian “Hildy”, “you can eat me if you got to.”

This collection is particularly special to me and to The Masters Review, as “Hildy” was selected the winner as our Short Story Award for New Writers back in 2015 and I was the slush pile reader who nominated it. It’s such a pleasure to see “Hildy” in this collection among seven other equally tragic and moving stories.

Read more.