How’s Your Sister? by Anne Goodwin

Cancer is a brutal beast, but this story isn’t about cancer. It’s about something stranger, something more dangerous to name than cancer. So cancer it is, as the family tries to explain what happened to their daughter, to their sister. Why Emily is now in a wheelchair.

Back when we had cable, I used to watch the National Geographic Channel almost compulsively (along with BBC America). In particular, there was one show that I enjoyed beyond all the rest, mostly because of how weird it was: Taboo. And there was quite a bit of backlash when, in 2012, they aired a segment on a fake paraplegic. Continue reading…

Young Berries by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Russia occupies a very precarious place in my life. My partner was born in the Soviet Union and lived through its collapse and then the rebirth of the motherland. One of my closest friends currently lives there. I’ve written screenplays set there. I’ve attempted to learn Russian at least three times with varying success.

There’s also a breadth of Russian literature. Dostoyevsky. Tolstoy. Chekhov. Gogol. Gorky. Yesenin. Tolstoy again. Nabokov. Etc. Etc. What strikes me is they are all men and all giants. But what of Petrushevskaya? Is the problem that she’s alive? Or is it that her work was officially censored for the first 50-or-so years? Both?

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Love Song of the Lizard Boy by Delilah S. Dawson

You know how it goes; it’s a story older than time. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, and then they have a million eggs together because they’re actually lizard people. Oh, that’s not how that usually goes? Well crap.

That’s actually how it goes in Delilah S. Dawson’s Love Song of the Lizard Boy, which is set in her Blud universe. And don’t worry if you haven’t actually read any of the books in that universe, because neither have I and I still managed to enjoy these lizards. I can also happily report that there is no obnoxious cliff-hanger forcing you to buy any of those books either if you don’t want to. Which, now that I think about it, I’m kind of tempted to now.

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The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway

Of course we would start with Hemingway, and of course it would be with Francis Macomber. It couldn’t be any other way, really. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber was the first short story I ever read. That isn’t true. There plenty of times I was forced to read condensed classics, abridged into easily digestible morsels. Those public middle school mistakes made me distrustful of shorter works because they often were insulting. My opinion at fifteen was short fiction was for chumps.

When I think of my evolution as both a reader and as a writer, my introduction to Hemingway was an important milestone. Important enough that I can remember it eleven years later. Francis Macomber was the first short story that challenged me and revealed all that could be possible in just a few quick pages. It started a love affair with brevity that is still running its course. Continue reading…