Archive for the 'Short Story' Category

Mudstone

Thrilled and honored that my short story “Mudstone” won First Place in this year’s Wisconsin People & Ideas fiction contest. The story will appear online and in print next month in their summer issue. [Update 7/18/17: “Mudstone” can be read online here.]

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Rosebud 62

Issue62Rosebud 62 has arrived! There’s much to celebrate, beginning with Tai Taeoalii, the American/Samoan artist and filmmaker whose pop art surrealism graces the front and back cover as well as appearing generously throughout the issue. “These are deep waters, in which thought and feeling morph in mysterious ways,” writes Rosebud editor Rod Clark in his interview with the artist, whose work is both fanciful and nightmarish. Just like the five winning short stories in the magazine’s sixth biennial Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction. Taking first place and $1,000 is Patricia Lundy’s gothic horror tale, “Nova’s Burial Club.” Lundy will disturb your sleep with sentences like this: “I found her face down at the table, her hair dipping into the meat sauces.”

Readers of Rosebud 62 are also treated to the first two chapters from a new novel, James Joyce 1906-1907: The Ambiguity of Epiphanies, by Giuseppe Cafiero, and translated from the Italian by Simon Knight. A kind of noirish psychological study of Joyce and his work, the excerpt is narrated by a private detective hired by a publisher to shadow the modernist writer whose “incorrigible arrogance and effrontery” have given birth to stories that “dwell on matters not acceptable in polite society, possibly unlawful and certainly deserving of disapproval.”

Further rounding out issue 62: poems from Lyn Lifshin (“Remembering Later it’s the Anniversary of When My Mother and Father Eloped”), Lester Graves Lennon (“Uncle Scott”), and George Eastburn (“More than Ferlinghetti or Ginsberg”); writer and cartoonist P. S. Mueller’s apocalyptic meetup with God in “The Big Shiny” (“When God spoke, he really did sound like Orson Welles bellowing into a highly amplified public address system centered in a tiled men’s room the size of an airplane hangar”); and Mike Baron’s “Trail of the Loathsome Swine,” a scabrous Southern Gothic short story uniquely tailored for the Age of Trump (“Only time I ever had any truck with ’em animal rights people was in the sixth grade, they got permission to come to our school and try to frighten the bejesus out of us with pictures of slaughterhouses and chickens in cages and such”). Oh, there’s more. So much more.

Writers take note: Also included in Rosebud 62 are the guidelines for the ninth biennial X. J. Kennedy Award for Creative Nonfiction. Deadline for submissions is August 15, 2017. I’m pleased to say I’ll be co-judging this year’s contest entries with editor Rod Clark.

Rosebud 60

issue60Rosebud 60 (Fall/Winter 2015) is a beauty. There’s the joyous cover art by featured artist Toni Pawlowsky. Inside, for starters, you’ll find all five winning essays in Rosebud’s eighth biennial X. J. Kennedy Award for Nonfiction (which I had the pleasure of co-judging with editor Rod Clark): Grand Prize winner Chris Ellery (“A Boy of Bethany”), and runners-up Jennifer Arin (“Adrián de Sevilla”), Katherine Baker (“No Gas, No Soap in Cuba”), Joan Frank (“The Where of It”), and Brett Alan Sanders (“Attractions of Barbarity, or Dreaming a Complete Argentina”). The winning essays this year are international in scope with timely and thought-provoking visits to Jerusalem, Paris, Havana, and Buenos Aires.

There’s much more goodness to unpack in Rosebud 60, from poetry by Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Thich Nhat Hanh, to the “medical science fiction” of Dr. Tatsuaki Ishiguro (“The Hope Shore Sea Squirt”). Even a graphic short story (“What Is” by Mort Castle) illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre. And we’re still only scratching the surface. Regular features include top-of-their-game work from Rod Clark, P. S. Mueller, and Rick Geary. Guest art director Kathy Sherwood (filling in for Parnell Nelson, sidelined with health concerns, but returning for Rosebud 61) has given the magazine a sleek presentation.

Ad for “The G.O.D. Club” in Madison Magazine

GodAD

Ad for The G.O.D. Club appears in the September 2014 issue of Madison Magazine.

The G.O.D. Club

Now Available from
Cambridge Book Review Press

G-Club

The G.O.D. Club
A Story by Dwight Allen

$2.99 Kindle ebook

“The G.O.D. Club” is a new short story by Dwight Allen, author of two novels, Judge (2003) and The Typewriter Satyr (2009), and a collection of short stories, The Green Suit, reissued in 2011. Bonus features of this exclusive ebook single from Cambridge Book Review Press include an introduction by Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe, and an afterword by novelist and poet Dale M. Kushner (The Conditions of Love). Also included is “The Thread of It,” an excerpt from Dwight Allen’s memoir-in-progress.

“The unnamed loss, the unspoken terror in ‘The G.O.D. Club’ is the loss of time itself.”—Dale M. Kushner, author of The Conditions of Love.

Medium Cool

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.39.09 AM

I just posted a new short story of mine, “Recall,” to the website Medium. What I love about the site is the elegant simplicity of the page design, which makes for one of the very best environments I’ve seen for digital reading. The brainchild of Twitter’s co-founder, Evan Williams, Medium wants to do for long-form work what Twitter has done for focused brevity. Techcrunch.com has an excellent write-up on Medium from last fall.

[Update: Also worth checking out is David Carr’s May 25, 2014 New York Times column: “A Platform and Blogging Tool, Medium Charms Writers.”]

Rosebud 56

Rosebud56Rosebud 56 (Winter 2013/14) has arrived and it’s as strong an issue as editor Rod Clark has given us in twenty years of Rosebud goodness: From the vibrant nature-fueled Americana of featured Vermont artist Patricia LeBon Herb, to a selection of poetry from postwar Spanish writer José Ángel Valente newly translated by Thomas Christensen. Another must-read highlight is Rod’s Voice Over column, “Recuerdos: Guatamala 1976,” a harrowing first-person recounting of a notorious Latin American earthquake.

Film lovers will find a treasure trove in issue 56: “Shadows on a Screen,” a knowing coming-of-age short story by Thomas Fuchs, son of Hollywood screenwriter Daniel Fuchs (Criss Cross [1949]); Victor A. Walsh’s fascinating essay on Nellie Crawford (a.k.a. Madame Sul-Te-Wan), “Breaking the Color Barrier: Hollywood’s first African-American actress”; and Jack Lehman’s haunting “fictional autobiography,” “Orson Welles in Wisconsin.”

Also included are a pair of warm reminiscences of two iconic Wisconsin authors: Robert Zoschke’s “Norbert Blei (1935-2013): A writer with a capital ‘W,’” and Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe’s classic piece on Madison poet John Tuschen (1949-2005), “Poet is a Stranger in His Own Land.”

Believe me, I’m only scratching the surface of this issue (cf., P.S. Mueller’s illustrated exploration of Baby Boomer obsolescence, “Fader”; Rick Geary’s cheerfully sinister Afterwords comic, “My Home Town”). And, sure, let’s not forget to mention my short story, “Ty-D-Bol Blue,” which I’m delighted to see in print after first appearing online in last summer’s Cambridge Book Review.

cbr 20 / summer 2013

cbr

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cbr 20 / summer 2013

The Burning Monk
A short story
Dwight Allen

Yellow Sky
A short story
Rod Clark
Illustrations by Weshoyot Alvitre

And If It Be Mean
A short story
Norma Gay Prewett

Ghosts in the Library
A short story
Jack Lehman

Ben Armstrong’s Strange Trip Home
An excerpt
David Allan Cates

The Tiger’s Wedding
An excerpt
James Dante

Telling Time
An excerpt
Lee Jing-Jing

Bad Axe
An excerpt
Ann Morrison

The Silent Witness
An excerpt
Steven Salmon

Ty-D-Bol Blue
A short story
Bob Wake

Polyester
A short story
August McGinnity-Wake

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Fox 8: A Story

Fox 8: A Story
George Saunders
Random House 2013

Reviewed by Bob Wake

Fox8According to the L.A. Times literary blog Jacket Copy, George Saunders chose to leave “Fox 8” out of his recently published collection Tenth of December because he felt it was “asking one stretch too many from the reader.” I get that. In fact, I much prefer reading the occasional Saunders story in The New Yorker rather than compiled in short story collections. His stories, artfully spun and eccentrically self-contained, can seem overly precious and “worked up” when set side by side. That said, he’s written more than his share of masterful short stories. “Fox 8,” which began life as a failed children’s book, is as memorable as anything Saunders has written, which is to say it will stay with you because of qualities it shares with timeless, even mythic storytelling.

George Saunders. Photo: Chloe Aftel.

George Saunders. Photo: Chloe Aftel.

The story is narrated by a visionary fox struggling to convince his starving den comrades that their only chance for survival is to strike out in quest of food at the newly constructed shopping mall that has displaced their habitat. “Fox 8” is actually an epistolary fable, written as a beseeching letter to the humans whose language Fox 8 has learned, if not precisely mastered, as a kind of earthy Chaucerian Middle English: “Stay in your awesum howses, play your music lowd, however you make it play so lowd, yap your Yuman jokes, sending forth your crood laffter into the nite.” Also worth noting about this very cool 99-cent ebook are the wonderful illustrations by graphic designer Chelsea Cardinal (the sharp cover design is hers as well).

Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned

Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned
Michael Sheehan
Colony Collapse Press 2012

Reviewed by Bob Wake

PrintThe four short stories that comprise Michael Sheehan’s Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned are ambitious and often darkly amusing fictions that adroitly mesh genre-busting experimental writing and rock-solid literary instincts. While each story succeeds well enough on its own ingeniously devised terms, the title story is perhaps the strongest in the collection. Stripped of the hypertextual footnotes and pop culture references that function as metafictional ballast in the other stories collected here, “Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned” is instead a tightly composed narrative about the mounting internalized horror of a woman plunged into a coma-like state of “conscious paralysis” after stumbling and falling outside of a New York dance club. Passages of dryly delivered historical documentation on “suspended animation” are woven directly into the text and add to the story’s powerful effect. Sheehan never pushes the existential metaphor of an unmoored and despairing Beckettian consciousness, allowing us to intimately share the protagonist’s dislocation:

Deep inside herself, willing her body limp and empty and motionless and withdrawing every bit of her true self inside, away, acutely aware of everything around her and through this awareness focused more and more on nothing but staying still, hidden.

sheehan_headshot

Michael Sheehan. Photo: Colony Collapse Press.

The final story, “September,” is the longest in the collection and its hilarious over-the-top self-indulgence is clearly intended as an homage to the influential writer for whom the story is dedicated: David Foster Wallace (1962-2008). Sheehan cleverly glosses aspects of Wallace’s Infinite Jest (the novel’s apocalyptic tennis court game of Eschaton—which also inspired the Decemberists’ video for their “Calamity Song”—becomes an epic round of Civilization in Sheehan’s story). More than mere parody, Sheehan’s “September” finds its own rhythms and drug-fueled conspiratorial compulsions, and the story’s final section (dated September 12, 2008, the date of Wallace’s death) is heartbreakingly beautiful as writing and as eulogy.


Mudstone

Recall: A Short Story

Walden West and the Twilight of Transcendentalism

eBook Single .99

Caffeine & Other Stories by Bob Wake

Order Caffeine to Go ($2.99 on Kindle)

Cloud Spew

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