Tuesday, March 10, 2009

bearcreekfeed/Jac Jemc/Myra Sherman/Short Story Review

Nominating Editor: Colin Bassett

bearcreekfeed publishes full-length fiction online. The journal was launched in May 2008 with one of Kim Chinquee's longest stories ever published. Though there are obvious drawbacks, the longer story format does exist in many online venues, despite internet writing being dominated by shorter fiction and prose poetry. We wanted an online journal that published the kind of short stories one would usually only see in a print journal. bearcreekfeed also operates without issues; stories are published one at a time and without a specific schedule so that no concerns besides that of the nature and quality of the fiction dictate what we publish. Because of this the journal functions as a kind of style-oriented online fiction anthology. We also publish poetry e-books and print chapbooks, but the journal's home page is dedicated to putting both print-quality and print-length fiction online. As far as I know, there is no other journal with this goal.

We publish a specific style of writing that is hopefully apparent from what is on the site. When reading submissions I am looking for stories that are in line with this style; the majority of submissions are rejected very quickly for simply not fitting in. Also important are the opening paragraphs. I am always looking for an opening paragraph that is itself a kind of quality short-short. Likewise, though the stories are long, they need to maintain the swift quality of shorter fiction. I try not to apologize for length, but I do think people like stories that read quickly. This is actually the primary concern that prevents us from accepting a lot of otherwise desirable submissions. I am largely unconcerned with content; the style and manner of the writing are much more important. Similarly, we are not looking simply for "excellence" like so many journals stipulate in their guidelines. I don't care about "excellence" and will happily turn it down if it's not the kind of fiction I want to read.

Nominated Short Story:
"The Tackiness of Souls" - Jac Jemc

Reviewed: by Myra Sherman

Jac Jemc’s short story, “The Tackiness of Souls,” immerses the reader into the world and mind of Minnie Fishman, a 31 year old “producer” at an ad agency. She is infatuated with Daniel, a “creator” at the agency, and sees him as her mirror image. Both of them are intense, clever and depressed. Both are narcissistic and insecure.

The story starts at an office party. Minnie is exhausted by the party and the need to be “on” all the time. She is ready to leave when she sees Daniel. Over the course of a very long night, they end up together at an all night coffee shop. By the time they part, Minnie realizes that being with someone who mirrors her flaws is worse than being alone.

Minnie is a great character. She is “burdened with a funny name by hippie parents.” She “isn’t a conventional bombshell and she doesn’t have the confidence which must support strange beauty.” A self-diagnosed manic-depressive who has decided she’s in a sad period, Minnie sees in “Daniel’s usual condition of misery,” her perfect match.

In addition to the interesting story and excellent writing, what makes this story memorable is the unusual structure. By alternating segments of third person present tense narrative with paragraphs that seem to be instructions to the reader, the author is able to intensify the reader’s emotional involvement with the previous segment.

For example, following a segment at the party where Daniel responds to Minnie’s overture with a shrug and a smirk:

"Think of it as metaphor for the future of this relationship; compare people who are smart to the ones who are hungry; remember that time your ex-boyfriend called you masochistic and you felt accomplished."

And after Minnie becomes disillusioned with Daniel:

"Think Aesop’s character foils; compare it to the tackiness of the concept of souls; remember the tension of condescension."

It was fascinating to watch the progression of Minnie’s time with Daniel and to share her experience. The push-pull of new relationships was beautifully drawn. The never saccharine, always smart tone was just right.

Reviewer's Bio:

Myra Sherman lives in Lake County, CA. Her fiction has appeared or will appear in: The Blotter Magazine, Fifth Wednesday Journal, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink (web), Workers Write-Tales from the Couch, 580 Split (web), Another Sky Press Horror Anthology, Thuglit (web), and others.

She has recently completed a collection of linked jail stories, and is now working on a novel.

Thanks for visiting Five Star Literary Stories and reading about this short story.

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