The five short stories selected for Issue 8—three for our print issue and two for the Online Companion—represent, we hope, the best of what contemporary fiction offers the discerning reader. They surprise us with their insights, break our hearts and make us laugh—often at the same time—and provide us privileged glimpses into those odd, bewildering moments which elevate our experiences beyond the realm of the everyday.
Our first selection for Issue 8, Sadie Hoagland’s gracefully rendered “Cavalier Presentations of Heartbreaking News,” invites readers into the suburban world of the near-future, one in which neighborhood birds have been replaced with nearly indistinguishable, battery-operated facsimiles. Riley Kross’s “The Séance Will Begin on Schedule, So Please Arrive on Time” is part horror, part mystery—in spare, evocative prose, the story interrogates the burden of guilt and our very human desire to communicate with the dead whom we feel we owe. Finally, Jon Gingerich’s “The Vest” unflinchingly examines a dehumanized, modern city scape, one in which a simple, discarded uniform—a fluorescent orange construction vest—can convey upon the person who finds it extraordinary symbolic power.
The Online Companion for Issue 8 includes two additional striking and unforgettable stories. Matt Cashion’s “Any Idiot Can Feel Pain,” from his forthcoming Katherine Anne Porter Prize-winning collection Last Words of the Holy Ghost, explores in moving, epistolary form the hapless lives of a mother, her traumatized teenage daughter, and the college professor they depend upon for motivation. Our second selection, Jennifer Savran Kelly’s “Breakfast,” demonstrates in its masterful economy the painful distance that grows between parent and child when dark secrets are harbored in silence and denial.
We hope you enjoy reading these five marvelous stories as much as we did.
— Michael Shum, Grist Fiction Editor
Order your copy of Issue 8 here