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Emshwiller, Carol

Sex and/or Mr. Morrison

A disclaimer for you on this happy June that will become self-evident soon enough: I love this story. I could read it a thousand times over and give you a thousand different insights. I love it in the peepish and borderline obsessive way its narratrice experiences love. Love it, in its own words, “as a mouse might love the hand that cleans the cage, and as uncomprehendingly, too, for surely I see only a part of him here.”

(Except the story doesn’t have a gender, so swap the pronoun for the more appropriate in that quote.)

I first read this story while obdurately at the beach with a friend on a cold, wet day. The only other beach-trawler was an Australian man, whistling and playing football by himself and wearing nothing but a floppy hat. This guy belonged perfectly with this collection of stories.

In fact, if story’s author is one whose writings (long and short) you haven’t yet read, I can tell you authoritatively that they’re perfect reading for rivers and hammocks and beaches and other June-type reading.

Speaking of June reading, by this daymarker it’s just about Bloomsday…

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Millet, Lydia

Sir Henry

I have a good excuse to spare you my blathery scrawl about the show-stopping beauty in this story — the hot cats at Electric Literature have done so in a flashier way, and before you even tap the PLAY button on your baubly mp3 players, you ought to watch this:

Nice, right? Apparently an artist named Luca Dipierro is to blame.

But it’s time to forcibly extract the candy from your eyes and cram it in your ears. Here’s a story.

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Birrell, Heather

Trouble at Pow Crash Creek

It’s probably one of the better things in life — right up there with creative breakthroughs and lasting love and the slurp of streetside oysters — to have one’s hat tipped to new and great authors. In my case, it doesn’t happen often, because I’m finicky and discriminating with my own tastes, or as others have said, snotty. Some of my closest friends, in fact, have sworn never again to share enthusiasm of their own discoveries, for fear of my response. I’m not proud of this.

So, several months ago, I may or may not have been at a certain big bookish event, and I may or may not have chatted briefly with a representative of an independent publisher known for foresightedness and inventiveness and openmindedness and other qualities sometimes surprising of publishing types. And during this chat, that may or may not have happened, the publisher may have mentioned an author in her catalogue that may (or may not) gel with my very fussy and finicky tastes, and later, I may or may not have gotten my sticky mitts on an illicit copy of that author’s book of short stories.

And it’s hard to say whether or not any of this actually happened, or whether or not this story is related to that anecdote. I mean, it was several months ago, and we all know what happens to memory. But however I may have come across tonight’s author, when I did it was not unlike experiencing a breakthrough while slurping an oyster on the street with one’s lasting love.

If we’re lucky, you’ll feel the same.

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Wilbur, Richard

A Game of Catch

It’s always a little weird to me to read a sports story, with idioms like “burning one in” that are just so far removed from my patois that I can barely even get my mouth to go in that direction. And it’s equally odd to try and project teenage boy-speak, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve taken an interest in the mannerisms of teenage boys. But it’s springtime, and nothing’s more appropriate than boys and baseball. So here’s a little bit of both, no matter how much “burning one in” seems like the last thing you want a teenage boy to do.

But consider yourself forewarned: this is not a work of jolly maypole-dancing return-to-innocence, though it is appropriate and recommended for young and old, whether in classroom, cabana, cubicle or coffin.

In sadder news, J.G. Ballard has died, and I encourage you to have a listen to this reading of The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race. And then you might need to go out and read everything he’s ever read, and thank me for it.

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Link, Kelly

The Specialist’s Hat

So it was decided that I needed a table, but in thinking about the sort of table I might need, for the purpose the table would serve, it was further decided that the table needed to have certain bench-like properties. A hybrid, as we say in these times.

The problem is, as you may have heard, money in my country is not worth very much these days and table-benches are beyond my budget, and while there’s a new president whose first order of business, as you may have heard, will be to give me a new hybrid table-bench, I know better than to rely on economies and politics, and I went and gathered what I needed to fashion it myself.

Now, I’m not the handiest of people, and I’m actually fairly dangerous when put in front of power tools and sharp edges and, you know, screws and such, but I built the damned thing, which grew increasingly complicated from the initial idea of Top and Legs, to include such delicate bench-like features as Rabbited Feet and Lots of Slatted Inserts and Dependence on Measurements, and no shortage of other over-ambitious features for an unhandy sort. But it’s built. It’s wonky as all-hell, and if you’re ever over at my house and I invite you to sit on it, it can probably be safely said that I’m not your biggest fan. But it’s built– it’s my civic duty to let you all know that, wonkily or not, I’ve done my civic duty. And now it’s time to sit back and read more stories.

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Singleton, George

Show-and-Tell

In the two days since first reading of tonight’s story, I’ve been deeply ensconced with this idea of show-and-tell, to the irrational (read: batshit) point of showing-and-telling the objects comprising the contents of my desk to the various beasts kicking about the place, or showing-and-telling one runty waterlogged piece of the garden to another.

And then waking from that little spat of brain damage to the discovery that… well, maybe I’d missed the point entirely.

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Krampf, Carl

From the Mouths of Buildings

A message from the author of today’s story:Do you ever wonder as you are reading a story, or hearing one, such as on a podcast, for example, what or whom has inspired a particular story? Picture this: imaginary “directions” or “instructions” for a story that the author creates– after the story has been written–or told. Imagine that these “directives” led to this story–which in actuality they did not–well at least the author had no idea of any directives of any sort when the story came into being.For example, consider these “directions” for the story which is about to be told: “Develop and cultivate some awful but real fear of some possible real things. This cannot be a fear of imaginary or fantasy things. You could use, as an example, the fear of things falling from windows of buildings. Expand this fear majestically, as you wish. (Optional: cowering is permitted–but this must be real cowering as opposed to symbolical.) Good luck!– Carl Krampf

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Ballard, J. G.

The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race

I was thinking about the last story I read to you, and thinking it’d be nice if other events of this variety, the sort of events that are difficult to explain to small children, were similarly reimagined. And not just on a large scale, either. I’m talking about The Pulling of My Wisdom Teeth Considered as a Jaunt Through a Daisy Field, or The Love Affair Between Gravity and my Ceiling, Considered as a Synchronized Swimming Spectacular. And here’s another.

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Oates, Joyce Carol

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

I read in the news yesterday that television writers here in the U.S. have gone on strike, and that because of the strike, everybody’s arms are collectively thrown up in a great wide panic, because nobody knows what’s going to happen on Charmed and because there’s nobody to script the next great Wardrobe Malfunction, and this sounds like very bad news indeed and I was sorry to read it. Genuinely so, and not because of an audience’s deprivation, nor out of concern for people fortunate enough to make their means by slinging a pen (although I do!), nor out of personal political predilections about labor of the organized variety (though I have them!) but because it’s sad to think about all those characters in limbo (who knew Pirandello would prove the portent?) hanging off cliffs and otherwise unresolved.

But so, more helpful might be to present alternative programming. And, well, I happen to be able to help there. For the characters among you, hang in there.

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Bradbury, Ray

I See You Never

Last night, I was thinking of what to write to you today while starting to doze off just prior to handing over the wheel. I woke up with one of those Holy Mother I’m Dozing Off kind of starts, and, as I was now more alert than usual during this leg of the trip, I made the sad discovery that what I’d read as the Bikini Avenue Exit was actually something far more G-Rated, and significantly less scandalous. Which was a drag for me, because I’ve spent months thinking, as I sleepily drove past the Bikini Avenue Exit, “well, no matter, if we break down here, I can live in a place like Bikini Avenue.” And now that I know better, you see, I’m a little nervous… what would happen were I to get stuck there, in a place NOT Bikini Avenue?

There’s a moral here somewhere, involving holding on to tired hallucinations, and applauding half-conscious on-road activity. You would probably be best to ignore it. Have a story instead!

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