“Seasonal Work” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
“You Do Not Know What Slipstream Is” by Lon Prater
“Histories” by Samantha Henderson
In “Seasonal Work” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, a young man has just found a job wrapping presents for Christmas. The job is much more personal than may seem in the beginning. This story is a good example of flash fiction: very short, effective, and enjoyable. The twist comes in early, and the end leaves one with a grin.
In “You Do Not Know What Slipstream Is” by Lon Prater, the narrator is trying to write a slipstream story, but he realizes he doesn’t really know what that subgenre is. Meanwhile, his everyday life, in the form of his two daughters, becomes an interruption as well as a part of his story.
This is a work of mimetic meta-fiction. The author is preoccupied with genre in its deep sense and with the link between reality and fiction. The daughters are accessories, voicing questions that make up the center of the tale. “You Do Not Know What Slipstream Is” winks at the reader by confessing to walk that tricky realm between fiction and reality. I must confess that I dislike stories that are too self-conscious; this offering didn’t quite make me change my mind, but at least it had some humor.
In “Histories” by Samantha Henderson, Ally plays a lot of string instruments, her band has success, and she even has a wonderful girlfriend, Mandy. One day, she starts what she thinks is a simple doodle. The marks on the paper strike Ally as being strange, and the doodling becomes compulsive. When two strange men appear at Ally’s door, the mystery thickens.
"Histories" certainly belongs to the gothic subgenre, but it also couples it with a blues atmosphere that’s well conveyed. The rainy city, sketched vividly in quick and effective passages, plays an important role. The shady characters of Ally, her girlfriend, and the mysterious strangers enhance the allure of the original plot and of the enticing atmosphere.