This Week in Short Fiction


Monday marked Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce’s 732-page day-in-a-book, Ulysses. While this is hardly short fiction, Joyce is also often credited as one of the earliest practitioners of the epiphany, a technique that still burns bright in short fiction (and at times too bright as some have told it). As a toast to our Irish friend this Bloomsday week, a few pre-epiphanic thoughts from Gabriel in Joyce’s famous story “The Dead”:

Like the tender fire of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers. Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched all their souls’ tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her then he had said: “Why is it that words like these seem to   me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?”

The past few months, Nate Brown has been having interesting conversations with American Short Fiction web contributors such as Kim Addonizio and Keith Lesmeister. On Tuesday, Brown spoke with Alison McCabe about her story “Heirloom,” which tells itself in a little under 850 words, but still delicately manages decades-long leaps in time and startling shifts in language.  Of her writing, McCabe said, “Most of my characters are a cocktail of different personalities I’ve encountered.”

On Thursday, Midnight Breakfast introduced a new recurring feature on their website called “Small Plates,” which will publish excerpts from new books that they’re excited about. Midnight Breakfast Editor-in-Chief (and former Rumpus Interviews Editor) Rebecca Rubenstein explains the “Small Plates” concept: “Why keep something so good to yourself when you can share it with others?” The first Plate is the short story “His Days,” a spiraling study in tight sentences and fraught relationships. Originally published at Necessary Fiction, the piece now also lives in Lauren Becker’s novella and flash collection If I Would Leave Myself Behind, recently released by Curbside Splendor.

Jill Schepmann's stories have been read on NPR and have appeared in Parcel and Midwestern Gothic, among others. She worked as a fiction and nonfiction editor at Nashville Review while getting her MFA at Vanderbilt. She lives in San Francisco and tweets @jillypants. More from this author →