This Week in Short Fiction


Leesa Cross-Smith’s debut story collection, Every Kiss a War, dropped last week from Mojave River Press. Written in the second person, her incantatory response reads like a spiritual to-do list, almost a story in itself. Try a sip:

Drink red wine, cold. Buy cheap beer and sparklers. Wear a skirt and cowboy boots. Kiss in an empty baseball park at midnight. Go to a skee ball tournament and drink cherry cola. Listen. Really listen. Read e.e. cummings and Nikki Giovanni and sigh. Listen to Muddy Waters and Miranda Lambert and Will Oldham in the kitchen. Kitchen music. Make extra-spicy gin Bloody Marys and tell him something you’ve never told anyone. Let someone love you—really love you—step out of the shade and let the hot, hot sun of that love warm your face. Confess and bless. Believe. Grow out your armpit hair.

Back in April, Leesa took part in Necessary Fiction’s rad recurring series called Research Notes, which “invites authors to describe their research for a recent book.” This week, she shared a playlist over at Little Fiction to go along with her stories. And check out the book trailer for Every Kiss a War here.

You can sample more of Leesa’s writing here on The Rumpus, and read her award-winning story, “Whiskey & Ribbons” in its entirety over at Carve Magazine.


Mazes, mimes, and unforgiving critics. Over at the Boston Review, Edmondo Paz-Soldán brings these Borgesian elements to life in two shorts, “El Mimo” and “Esquinas,” which spin themselves out in just a little over 500 words. Paz-Soldán writes in Spanish, and Kirk Nesset provides English translations below each piece. In “El Mimo,” we see the mime, struggling to infinitely refine and condense his movements to tell the tragic life story of the orphaned Li Shang in only a single flicker of an eyelid. Despite this dramatic feat, the crowd demands even more of the artist:

La gente que pasa aplaude, discute de manera acalorada los equívocos significados del leve movimiento del párpado derecho, y luego termina coincidiendo en algo: quizás si la historia pudiera contarse de manera aún más condensada, se podría disfrutar mucho más de ella.

(English translation) The people who have gathered applaud. They debate with much heat the ambiguous dance of the flickering eyelid and end up agreeing on something: if the tale could be condensed even more in its telling, there’d be more to enjoy.

The author of nine novels and two short story collections, Paz-Soldán has been identified by some as part of the McOndo Movement in Latin American literature, which distinguishes itself from Magical Realism by focusing more exclusively on the realities of the modern world. You can read more about his recent writings and his work as a professor in the Department of Romance studies at Cornell University here.

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 →