Category Archives: Hooray Fiction!

Award Won

the-black-cat

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Congratulations to Matt Tanner for winning a 50 Books / 50 Covers award from Design Observer!

Matt won for designing the cover of the newest book from Fiction Advocate, The Black Cat by J.M. Geever.

We’re not surprised, but we’re hella proud.

You can see all of the winning designs here, see Matt’s full portfolio here, and start reading The Black Cat (with its award-winning good looks!) here.

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When Google Met WikiLeaks

OR Book Going Rouge

When Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen got together with Julian Assange on June 23, 2011, Assange was staying with a WikiLeaks sponsor in rural England and had just completed his sixth month under house arrest as he fought extradition to Sweden for questioning regarding sexual assault charges. He was also dealing with the aftermath of the funding freeze on WikiLeaks, arranged by the US State Department, in retaliation for his publication of embassy cables and war-related secrets leaked to him by Chelsea Manning, including the now-infamous Collateral Murder video. Though he was the recent recipient of prestigious journalism awards, including the Martha Gellhorn prize and Australia’s premiere journalism award, the Walkley Award, the re-established sexual assault charges (Swedish authorities had dropped them and allowed him to leave the country) cut deeply into his popular appeal and began the intense counter-assault on WikiLeaks and on Assange’s character that continues to this day.

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Before the Crash

Bright Shards of Someplace Else

FA review tag

I mean this in the kindest and most kinetic way: the stories in Monica McFawn’s debut collection, Bright Shards of Someplace Else, remind me of that moment before a car accident. Split seconds elongate to a prolonged nowhere-time when you have a few languorous moments to notice the oddest details—why did I buy that dumb hanging air freshener, who the hell would still have a McCain/Palin bumper sticker, and by the way, what’s with gravity?—before the inevitable crunch and whimper. Not that these stories ever end in high drama. Characters spin slightly out of control, and rarely do McFawn’s stories click neatly shut; instead, we’re hanging on with them in that slow revolution before impact, often more aware than they are of what set these bodies in motion.

The “shards” in the title refer to one character’s memory of the sparks behind her closed eyelids after her stepfather struck her as a child. What she felt then was an unexpected and sudden release; the Technicolor vision behind her eyes was “evidence of another world seeping through.” To me, the “shards” refer to the well-articulated characters in this collection. They have no idea just how broken they are.

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Edition Wars

5e

5e

Dungeons & Dragons is supposed to be a fantasy game. You might descend an ancient staircase to an abandoned wizard’s chamber and ambush the slobbering goblins who lurk there. But when the game ends, the adventure stops.

Fearing that the fantasy might creep into the real world, a number of Christian groups and concerned parents have opposed D&D over the years, including my own seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Bueckman, who forbid us from playing D&D because it would invite Satan into our lives and make us run away to the woods and hack each other’s heads off. But in the 40 years that D&D has been around, most players have kept their heads. The fears have been unfounded. What happens in the dragon’s lair stays in the dragon’s lair.

Until now.

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The Honeymoon

The Honeymoon

Harvey was reminded of miniature golf courses. The large, cartoonish figures scattered around the courtyard were separated by three or four types of shrubbery and a thin chicken-wire barrier to keep out vandals and pests. Small paths branched off in different directions leading to one plaster sculpture or another. He wondered for a moment if he should feel guilty. They were gods, after all. His mind did something like a shrug.

Pearl straightened her hair in the bathroom mirror. She carefully rearranged the pieces of metal holding it in place and thought about pistons. She didn’t know much about pistons, but she imagined infinite rows of them efficiently doing their job, whatever that is.

Between Pearl and Harvey was a sign that said “Do Not Pluck Flowers.” There were no flowers to pluck, but the couple immediately thought of chickens. They did not consult one another, but they may have felt a warm camaraderie if they had.

Over a loudspeaker someone prayed in monotone in a language they didn’t understand. They’d learned only important words, like the names of a few common menu items and a polite way to say hello, but none of these words were used in the prayer, and they were not moved by the lyrics about goodness and equality, even though those subjects were exactly the kinds of things they cared about.

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Read Anything

Ex Libris

FA review tag

I picked up Ex Libris in a manner that its author would approve of: in a used bookstore. I’ve actually owned it for almost seven months, but I only got around to reading it now, because I wasn’t in love with reading for a while. If I had read it right away, I might have reconciled with it sooner.

The first collection from essayist and reporter Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader is the chronicle of a life devoted to bibliophilia. Reading, words, and books are everywhere—as obsession, addiction, and pleasure.

But Fadiman does not fall into the trap of being overly precious about books as physical objects. Her extensive collection is largely categorized and alphabetized, she would not be caught dead sorting by color and size, and it took ten years of cohabitation before she was willing to merge shelves with her husband and toss the duplicates, but she revels in marginalia, inscriptions, and the wear on used editions. As she remarks in “Never Do That To A Book” after her brother leaves a book open face down on a family vacation and a maid bookmarks it, closes it, and leaves him a scandalized note:

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Unmistakable Bulge

Unmistakable Bulge

When it’s right, it’s right and you can feel it in the air, when your bodies brush together the sparks fly and the ozone cooks; she cannot take her eyes off you, you cannot take your eyes off her, and nobody has to say a thing. As the elevator rose lurching slowly two flights, I wanted to put my hands on her shoulders and turn her toward me and watch her face tilt up and her lips part, I knew it would happen that way, that she would come in against me and I would press her against the elevator wall, and the kiss would be so hot and filled with excitement that we could slide down to the floor unknowing and clutch each other melting into one soul.

Naturally, that’s not what happened.

I didn’t lay a glove on her in the elevator. We didn’t even talk, I just looked at all that honey-ginger hair and thought about the way it would feel against my skin. When the elevator door opened and I saw the maid’s cart parked in front of my open door I wasn’t even slightly phased, but touched Sonny with the tips of my fingers at the small of her back and she moved into the suite turning up to me and smiling. My knees almost buckled from the look in her eyes.

“Be done in a minute,” the maid called from the kitchen.

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Mt. Mount Mountain

Mount Tamalpais

Mount Tamalpais

We had planned to hike the western slope of Mount Tamalpais, but in the morning we saw clouds covering the ridge, which would erase the vertiginous views of the Pacific Ocean. So we went further up the mountain, to a place called Rock Springs, and picked the first trail that led downward, hoping to bury ourselves in the folds of the mountain and find something, close up, that would rival the distant vistas to the west. We followed Cataract Creek among mossy laurel trees and chest-high river rocks, then dipped along wooden footbridges, past a stand of young redwoods, toward a windbreak called Bath’s Retreat, before climbing a rocky escarpment with stunted manzanitas.

Four things about mountains occurred to me along the way. Continue reading

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