Katie Kane, Road Kill. A story about the narrator’s mother, a woman who is “dangerous” because she “had knowledge she shouldn’t have had and none of the context for really understanding it.” We see little of the narrator save how she relates to her mother; her mother who always carries her buck knife with her, always planning to make use of dead things: a deer, a bird, a rattlesnake.
Laden with metaphor, I enjoyed this thoughtful short story more than I thought I would when I read the first two paragraphs and dismissively thought “another slice of Americana about hard lives in small towns”. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
David Naimon, Being Beneath. Playful flash fiction. Crows unsettle people, with their mysterious crow ways, language, patterns and behaviour, and they are so many in their nameless masses. What do the crows want? Why do they do what they do? What if they took it upon themselves to upend the existing order? “It’s no fun being beneath”. The allegory is obvious.
Sarah Grey, Not Today. Fictionalised narrative beginning with a snapshot of Pittsburgh’s ethnically diverse social composition and the experience of the industrial proletariat, and concluding with the 2018 mass shooting at the “Tree of Life” synagogue by Robert Bower. Not today, the wives and mothers who stay home pray, fearing the day when a loved one does not return from the mill or the mine. We can imagine the same prayer in the hearts of people today, now directed toward warding off the sadistic, nihilistic or fascistic violence of mass shooters.
Between then and now Pittsburgh is hollowed out as capital moves away, but the spiritual heart of the city remains to hold its communities together. It is a vital part of this spiritual heart that a right-wing shock jock blames for decline, and it is the distribution of such memes that drive Bower to his decision.