I was lucky this year to have a piece listed in Wigleaf’s Top 50, a speculative story called “The Gift” about a woman who gives birth to a horse, looks inside her daughter’s mouth and sees the universe. This odd, little narrative that is near and dear to my writer heart found a home last year at Gone Lawn, a lovely online literary journal.
I am a big fan of Wigleaf, and their Top 50, not to mention the amazing flash stories they feature (also, their postcards from authors are killer). I thought I would do a dive into the other Top 50 from this year and show some love to a few pieces that really stuck with me.
This piece lived in my stomach long after I read it. Jennifer Todhunter was able to tap into the hunger for death that can so easily follow loss. I write and read about death and grief a lot and her story has stayed with me.
I returned to this piece a few times during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. It felt like my literary baseball bat. May all art provide the same sense of fight that Meghan Phillips’ story does.
I remember this story when it was first published in Jellyfish Review, a journal I deeply admire and look to for consistently excellent work. There were sentences in this piece that make my spine tingle. For instance, “When she sings, she throws back her head and those teeth glint carrion-yellow and my heart pulses with a beautiful dread.” And, “My wife has a lover with hands of silver birch and a neck of pine.” Kathryn McMahon is easily one of my favorite flash writers.
I suppose I am partial to the speculative but Kate Barss does something in this story that sings out to every writer vein in my body. This narrative is a perfect example of what great flash can accomplish in a short space: emotional arc, vivid imagery, dark humor.
A well-written story about a bad relationship can be hard to find. Rachel Harrison, however, was able to achieve something new, tender and familiar with this piece. She writes, “I fed off of their disapproval the way you’re not supposed to.” It tugged at a part of my own history that I rarely examine and was actually able to reflect on more fully after following this protagonist’s relationship.