SSM – Day Two

Short Story MonthLet’s get right down to business, shall we?


#04 – “The Metaphor is Dead—Pass It On” by Carol Shields, from Various Miracles. A short story that’s more of a hyper-self-aware comedy skit than anything else. It begins with:

“The metaphor is dead,” bellowed the gargantuan professor, his walrus mustache dancing and his thundery eyebrows knitting together rapaciously. “Those accustomed to lunching at the high table of literature will now be able to nosh at the trough on a streamlined sub minus the pickle. Banished is that imperial albatross, that dragooned double agent, that muddy mirror lit by the false flashing signal like and by that even more presumptuous little sugar lump as. The gates are open, and the prisoner, freed of his shackles, has departed without so much as a goodbye wave to those who would take a simple pomegranate and insist it be the universe.

Classic, man, classic.


#05 – “The Girl Who Became a Fish” by Fidelis Angela C. Tan, from the Guilty Pleasure Special Issue of Heights. I wanted to be in this issue so bad, haha. Anyway. Although for the life of my inane little brain I cannot figure out what exactly is “guilty pleasure” about this – the genre? crazy relatives? the desire to get away and be something else, anything else? – I loved this story. I think it’s one of the best stories in the issue. And I say that with no bitterness. Darn it, haha.

It’s a little sad story about a little girl. And she became fish. And you have to read it because it will make you smile, then make your lips tremble because it’s all so sad, and then it’ll make you giggle a little, and then it’ll make you smile because you still, after all, believe in happy endings. Even of the fishy sort. (Oh, god, don’t even dare pun.)


#06 – “Family” by Bret Lott, from The Difference Between Men and Women. I got this book while I made tambay (like, yeah) at National Bookstore (because that’s what all the cool kids do), while P. was off gallivanting/being responsible. I felt cheated when I started reading it, haha. Because with that title, I thought I was in for my usual Domestic Hullaballoo, but no – Bret Lott is bizarre, with a good dose of hyperrealism thrown in. I had no idea what I was getting into.

“Family” is the first story of the collection, and it begins with: In the heat of the fight, they forgot about the children. It had potential, I must stay, and I’ve always been very judgmental of the opening lines of written work – it must be the Thesis Statement Mentality in me, thanks Ateneo Philo. As the story chugged along – the parents scrambling around the house for the places they’d last seen the children, and the places where the kids usually hung out – there was a very simple, very evocative stream of consciousness spilling from the parents’ minds as they scrambled.

And then they found the children in the cooler. Yes, the cooler. The carry-on kind where you keep your beer and ice candy. That kind of cooler.

I don’t know how it happened. We just suddenly veered off to the husband knowing where the children might be – boys and girls, if your children go missing, would the cooler be on the top of your list of Where to Look? It was strange. It was strange. It was strange. The children were tiny, Barbie- and G.I. Joe-sized (I appreciate the organic-ness though; when the mother had found an empty bedroom, she mused on the Barbies and G.I. Joes strewn about). The daughter was doing aerobics, and the son was watching TV. And they were grown up. And I was so weirded out. I read through the end with my face constantly in its WTF Mode.

Maybe this is its appeal, its genius? That the reader wasn’t warned?

And. Is this Speculative Fiction?

I really am scratching my head here.



About Sasha Martinez

Her sins were scarlet, but her books were read.

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