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The Fiddlehead – Summer 2007

“It makes me mad,” writes Mark Jarman, fiction editor of The Fiddlehead. “The story has such a great tradition and it’s being turfed as if it’s a regrettable hairstyle.”

“It makes me mad,” writes Mark Jarman, fiction editor of The Fiddlehead. “The story has such a great tradition and it’s being turfed as if it’s a regrettable hairstyle.”

If it’s true that today’s marketplace encourages abandonment of short fiction – pushing more and more authors toward novels or nonfiction books – then this issue waves the short story banner with a convincing flourish. These stories represent more than entertainment; they are a testament to the range of which the short fiction genre is capable. Plot, setting, character, theme, situation – all are richly varied to provide an experience not only of particular stories but of the story as a form. While some selections tread the familiar waters of relationship triangles and disillusionment (“The Pool Man,” Patricia Young; “Radio Who,” Julie Paul; “Certainties,” Jasmina Odor, etc.), others crystallize around strange, often offbeat matters. Gavin J. Babstock’s deceptively wacky “The Landing” uses a neglected patio as a foil for a couple’s very real discontentment: “If our hands happened to brush together while we were organizing the patio, we’d shy away from each other, embarrassed as teenagers on a first date. The only thing missing was our innocence.” Lorna Drew’s “Up in the Air and Down” is a study of the contrast between public and private meaning. The mathematically conceived “binary” by Anik See rewards with inventive narration and the pitting of cold logic against emotion. Kenneth Bonert’s unforgettable “White Flight” is a tour-de-force no lover of fiction should miss. Bonert, a master of pace and plot turns, is also blessed with a gift for image: “Marcus had chosen to kill people for a living [. . .] Or was he, as I suspected, born innately cold within, like a crystal stone birthed by a flame, lying somehow ever frigid despite the litter bed of red coals packed all around [. . .]”

The Fiddlehead – sometimes delicate, sometimes raw – never strays from its commitment to “freshness and surprise.” And that passionate editorial by Mark Jarman? It should be printed in newspapers, framed or bronzed – to be read and re-read in case of multimedia excess by anyone who still finds language useful.
[www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/Fiddlehead]

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