Ex Machina Press adds a new journal to the all-fiction genre with the debut of Silent Voices. The oxymoronic title is best defined by an excerpt borrowed from Isak Dinesen: “Where the storyteller is loyal, eternally and unswervingly loyal to the story, there in the end, silence will speak.” The loyalties range from the traditional to the experimental, stories of ghosts and toilet scrubbers, mad professors (“perhaps the jump from professor to career patient was not such a big one after all.”) and madder neighbors. Michelle Melon’s “Nameless,” winner of their first contest, refers to the book of names that a dying woman finds in the shack that used to be a church for slaves. Desperate to carve their names into tombstones, she hears their song and knows she is not alone. “ . . . she craves and fears the companionship they offer following the lonely, uncertain journey that lies ahead.” Raffi Kevorkian mingles with the afterlife in his parable, “Misfit.” The townspeople summon first the police, then the Der Hayr (an Armenian married priest), and finally a doctor who cannot help the man who carries his heart in his hand, a hole in his chest.
God is summoned in a theological argument between a wayward older brother and his dying kid sister in Tim Macy’s, “Prehistory.” In “Bathroom Cleaner” by Elizabeth Orndorff, a woman suffers the naïve incredulity of her grandson when she volunteers to clean the black toilets in the Jim Crow south. “McFarland” by Mark D’Anna is an insufferable neighbor who doesn’t know what to do with his senile, WWII vet father, who sits on the porch with his rifle raised whenever the narrator comes into view. The stories in the first edition are specific to their characters yet ambitious in their themes. [Silent Voices, P.O. Box 11180, Glendale, CA 91226. Single issue: $11.08 print/$9.23 download. www.exmachinapress.com] –RT Duffer