failbetter.com is an online magazine inspired by the quote from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” After a short break, they are now publishing again. This issue of failbetter.com offers two stories and two poems.
Ann Tashi Slater’s “Body, Tree, River Mountain / After the Tsunami” is a short piece about a man who has just suffered the loss of his father and is now trying to find a way to keep moving forward in life; “He’s traveling the bridges, alleys, dikes, streets, freeways, lanes, and byways of the world. He’s dressed in cotton trousers and a straw hat, the robes of a Zen monk, jeans and a t-shirt, shorts and a baseball cap, nothing—he is naked.”
“Observing Girl X,” by Noha Al-Badry, tells us that “If you see a girl sitting next to a public bathroom, a bag of Mars chocolate bars next to her, eating a bowl of salad big enough for three and drenched in dressing, the likelihood is, she’s not simply an eccentric hermit.” Instead of a hermit, she is an insecure young girl who, after eating all of that food, proceeds to force herself to puke it back up in the bathroom.
Kara Candito’s poem “Bestiary” succeeds in its subtleties. The last few lines speak volumes:
Does silence mean consent? Too many highballs,
bottom-feeders, one-liners; it’s like sitting at the stern
of a glass-bottom boat watching blowfish,
how they devour chunks of cheap white bread.
Also on the main page of the magazine (but from previous issues) are more stories and poems from May and June. Most notable and also worth checking out are Matt Ferner’s and Kristen Felicetti’s stories.
In Ferner’s “Choose Your Own Adventure,” you are a man who gets into a fight with your wife. In contrast to the title, you aren’t really going on an adventure; you’re going on a path in which no matter if you apologize, storm out, or try to ignore the situation, you are doomed. Here is one of the possible endings:
You run and run around your neighborhood. You listen to some music that you think is cool. You change it to something you think is cooler when you see a guy wearing cooler clothes than you wear across the street. As if he can hear that music. As if he cares what you are listening to or who you are. You turn up the music and run and run. You run. You run and run and run. But you are still awful and pointless.
Felicetti’s piece is about a “Life in Reverse,” in which “He was born an old man, his mind barely aware he’d been born.” He lives his life out, backwards, until “. . . it was over. His mind was not even aware that it was over, he only felt new, brand new, new.”
I hope that this issue means that the magazine is back on track, because I’m ready to use it as a way to continue to be introduced to new writers.