Majnun Ben-David
                     writer

New Yorker Note: The Ways

Among new short stories, those published each week in The New Yorker likely have the largest readership. My idea is to post a few thoughts on each New Yorker story as they are published. We’ll see if this idea solidifies into a weekly habit or dissipates into an “I-used-to.”

This week’s story is “
The Ways” by Colin Barrett, a relatively new Irish author whose first book “Young Skins” (a collection of short stories, natch) won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The book is available from The Stinging Fly Press in Ireland and will be published in the US this coming March. Click here to see the full post...
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Phrases I Liked: Danielle McLaughlin

Periodically I will read some short stories by a contemporary author and post a few of my favorite phrases from them.

This week's author is Danielle McLaughlin, who has published a dozen or more short stories in magazines and journals, winning a dozen or more awards along the way (numbers approximate). Her first book, a collection of short stories, will be published in 2015 by The Stinging Fly Press. McLaughlin, who lives in Cork and writes in what I’d call the Irish realist style, first came to my attention with her excellent story “The Dinosaurs on Other Planets” in The New Yorker. McLaughlin began writing in 2009, and is definitely a writer to watch.

Now for some phrases I really liked in her work ...
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My Own Work: A County Without Weather

I’m happy to report that a very short story of mine, “A County Without Weather,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It was nominated by Twelve Winters Press and Ted Morrissey, who kindly published it in their excellent anthology [Ex]tinguished & [Ex]tinct: An Anthology of Things that No Longer [Ex]ist, edited by John McCarthy.

My story is below, or click
here to get it in various formats, but I’d really encourage you to check out the anthology and its mix of short fiction and poetry (just $6 for the e-reader version). It centers on a compelling theme, and McCarthy and colleagues interpreted “extinguished and extinct” in broad terms, going beyond the ecological in directions you might not anticipate, but will likely enjoy. McCarthy discusses his vision for the anthology here.

Oh, and about the
Pushcart Prize nomination ... well over a thousand writers get nominated for it every year. Every independent press gets to nominate six pieces (short stories or poetry) they’ve published, plus Pushcart guest editors can also nominate work. So actually winning a Pushcart Prize or getting a Special Mention? A very big deal, as that’s one of the most prestigious honors around for short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry (and thus the annual Pushcart Prize volume makes for great reading). Simply being nominated? It’s kind of a big deal to me personally, especially as I’m a relatively new writer and this was the first piece of mine that’s even been eligible for a Pushcart. But in broader terms, it’s not an exclusive honor. So while I very much appreciate it, I wouldn’t want to overstate it either, as pointed out in this rant here (but see the comments section there for some thoughtful dissenting views).

Without further ado, here’s my (very short) story ...
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New Yorker Note: The Start of the Affair

Among new short stories, those published each week in The New Yorker likely have the largest readership. My idea is to post a few thoughts on each New Yorker story as they are published. We’ll see if this idea solidifies into a weekly habit or dissipates into an “I-used-to.”

This week’s story is
“The Start of the Affair” by Nuruddin Farah, the celebrated Somali author perhaps best known for his Blood in the Sun trilogy. Click here to see the full post...
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What We Can Learn: "Notable" Books

'Tis the season for year-end lists. Splashy features on web and print joyously proclaim tidings of books notable and best-of. Listen carefully, though, and along with the carols of acclaim you'll hear the rattle of chains. The Ghost of Rankings Past appears, dragging his burdensome links, bemoaning his fate. For he (and yes, it most definitely is a "he") is eternally consigned to debtor's prison, impoverished by the idea that works of art can be picked like stocks. Click here to see the full post...
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New Yorker Note: Savage Breast

Among new short stories, those published each week in The New Yorker likely have the largest readership. My idea is to post a few thoughts on each New Yorker story as they are published. We’ll see if this idea solidifies into a weekly habit or dissipates into an “I-used-to.”

This week’s story is
“Savage Breast” by Elizabeth McKenzie, author of a novel and a story collection. Click here to see the full post...
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