Friday, 1 August 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Soft Touch" by Arielle Greenberg


Soft Touch


He once got hit by a playground and it was all over for him with pockets.  He couldn’t eat breakfast for all the empty spaces.  Holes distracted him.  It was “as a child.”  But he wandered like a blank, sputtered, lost it. 
The mind is a soft substance, a kind of pudding.  Two million people have it, and it’s caused by things we think are fun.  By entertainment.  Everyone has been touched by it in some way.  Soft touch. 
When we married and I sat with him in a park or office, he would want to call me at home.  “I want to call Cathy.”  And I would say, “But I am Cathy.  I’m here.  I’m your wife.”  And he’d say, swingset, “I know you are, but I want to call the other Cathy.”  And so later at home there’d be a recording of his voice on the machine: “I just wondered what you were doing right now.”  A machine.  A recording.
Was the other Cathy living in our house like a sock, like a closet, a shadow, a snake?  Was I another Cathy?  She became a palatable oatmeal on my tongue, on his.  Me.  The other Cathy.  The other wife.  The one he’d call when I was right by him. 
“Is the other Cathy like me?” I asked him.  “Oh, no,” he said.  “You’re a lot easier to talk to.”  And I felt a little bad for Cathy then.   The other me.  But I had been the one feeding him out of my enormous pockets.  My big white blouse.  The other Cathy was just the hole in his morning meal, a fruit you open.
People get impacted by a game or a junglegym or some other form of violence and when they wander away I see them.  I guess they could be more angry, suddenly very sweet, or afraid of bridges.  In love with a thing they never knew before.  A slight shift in soup chemistry is all it takes.  And with the damage, two million alternate brothers and lovers turn, straight-mouthed, towards the dishes in the kitchen sink, waiting for the call.  




"Soft Touch" originally appeared in Arielle Greenberg's first collection, Given (Wave Books, 2002), which you can learn more about on her website here









Friday, 25 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of the World's Largest Multilevel Parking Garage" by Cathy Park Hong



Here is the last selection from "Adventures in Shangdu," the eleventh of 17 pieces.


Of the World's Largest Multilevel Parking Garage


When Officials ignored their strike, the crane operators decided to be more aggressive. They worked all night. The next morning, train carriages, buses, limousines, bicycles, boats, and even helicopters swung lazily in the wind, magnetized by cranes. Negotiate, they cried, and we will free all your vehicles. Finally, Officials promised to bargain but when meeting day approached, the army rushed into the bargaining room and all the operators conveniently disappeared. Until Shangdu finds a new generation of qualified crane operators, no one knows how to work the cranes and release the vehicles. The magnetized vehicles sway in the breeze, rust in the rain. One driver was drunkenly passed out when they lifted his taxi up into the night. He has lost his voice, calling out to the shuddering city.


You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of the Old Ukrainian Embassy That Will Be Torn Down for the Hanger Factory" by Cathy Park Hong

Here is the second prose poem from Cathy Park Hong's "Adventures in Shangdu," the ninth of 17 pieces.


Of the Old Ukrainian Embassy That Will Be Torn Down for the Hanger Factory


Boomtown is Shangdu's brand name. How do you like Boomtown Shangdu? Everyday, 2,000 more people flood into Shangdu to work in our 2,000 factories. Do you know why? Shangdu is booming! Guides will say that twenty years ago, there was nothing but a gas station and a few scattered pig farms along the river. I was one of the few born in Shangdu and it is true what they say about the farms but the guides do not mention how Officials used to dump all the cripples from the Capital into Shangdu. Now that Shangdu is booming, they have rounded all the cripples and exiled them to a remote outpost up north. That outpost is also beginning to boom.


Cathy Park Hong


You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of Lucky Highrise Apartment 88" by Cathy Park Hong



"Adventures in Shangdu," from Engine Empire, is comprised of 17 prose poems. Here is the first one.


Of Lucky Highrise Apartment 88


The contractors were in a hurry to catch up with the rest of the world so they rushed off before they finished building Highrise 88. So here is my apartment without its last wall, gaping out to a panoramic view of Shangdu's river. Across the river, all the white-tiled factories hum anxiously. This hum of 2,000 factories can inspire or drive you mad. Yesterday, a drunk man and a suicide used 88's unencumbered views to fall to their deaths and now there are ads for new roommates. I am one of the few women who live alone in this building. My last roommate married as quickly as she moved in with me. I see her in the neighborhood, pregnant and gloating, with men who fetch her footstools.



You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can--and hopefully will--buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link--it's 25% off at the time of posting!


Monday, 30 June 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014

National Flash Fiction Day is here

It's National Flash Fiction Day, and my increased attention to my fiction is manifesting in two ways. My story, "Break," appears in FlashFlood (here's the link), an online flood of flashes just for today, and tonight I'll read at The Lansdown in Bristol with a host of other flash fiction writers, including Tania Hershman and my Bath Spa colleague Lucy English. The reading begins at 7 p.m. and is free, so come along if you're near!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Sudden Prose Student Success!

The 2013-14 Sudden Prose module has had its first publication success! Congratulations go to Collette Lord, whose short-short story from the module, "The New Dog," will appear on the National Flash Fiction Day's FlashFlood website, http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.co.uk/, between one and two a.m. on National Flash Fiction Day (the 21st).