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November Feature: Tara L Masih, Tim Jones, Gail Ingram and Leanne Radojkovich


Interview: Tim Jones talks with Best Small Fictions Series Editor Tara L Masih

This month, Tim Jones talks with Tara L Masih about her editing and writing, as well as women and flash and what makes a compressed story compelling.
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Tim Jones: Tara, I know you from your role as series editor of the annual Best Small Fictions series, but a visit to your website shows that you are a very busy author, essayist, editor and anthologist. How do you balance your time between all those activities?

Tara L Masih: I work as a freelance book editor, which allows great flexibility in my schedule. Editing Best Small Fictions does overlap with other projects, but most of the work is done in the winter so I have the rest of the year to work on my own writing. My son is in college, and once he became more independent, I had fewer problems finding that quiet space that’s needed to create. The bigger challenge now is squeezing in promotion time. All books need a good chunk of time to promote, if you can’t afford or don’t have your own publicist. That’s my biggest challenge, juggling two hours of promotion a day sometimes with general life stuff and work and writing. I’m not very active on Facebook and am not on Twitter, and that’s one way I can manage these multiple projects. Sometimes I have to choose between a post that might help a book sell or time toward my craft.

TJ: Have you written small fictions from the beginning of your writing career, or is this an interest that you have developed over the course of your career as a writer?

TLM: I have written them from early on. I was trained to write in what we called vignettes in the late 1970s to early 1980s. While other writers were discovering small fictions, I was struggling to learn how to make my stories last longer than a few pages. It took me many years. But here I am at age 53 and I’ve finally finished a young adult novel. My agent is currently shopping it around. It took me 30 years to finally be able to write 50,000 words on one subject!

TJ: Best Small Fictions has you as a series editor, but then each edition also has a guest editor and a number of consulting and roving editors. How do the various categories of editors work together?

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TLM: The anonymous roving editors work independently throughout the year, looking for work that might get overlooked. They are extremely important to the project because we don’t yet have the reach to get to all the journals that exist out there and not all publishers nominate. I’m the first screener in the process. I read every nomination and narrow them down to several hundred. Then I work with a team of editors and we get the nominations down to a couple hundred. Some are clear-cut finalists, due to skill or topic and originality, some need to go to our annual rotating consulting editors who select or advise on their batch of nominations, and help us get to that final 100. We also have a general advisory board for the first time this year, who will further lend their expertise on evaluating stories we are having trouble deciding on. And I also have two assistant editors, Michelle Elvy and Mel Bosworth (Mel is replacing Clare MacQueen, who has become our haibun story and tanka prose in-house expert). It’s a long, involved process, and we hope that with so many stages and opinions, we are providing as much objectivity as we can. Final judging, to that end, is blind.

TJ: Let’s say I’m a New Zealand writer who sometimes writes flash fiction … wait a minute, I am! If my aim in life is to get a story published in Best Small Fictions, what’s the best way of going about it?

TLM: I think the first thing any writer has to do is not make it the goal to get into one of these collections. The main goal should be to work hard on your craft so you are continually improving. Knowing you can always improve is a huge step toward improving. Try to be original in some way, either in topic, voice, style. Find yourself through your writing, and likely editors will appreciate what you send them, publish it, and perhaps feel it’s worthy of nomination. If you have a story you feel might be worthy, published in a journal that has not previously sent nominations to BSF, send them the guidelines for submission and don’t ask them to nominate you, but to consider sending 5 nominations.

TJ: More generally, you have written the award-winning The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. Without asking you to give all the book’s secrets away, what are three key things a writer of flash/small fictions should focus on in their writing?

TLM: Concision, smart surprise (as coined by Jennifer Pieroni) and perhaps a sense of yearning (as described by Robert Olen Butler).

TJ: In your foreword to Best Small Fictions 2016, you note that more women were nominated for inclusion than men, and you say, “Perhaps flash is the one equalizer in the publishing industry.” Why do you think that this is the case with flash fiction?

TLM: Thanks for asking me about that. We have more women represented than men in 2016. I can’t really say why we are getting more nominations. It’s too new, this discovery, and I don’t know if it’s throughout the flash world or just for BSF. I can take a stab and guess that it might be for a couple of reasons. One being that it’s a time factor. In our culture the burden (or gift) of parenting still mainly falls on women, leaving men more time to write those long American novels and stories. They get more support through grants and academia (I know many women who are unable to go to writing colonies because they can’t leave their kids behind). It could be that women are discovering the form because they can squeeze in a story here and there between errands and jobs and chauffeuring and don’t need grants to write a few hundred words. I think it might also be possible that the form works well for women in that these small stories need a powerful emotional push to make an impact in a small space. I find women are more willing in small fictions to tackle emotional subjects. Quite a few men whose work we’ve judged come at the form as more of an exercise, an attempt to be clever or to play with the form in some way. Sometimes that works well and we’ve honored those stories, but often they don’t hold up to, say, a story like ‘Before She Was a Memory’ by Emma Bolden, which continues to be recognized as a brilliant small fiction; it tackles the subject of a mother identifying her daughter at a morgue. Dark, but incredibly powerful. In under 1,000 words.

TJ: Do you see an ethnic and cultural diversity in writers nominated – and if not, are there ways that diversity could be increased?

Amy Hempel will guest edit The Best Small Fictions 2017
TLM: No, I don’t see enough ethnic diversity, and it’s very disappointing to me as a person of color. We want more. The roving editors look out for these stories, but we don’t see a great deal of small fictions by people of color being published. I think this is probably a class statement. Writing is in many cases a luxury. You need time to write. You need access to books and education and workshops. You need to feel comfortable attending an all-white workshop. You need to be welcomed into the mostly white writing community and encouraged to use your voice. That doesn’t always happen. I think it’s too simplistic to always blame editors for just picking white males. Of course that is a problem, and it is improving, but we also need to look further back at the system that is denying the arts to underprivileged youths, or to our culture which doesn’t value the arts as a vocation, or doesn’t welcome enough diverse stories. We also want to see small fictions nominations for BSF from more international sources.

TJ: What is coming up in the next few months, both for yourself as a writer and anthologist, and for the Best Small Fictions series?

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TLM: Best Small Fictions is moving to Braddock Avenue Books, a small press out of Pittsburgh, run by Jeffrey Condran and Robert Peluso. They have published authors such as Gary Fincke and Aubrey Hirsch. We are excited to see how the series will continue to evolve in their hands. The book will be redesigned and distributed through SPD, which will help increase our visibility. And we have Amy Hempel judging for 2017. I’m looking forward to working with our first woman guest editor. As for myself, I have plenty to work on, but always, always will be writing small fictions!

Thanks for your questions.

Story link: For a link to an audio story by Tara, please go here: http://taramasih.com/_assets/mp3/those-shorts-2015.mp3. ‘Those Shorts’ originally appeared in Counterexample Poetics, and is read in the above link by voice actor Elijah Lucian.

Thanks to Tim Jones and Tara L Masih for this conversation!

Tara MasihTara L Masih is editor of the bestselling Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle (both ForeWord Books of the Year), as well as Series Editor of The Best Small Fictions anthology. Her acclaimed short story collection, Where the Dog Star Never Glows, mixes both standard-length short stories and short-short stories.

Book Feature: Tim Jones’ New Sea Land (Mākaro Press 2016)

Flash Frontier: The title of your new collection, New Sea Land, gives the reader a hint at both the wordplay and complexities to be encountered in the collection. Can you speak a little about that here at the top? About these three words separately and then together – what they mean for the collection, and for you?

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Tim Jones: The original working title of this collection was “Land. Sea. Shore.”, and the poems were organised into those sections. Mary McCallum of Mākaro Press, my excellent editor and publisher, questioned whether the book needed those divisions, and although I took some convincing, I think she was right. Losing those section headings allowed us to move poems around into a more natural order book in the book – and if you look closely you’ll find an interior illustration on p. 33 that serves as a de facto section header. These are, indeed, poems of the land, sea, and shore – but especially in the poems originally conceived as fitting in the ‘Shore’ section, they are also about the changing relationship between the sea and the land, as mediated by climate change and sea level rise. Hence the new title, which of course is also a pun! (After naming the book, I subsequently discovered that this is not the first time this title has been used – but although it’s an oldie, it’s a goodie!)

FF: In the opening poem, we are reminded that maps are not only about the exact location of places and the mileage between. We start with a boy following a map, and the world unfolding not always as it seems. It feels like a very New Zealand poem, and yet there is a kind of universal message underneath. Can you talk more about that?

TJ: That opening poem, ‘Maps’, serves several functions. It’s a callback to a number of the poems in my first and second collections, Boat People (2001) and All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens (2007), many of which cover similar territory both literally and metaphorically; it serves as an acknowledgement of mana whenua; and it grounds the poems in this book, which at least superficially are less personal than the poems in my three previous collections, in my own personal experience.

FF: The poems in this collection reveal humans and nature out of balance. ‘Dogger Bank’, ‘Sacrifices’, ‘Kraken or The Last Days of the Coastal Property Boom’, for example, plus many more. In that way, these are very much poems for our millennium, with immediate relevance. Topics that come under your critical eye include the wasted environment, economic blunders and the folly of politics. How do you think your poetry has evolved over time? Or is this how your own poetry has evolved over time? Thinking back to Men Briefly Explained, comparing your earlier poems to this volume; this feels heavier in the hand, more pointed in its message. Is this intentional or a reflection of the man behind the words?

TJ: I think it’s more that Men Briefly Explained (2011) is the outlier in terms of subject matter and tone. While my earlier collections have elements of humour, I was deliberately employing more humour in the poems in Men Briefly Explained – though the political elements are there also. Those first two collections also contain quite a lot of political poetry, and landscape poetry, and political landscape poetry!

But my first two collections were assembled by taking poems I’d written independently and then finding an order for them. In Men Briefly Explained, and even more so in New Sea Land, most of the poems were written purposely with this collection in mind, and so I knew from the start that I wanted to focus on the themes you’ve identified – climate change and sea level rise most of all – and wrote specific poems to explore them.

FF: There is an underpinning dissonance and violence in the lines of these poems. Rebelling voices, wailing sirens, the rising sea. And yet there is also a calm at times, like in the resolution of ‘Lyall Bay Farewell’: a sense that letting go is alright. How do you reconcile both of these things with our human existence? And how does writing, for you, bring all the necessary messages to the page?

TJ: The times we live in are almost proverbially interesting, and climate change is one of the things that makes them most interesting – and that level of “interest” will be increasing for a long time yet, even if the nations and citizens of the world finally manage to get their act together and take effective action to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control before it’s too late – and that’s a very big “if”, especially what (at the time of writing) appears to be the outcome of the US presidential election. While the poems have different moods, this isn’t a collection that is especially interested in reconciliation: it’s more interested in opening eyes.

FF: Can you address more specifically the following themes and poems that catch our attention…

The tension of not-knowing in ‘Landlines’

TJ: This is another poem that is based entirely on personal experience. At the time of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, my Dad and step-mum lived in Christchurch, in a part of Christchurch heavily affected by the quake – and because they depended on landlines, and the lines were down, I had no idea whether they had survived, or how or where they were. So the tension I tried to communicate in this poem, written only a few days after the quake, is the tension I felt as I tried to find out, using every means at my disposal, what had happened to them. In fact, their home head been barely touched, and they were able to help neighbours who had been worse affected – but the not-knowing was agonising.

FF: The use of second person in ‘Crossing the lake above the dam’

TJ: There are a few poems in this collection that use second person. For me, the use of third, second and first person in a poem is mainly about the degree of emotional distance I want to establish between me as the “I’ of the poet and the protagonist I’m writing about – so “I” is closest to me (emotionally, at least), “you” a little further away. I go with whatever feels right for the tone of the poem, and here, second person felt right to me.

FF: The use of sound – and the moment of optimism – in ‘What We Built’

TJ: The melancholy sound of the wind whistling around abandoned buildings, or distant peaks, has always affected me strongly, and in this poem, I pushed that image a little further, comparing the music of the living city with the music of the dead city. Think something like “Song of the High Hills” by Delius, but with the added pathos of the hills being hills of concrete and masonry, not stone.

FF: The use of repetition in ‘Not for me the sunlit uplands’ – and the focus on the details

TJ: Most of the poems in this book are about what happens if we don’t tackle climate change. This poem is about the grind of tackling it. Our insane economic system means that perfectly rational people (at least, they think they’re rational people) think it’s perfectly rational to continue to plan new coal mines, and new airport runways, and new motorways, even though all of those things lead to increasing greenhouse gas emissions and, if unchecked, to runaway climate change. Stopping these crazy fuckers and their crazy projects is hard, relentless work.

FF: The image of the novelist, those arms outstretched, in the aftermath of destruction in ‘Memorial’ (and that killer last image)

TJ: It’s probably true to say that I’m being a bit harsh on Jonathan Franzen in this poem. Nevertheless, he has said that the focus on climate change was coming at the expense of bird conservation, and I think that’s a silly argument. Bird conservation is very important to me, but if the climate is cooked, birds are going to be very severly affected along with anything else. If you carve out one aspect of the natural world to protect, and ignore the rest, your efforts will be futile in the end.

FF: The sense of irony and humour in ‘10 Things Scientists Get Wrong About Atlantis (And One Thing They Don’t)’

TJ: I’m not all doom and gloom, so I wanted to include some lighter poems in the collection. This one is modelled on those Internet click bait articles that have titles like “Ten Things President Trump Said (You Won’t Believe #9!)”. Of course, there is some ironic doom and gloom in there too…

FF: The urgency of movement in ‘Spitsbergen’

TJ: If we get to the point of European climate refugees trying to escape by boat to the lands of the Arctic, we really will be in a whole heap of trouble.

FF: Having looked more closely at a few of the individual poems, we wonder: what was the most challenging poem to write in this collection?

TJ: The one that took the most work was ‘If Noah Had Carpenters’. I was trying to skate the fine line between sarcastic and sacrilegious, and it took me a lot of drafts to get the balance I was looking for – especially in how the poem ends.

FF: And do you have a favourite?

TJ: My two favourites in the collection are ‘With Captain Cook and Dracula to Kealakekua Bay’ and ‘Kraken’. One of my aims for this collection was to write some poems that are longer and more complex than those I usually write, and I’m particularly happy with what I’ve achieved with these two.

FF: The collection opens with useless maps that prove essential and a rubber ring, a hand extended for rescue. Can you tell us more about the general narrative arc of this collection? Do you feel, when all is said and done, that this final note is one of urgent necessity, or optimism and hope?

TJ: The general arc of this collection is from the comparative – although shaky – stability of the present to the possible extreme instability of the future – instability which it may still be in our power to prevent or at least lessen, had we only the will and determination to do so. I wanted to finish on a note that suggests there is still some hope, and that it lies most of all in compassion, exercised on both a personal and planetary level.

FF: And finally, because we’re here at Flash Frontier discussing poetry and narrative: some of these poems read like small stories. In ‘Dominion’, for example, we see an entire day unfold, perhaps as a parallel to a lifetime. In ‘Landlines’, we feel the urgency of the moment. In ‘Afternoon, late summer’ we feel the sense of resolution and resignation of the central character. ‘If Noah had carpenter’ is a fun and imaginative story with a terrific final image winking at the reader, and the story of Captain Cook and Dracula is a marvellous re-thinking of those two on the high seas. Meanwhile, ‘What We Built’ feels as much like a compressed story as poetry. We know you move nimbly between prose and poetry, Tim, so we wonder: how do you know when something is a poem, and something else is a small piece of prose? How does a story flow from your pen, and arrange itself on the page?

TJ: I know this is a frustrating answer, but when I have an idea, it usually feels like either a prose idea or a poem idea. (I have on a few occasions tried using the same idea in both forms, but I’m usually considerably more satisfied with one approach than the other.) But lyric poetry is a pretty small subset of poetry as a whole, and the tradition of poetry as narrative goes back a long way before the lyric poem – so I’m happy to tell a story in a story, but also happy to tell it in a poem.
(C)Mark Tantrum, All rights reserved
(C)Mark Tantrum, All rights reserved
Tim Jones is a poet and author who was awarded the New Zealand Society of Authors’ Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. He has published one novel, two short story collections, and four poetry collections, and has co-edited two poetry anthologies. His latest poetry collection is New Sea Land (Mākaro Press, 2016).

People In Our Pages: Gail Ingram and her winning graffiti poetry project

Last month, Christchurch writer and Massey University Master of Creative Writing student Gail Ingram won New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry competition for her poem, ‘The Canvas’. The poem is part of a collection she is writing for her thesis called ‘The Graffiti Artist’ and can be found in the Poetry Society’s anthology published this month.

gail-ingram-reading-at-nffd-2016We know Gail from the pages of Flash Frontier, where her flash fictions have appeared frequently, and where she’s also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best Small Fictions anthology. We’ve grown accustomed to the quality of her work, and her beautifully crisp short fiction is also included in this month’s issue.

We’re excited that Gail joins us here to tell us a little more about her project.

Gail Ingram in her own words…

For the last eighteen months I’ve been working on a series of poems called ‘The Graffiti Artist’, which was part of my thesis project for my Masters degree in Creative Writing at Massey University. I was inspired by a graphic for a graffiti art exhibition held in Christchurch after the earthquakes. The picture was made up of panels, each its own colour, tone, style, yet each adding to the whole effect. I thought I could structure my poems this way, each poem separate but also informing the whole. This seemed particularly apt because my life itself seemed to be a juxtaposition of oppositions: myself as a mother and a poet pitted against the economic viability of these positions, my teenage children’s lives in their own tenuous positions pitted against the lives they might have, my home-city Christchurch before and after the quakes. I was interested too in how graffiti art, a juxtaposition of terms itself, had risen out of something broken but also played a part in our healing. How did this odd juxtaposition work at expressing something both disturbing and beautiful?

‘Spectrum’ Street Art at YMCA, Christchurch 2015 - from streetart.co.nz
‘Spectrum’ Street Art at YMCA, Christchurch 2015 – from streetart.co.nz

The technique I explored then was the juxtaposition of contrasting forces for poetic effect. Traditionally, a poem has brought contrasting images together to create a metaphor that represents an internal experience, whereas I looked at bringing contrasting discourses together. I read some great poems: Sarah Jane Barnett’s ‘Mountains’ (which brings together the discourses of narrative and poetry), and Laura Mullen’s genre-bending poem ‘Torch Song’ (which juxtaposes academic, technical, court and journalistic languages). Since I was interested in using narrative elements in my poems to link them as well as other discourses that might impact on character, I had to work out what a poem does as opposed to, say, what a narrative or a piece of technical writing does, then I could accommodate these other ‘languages’ into my poetry. One critic I read said that we perceive the experience of the poem from the inside, whereas with fiction or drama we watch the events and characters develop. In other words, poets organize the language to create a ‘virtual experience’, whereas fiction writers organize the characters and events to show us an experience. In my poems then, I wanted to know how to create this internal experience for the reader through the use of language rather than the development of plot and character.

2016-gail-and-paintI aimed to use this technique – juxtaposing contrasting discourses and/or narrative events – across single poems and across the whole collection. For example, across a poem, in ‘Mother reads the First Aid Manual’ I juxtapose prose elements – the column layout and found language from a first aid manual – with more traditional poetic language like ‘laughter-lines congealed’. The language of the first aid manual isn’t used in the ‘normal’ way – to instruct – but hopefully does something more poetical; it represents the mother’s state of mind, while also highlighting the limitations of any single discourse to express the complexity of a particular feelingful experience. Across the whole collection, I juxtaposed many separate narrative and discourse strands, which nevertheless keep returning to a particular moment, that of my graffiti artist/mother painting a wall illegally at night. The separate poems address different aspects of how and why she got to this point. The last poem ‘Dendrites’ brings together some of the narrative strands. I hope you enjoy!


Mother reads First Aid Manual while crouching on the floor beside the bookshelf

Bleeding Teens:
A teen is an injury. There may be a lot of blood. Her husband’s laughter-lines congealed mid-sentence one day. Wipe away. Peers that offend. Apply pressure. They’re trying. Protect yourself. Not just yourself. Elevate. Both children need attention at once. Why us? They place their hands in plastic bags. Wounds may be open. Family. Shouting may be severe. Assessment: No visible signs will be found. Bongs or knives. She searches. Insufficient Love supply can result in swagger and rap, a loss of reality. “The little shit.” Head between your legs and breathe. Search and search. Shock will build. Dirty washing piles. The day they discovered. Apply curfew pressure. Do not. An orthodontist appointment was a lie for bunking. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I don’t see. The voices of the family oscillate. Pull edges to meet. Ask someone to call an ambulance (see p.18). “The website will offer an answer.” Clammy and down. What? Signs are a pulsing hunger and red eyes. Maintain control. There’s a brown stain on the carpet.

(first published in 2016 NZPS Anthology, Penguin Days)


Dendrites

When the four-cornered skyline under the floating hammer of the Alps fell into piles of grey rubble and liquid, the folds and depressions from above looked to be forming intestinal clumps of grey matter.

In amongst the shifting build-ups, a son gurgled tunes of teen rebellion on water pipes; his brother dragged nails down precipitous scales of academic heights leaving blood-streaked trails, while their father grasped for papers and docs, tossed in the air like dust, and their mother picked up the silt of their wounds till it got too much, till

everything slid into fissures of grey, the university, billboards and shops. Then the people in a daze were seen branching outwards onto the streets, waving blind fingers, sending clumsy crackling connections, creating

new fuzzy pathways around the city.

(an earlier version of ‘Dentrites’ was published in Leaving the Red Zone: Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes)

About Gail Ingram…
 


People In Our Pages: Leanne Radojkovich, on her first story collection

leanne-rFirst fox is a collection of very short fictions about men, women and children trying to find a perch in precarious times. Characters include a spinster who becomes a mother at 79, a missing woman who returns to her daughter as sunlight on a patch of grass, a refugee who can’t get off the sofa in the new world and another who masters the new world with skills from the old.

Some stories in the collection are tinged with the dark dreamlike qualities of urban folk tales, while others are told in a more realist register firing on tactile language and metaphor.

The collection comes out from bijoux UK publisher The Emma Press in May 2017 – although it’s more of a short-short collection as all the stories are under 1000 words. I’ve loved Emma Press’s award-winning poetry pamphlets since I came across them about three years ago. Their content and covers were fresh and vibrant and it was a pleasure turning touch-lovely pages (I’m a geek for high-quality paper). I’d long dreamed of having such a beautifully designed and produced collection of my stories. After exclusively publishing poetry, The Emma Press included prose in their 2015 submissions call. I sent in a short story m/s called “Happiness”. That m/s didn’t get selected but it was shortlisted, and the title story went on to be highly commended in the Takahé Short Story Competition.
This year I sent in another m/s – “First fox”.

I was stunned to be included in The Emma Press schedule for 2017 along with so many wonderful writers based in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. And it feels pretty special that they’re launching their new prose list with “First fox” alongside “Postcard Stories” by Irish author Jan Carson.

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My title story received the 2nd prize in the National Flash Fiction Day contest 2015. Others in the collection have been placed in North & South magazine’s Short, Short Story competition and Ireland’s Fish Flash Fiction Prize. Some of the stories have also appeared online and in print in USA, UK and NZ. Having these altogether in one place, along with more recent work, really is a dream come true.


Excerpt from The Back of Beyond

One day, Gran was upstairs perched in her comfy chair, smoking, when she had a stroke. After a stay in hospital she came home and spent more time upstairs, with the best view of the sea. She smoked more, drank more sherry, and at some point never went down the stairs again. “My legs are filled with sand,” she’d say to the girl. “If you chucked me in the water, I’d drown.” When Aunty Deb rang, Gran laughed her hard smoker’s laugh and told her, “I’ve been out dancing.”

“Are you there?” she’d call for the girl, day and night. “Are you there?”

“Coming, Gran.”

The girl brought her cups of tea and eggs on toast, and emptied the chamber pot. She had to bike to the store in-between taking orders. The garden went to seed. The girl began talking to the kettle.
This went on for a long time, or a short time, the girl couldn’t tell.

“Are you there?”

“Coming, Gran.”

“Are you there?”


Excerpt from The Bookkeeper’s Tale

The daughter never had a boyfriend but the father had lots of girlfriends, both before her mother died and after. He’d given her mother veedee, which caused arguments – years later, in sex ed, the daughter realised what that strange word meant. A boiling shame shot into the roots of her hair. Poor Mama had journeyed across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans to live on a crumb of land at the bottom of the globe for him. She’d worn plaits across the top of her head. At bedtime, she’d unpin them and tickle the daughter with their paint-brush ends. They’d giggle and roll around until father shouted, “Enough! I’m working.”

“He has big personality,” mother repinned her hair. “He is Great Dane. Husky. Need plenty exercise.”

“Are we dogs, too, Mama?”

“We are cats.”

About Leanne Radojkovich…
 

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