Dear Quiet Reading World,
Three years ago, I decided to write a short story based on the various anecdotes and flashbacks from the Old Country (Slovakia), all retold to me throughout my life by my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. After a long wait, “Plum Blood Red” is finally alive and ready for your eyes, having been recently published in Clarion 19.
Read “Plum Blood Red” here
At the council of Editor Zachary Bos, I’ve included a brief author’s note, which I’m sharing with you here for context. Thank you for reading my work, should you choose to.
Author’s note. This story is very loosely based on my grandmother’s telling of her experiences in the time immediately following the exit of Axis forces from Czechoslovakia near the end of the war; my great-grandmother’s, too—may she rest in peace. Some of the details, such as the partisans sneaking down during the war to eat and drink at the cantina, setting their ammunition belts down; the disappearance of the Jewish family; and the appearance of Ukrainians among the Nazi ranks, are genuine experiences that were recounted to me without solicitation.
Eastern Europe, and specifically my Slovak heritage, has contributed greatly to my genesis as a fiction writer. My undergraduate studies steered me toward heavy doses of Russian literature, which I still make a study of to this day, though my interests have expanded to include any of the Slavic states (Dalkey Archive Press is a wonderful source of material, in this regard). My own upbringing in a Slovak matriarchy has always provided places to invent from—learning the Slovak language, going back to live in Bratislava for a year or, in the case of this particular story, listening to my grandmother and great-grandmother recount their experiences during the Second World War and then behind the Iron Curtain. – AM
PS Eventually, Clarion 19 will be released in print.
Issue #14 of The Radvocate, San Diego’s only and most raddest, baddest literary magazine, has been released.
Available for mass consumption.
This issue features some really wonderful writers and it’s my honor to appear among them. Here is an excerpt of my story, “Harvey Stone.”
Order your copy of issue 14 here.
Also, there will be The Radvocate 14 reading September 24, 2016 at The Glashaus. A reading! Be there! You never know: I might have an episode in front of a large literary crowd. I hope not, because I’d rather not transgress editors Matt E. Lewis (@LattMewis) and Julia Dixon Evans (@juliadixonevans), to whom I’d like to give a big world-spanning holler.
It’s nice feel to welcome.
“And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?”
—Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72”**
Well I’ll be a good goddam.
If this is a tribute, I make it begrudgingly. To behold the 2016 presidential election on this day in August, without a nod toward its obvious parallels to the ’72 presidential election, is to miss a bone-white manifestation of that congenital atavism intrinsic to our beloved, oxygen-sucking race. Solzhenitsyn said something to this effect. Škvorecký, maybe? You know: Our repeated mistakes can be distinguished only by their variations . . .
Having joined this experiment a good fifteen years and five months after Richard Nixon’s re-election, I must rely on a close and ongoing study of key accounts from Tricky Dick Richard’s time if I have any chance of contextualizing it. There is still so much work to do. No ignoring the terrific clarity that comes with historical hindsight, either, of which I consider myself a fortunate beneficiary. With that in mind, three decades on planet earth seems like more than enough playing time to chop a pure Colombian kilo of good old American cynicism down to a few good snorts.
What better medicine for Campaign Trail 2016?
And in the spirit of true Americanism, I will use a nickel-plated knife to break down the brick. But my hands are shaky these days, so if I miss the mark, blame it on “Campaign Bloat,” that savage condition brought on by a full year of election politics. Debates. Media pulse. I consumed it all.
So do forgive me.
I am sick.
Source: fiction from the Fall issue: Anthony Martin. Ill Not in the Mind.
She sees the bus and recalls a trip in the car with her sister out in the Carolinas where they passed a group of convicts by the side of the highway—a dozen or so male inmates unchained and walking single-file toward some menial cleanup task, bookended by potbellied prison guards holding big rifles down but at the ready, the gloomy, cold steel barrels reaching well past their knees.