Stories by Nathan Englander, Mary Otis, Matt Sumell, Steve Edwards, and Marc Basch
Electric Literature’s sixth anthology travels highways, the waters of New York’s harbors, and the grooves of a burned out LP. In Matt Sumell’s “OK,” a son visits his stubbornly suicidal father at his flea infested home. In “Where We Missed Was Everywhere,” by Mary Otis, a brother and sister seek refuge from a funeral in a Beach Boys classic. The siblings in Marc Basch’s “Three” react to one brother’s dealings with a kid bully they encounter on a back country road. The subjects of a starvation experiment in Steve Edward’s “Daily Bread” find their worlds reduced to the size of their stomachs. And the anthology’s final story, “The Reader” by Nathan Englander, chronicles a discouraged author haunted by his one remaining reader.
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**Check back soon for more Single Sentence Animations of issue 6**
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“OK” by Matt Sumell
“It’s the worst fountain I’ve ever even seen, Ma,” I said, “I hate it. I hate it. Oh man I hate it so bad right now.” Then I got hysterical, like a baby, like Fatlegs, like I was rubber-chinning and couldn’t catch my breath until I remembered to tell her what I came to tell her, that AJ had a daughter and she’s not retarded. “He named her after you,” I said. “Kid can’t even hold her head up yet, just shits black stuff and cries and it’s Marie this Marie that, Marie, Marie, Marie. It kills me. Every time they say it, there’s a pang and my heart starts chewing tinfoil.”
“Where We Missed Was Everywhere” by Mary Otis
Downstairs everyone cries more, drinks much, sleeps faster. The funeral party has just begun. My brother and I have nothing to do with that. We are small, but we’ll add up later. We dance without moving, silently and violently, and we are the boss now, ripping the needle off the record before “Surfer Girl” can even begin. Not a single word! We shake as hard as we can, dancing without moving, as if the lady is coming, and she’ll save us for free.
“Three” by Marc Basch
The weather gets colder. While I sit lengthwise on the couch, listening to the radiators ticking to get warm, I imagine that something, some awful tempest or explosion, any minute now, will rip the windows and roof away in a blue blast, and I will look up and just see stars, like an outpouring of sand against the black. Everything else has receded. There is no shelter, there is no wind. The ceiling, the thing in the way is gone, the other shoe has dropped, and there is just the clearest nothingness and stars.
“Daily Bread” by Steve Edwards
Whoever knew the book best led the discussion. I think Thoreau was everyone’s favorite because none of us ever got to be alone anymore, especially not at a place like Walden Pond, and in a way it made children of us again. If that makes sense. Because it was us walking around the water and watching the animals and thinking the thoughts only a free man thinks. When we were on 3,200 calories a day, we could even understand why he would apportion a percentage of his beans to the squirrels. Now, I don’t know. I think now we might get up in arms about it. The waste. But now we don’t talk about books much—the whole enterprise sort of faded away. The doctors say we’re still functioning at the same cognitive level on mental tests, but it doesn’t feel right to read a book when all you really want to do is eat it. Even Henry David Thoreau went home for Sunday dinner.
“The Reader” by Nathan Englander
Forgive the author his relentless commitment. Forgive his belief that even if the next city promises nothing more than this one old man, still it’s his obligation to drive on. A writer never knows if perseverance is his terrible weakness or his greatest strength. and with all those headlights floating divided in his rearview mirror, Author never can tell which belong to his reader, which pair is his beacon, a North Star, split, cast back, guiding him on.
Cover Artwork: Around the World Alone (Lord of the Seas) by Sean Landers
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