Issue 63: 25th Anniversary Issue

asf-63-cover-still-silverAndrea Barrett, “Open House”—

“Everyone had expected Nana to preside over the open house, as she had so many times; to sit in the embroidered chair and cross her ankles and talk with whomever came by—but she was done with that, she was done with it all. Done with pretending that Leon and Opal knew what was best for the family. Or that Didier would find some way to save them.”

Alexander Chee, “Glory”—

“The men moved in a slow parade past the open doors of each of the booths lining the halls, looking in and stopping if they liked what they saw or not if they didn’t. Sometimes a door would be open to display two or more men within, sometimes wanting to be watched or joined. They were maybe a more diverse crowd than in any gay bar I’ve been in, at least more diverse than most places in the state. It was a strange thread of desire connecting us all, like something you could only see or show in this light, otherwise invisible.”

Jennifer duBois, “The Spectator”—

“The devil-boy’s name is Ezra Rosenzweig, though Cel has been told repeatedly to address him only as Damian. He has a black odalisque neck tattoo and thumb-sized subdermal horn implants; Cel keeps expecting these to twitch expressively, somehow, like the ears of a small dog. But the devil-boy’s horns do not move, and alongside his shaved eyebrows they contribute to an expression of general impassivity, so Cel doesn’t quite register the extent of his surprise when he stops speaking of Satanic baptismal rites and says, ‘Oh, shit.'”

Danielle Evans, “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain”—

“All of her adult life people have asked Rena why she goes to such dangerous places, and she has always wanted to ask them where the safe place is. The danger is in chemicals and airports and refugee camps and war zones and regions known for sex tourism. The danger also sometimes took their trash out for them. The danger came over for movie night and bought them a popcorn maker for Christmas. The danger hugged her mother and shook her father’s hand.”

Bret Anthony Johnston, “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses”—

“What bothered him about movies was what transpired off camera. How they trained horses to collapse onto their shoulders from full runs, to rear up and flip onto their backs. When a horse started running on the screen, Atlee shut his eyes or pretended to pick something off his jeans until the scene changed. He couldn’t bear to watch them fall. Once you’ve seen a horse break its leg, once you’ve heard that animal scream, it never leaves you.”

Erin Somers, “Canine” (Winner of the American Short(er) Fiction Contest)—

“I wanted to capture that effortless French feeling, so I made ratatouille. Afterward the apartment smelled like Provence, if what Provence smells like is eggplant burning in the bottom of the oven.”

Joyce Carol Oates, “Don Barthelme Saved from Oblivion”—

“Don is a force of nature. Don is a born rebel. Don is a prodigy. Don has ‘squandered his gifts.’ Don is a genius. Don is an idiot savant. Don is a raving lunatic. Don is a saint. Don is a con man. Don is an artiste mauve. Don exudes sand freud. Don is inimitable and Don is unfathomable—except at those times when Don is fathomable, and those are times you do not, repeat do not want to be around him.”

Emily Kiernan, “The Old War” (Runner-up of the American Short(er) Fiction Contest)—

“When I was a child I was afraid of ghosts and wouldn’t go up to the attic alone, but now I am more afraid of people who are alive.”


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