Announcing the winners of the Insider Prize

Insider Prize feature image by Maurice Chammah

Submissions to The Insider Prize—a writing contest for incarcerated writers in Texas, which we held for the first time this year—came to us in envelopes of many sizes. Most had been previously opened, with a red TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS stamp on the inside of the lip of the envelope that had been taped shut after an inspection. Some were composed on a typewriter. Others were handwritten. Like many literary journals, American Short Fiction accepts only electronic submissions. And while much of what I read comes from a screen, I often forget the human component to words, to the process of physically creating the letters and shapes that appear on a page. With these submissions, we felt the labor and work that had gone into the creation of words, and worlds. We physically held them in our hands. Receiving these submissions directly from the writers, I was reminded that literature is, at heart, epistolary. […]

Monster

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The last couple times I took my boys to the playground, there was this guy there. He looked harmless, nice even, a baseball cap, jeans, T-shirt. He could have been my age, maybe ten years older or ten years younger—his long, untended beard made it hard to guess. While my boys hit the slides, the swings, and the monkey bars, I’d sit, let them do their thing, on hand in case they fell or decided to wander off. The guy with the long beard, though, he was all in, rotating kids on the little merry-go-round, refereeing games of tag, and playing this game he called “Monster” […]

On The Social Interactions Of Bottlenose Dolphins In Maternal Bands

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Me and Marty were just about wrapping up the day’s log on the social interactions of bottlenose dolphins in maternal bands is how we happened to be out on the water at the time. Out of nowhere, one of the bottlenoses plumb took off out into deep waters. Like it remembered it left the oven on or something, it plumb took off out of the feeding ring, which if you know anything about maternal bands of bottlenose dolphins is out of the question. Dolphins aren’t so much a march-to-the-beat-of-your-own-drummer type of cetacean. Certainly not come feeding time. But sure enough, the rest of the bottlenoses about-faced and followed the one on out into deep waters, leaving untouched a whole school of mackerel they already went through the trouble of tracking and encircling. Not to mention leaving us scratching our heads, me and Marty. […]

Between the Shores

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Nicoya and Daniel are born in the same hospital in Jerusalem on the same date. At 2 a.m., their fathers exchange smiles in the nursery. When Nicoya is three months old, her mother takes her on a bus to the assisted living home where Nicoya’s grandmother lives. In the back of the same bus, Daniel sleeps against his mother’s chest for two stops before he is carried off the bus and down the street and into his home, eyes peacefully closed all the while. […]

Endangered

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The artists were kept in cages. This was for their own good. The world had gotten really ugly, really fast, and the artists, generally, did not have the skills to survive. Most did not know how to shoot guns, for instance. Or how to make bombs out of soda bottles. The artists were a dying breed, in all honesty, which is why the government, along with a few wealthy do-gooders, put them in cages—nice cages—that resembled the artists’ natural habitats. One pen looked like a gallery opening, with wine, cheese, and water crackers restocked daily. Another featured dumpster couches paired with a threadbare oriental rug. […]

Novelist of the Appetites: An Interview with Ashley Warlick

Ashley Warlick author photo

Ashley Warlick spent ten years on her latest novel, The Arrangement, a fictional retelling of the life and loves of famed food writer MFK Fisher. With lush, clean prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, Warlick lays bare the many appetites of a woman and writer ahead of her time. The novel spans the early years of Fisher’s career […]

ASF Reads