Friday, May 2, 2008

On "The Undiscovered Country, Apparently" by Andrew S. Taylor (1284 words) ****

One of the amazing things about Pindeldyboz is that it comes out every two weeks and always manages to have at least a couple of good stories in it. Some other journals come out four times a year and don't manage to have a single decent story in them. I don't know how Pindledyboz does it--perhaps, it has gained a reputation of publishing fine material. It also helps--and hinders--that the publication limits writers to twenty-five hundred words. Helps insofar as that many words, I find, really is about the limit of my online reading tolerance; after that, I'm likely to click away or resort to printing the thing out. Hinders in that sometimes it seems like writers are constrained by what really is a fairly difficult set of parameters. I mean, how many of the great stories really occur in such a space? Pick up nearly any Flannery O'Connor piece, any Raymond Carver piece (outside of What We Talk about When We Talk about Love), any Chekhov piece, and you're dealing with twice that number of words generally. Andrew S. Taylor's story, I think, may be a case in point. I love this piece. He takes an ordinary situation--a drink falling at a party--and turns it into a strange almost science fiction experiment. Tragedy is averted--or perhaps created. But then, given the need to wrap the story up, the piece, to my mind, fizzles out right at the end (or perhaps, arguably, it goes on a couple of paragraphs too long). But the first nine-tenths of this story is absolutely fantastic. Read the story here.

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