August 13th, 2012 / 8:01 am
Random

I want to tell you about the latest and possibly last issue of American Short Fiction (a guest post)

The following was sent to me by someone who must remain anonymous. As a fan of ASF, I’m happy to pass it along, although saddened to hear about their current plight. —Adam

I want to tell you about the latest issue of American Short Fiction.
I want to tell you that it might be the last issue of American Short Fiction.
I want to tell you that even if it might not be the last issue of American Short Fiction, it is the last issue edited by Jill Meyers and Callie Collins.

I want to tell you why I loved this journal.
I want to tell you about all the awards the stories they’ve published have won.
I want to tell you why I loved this journal, and it is not because of the awards the stories they’ve published have won.
I want to tell you what it is like to read every issue of American Short Fiction that Jill and Callie have edited: the language surprises, the having-to-put-it-down-and-walk-away-because-something-inside-you-is-blooming-and-your-hands-are-shaking.

I want to tell you about the last issue of American Short Fiction.
I want to tell you about Elizabeth Ellen’s “Teen Culture.”
I want to tell you that I read one of Elizabeth sentences: “Treating her like everyone else means fuck her,” and then felt compelled to yell the sentence aloud.
I want to tell you what it is like to read a story that invites reader and narrator to stumble together so near to some place so hypnotically recognizable: how a line as simple as “The thing about fourteen-year-olds is they always text right back,” and everything else in this story keeps you someplace in between the text and your own terrible moments.

I want to tell you that Jill and Callie resigned.
I want to tell you that the only the thing I can tell you is what was written in the press release sent to the Austin American Statesman.

I want to tell you about the last issue of American Short Fiction.
I want to tell you about Max Ross’ “Exorcising.”
I want to tell you that this story is the story I always look for in American Short Fiction: the kind where something creeps stealthily, absurdly, from places where I wrote “ha!” in the margins, from places where benign sentences like “I wanted to be sad to the point of originality” and images of vaginas of death vibrate against something larger and more complicated and unsaid.

I want to tell you what it is like to hear Jill and Callie talk about sentences with reverence.
I want to tell you what it is like to hear Jill and Callie talk about the people who write sentences with reverence.

I want to tell you about the last issue of American Short Fiction.
I want to tell you about Roxane Gay’s “We Are The Sacrifice of Darkness.”
I want to tell you about the things that it did to me that I will not be able to find the words to tell you.
I want to tell you that Roxane’s story will have its mythically seismic way with your heart.

I want to tell you what it is like to read a journal whose voices are so balanced, there’s never a need to flip to the table of contents, wondering when you might encounter a woman’s words.

I want to tell you that Alyssa Knickerbocker’s “The Daughter of a Squaw Man Smuggles Wool and Other Goods,” is not a story, it is a place.
I want to tell you that Alyssa’s story is a place of language and family and difference to dwell in.

I want to tell you that James Dewille’s “Last Days on Rossmore,” which Justin Cronin chose as the winner of American Short Fiction’s short-story contest, will make you feel something so uncomfortably ugly that you might want to walk around the block, that you might see me when you do, that you shouldn’t say anything to me as I try to shake the story off.

I want to tell you that all anyone can say about anything is “No Comment.”
I want you to know.

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13 Comments

  1. Mike Young

      boo! =(

  2. Roxane

      It saddens me so much to see this happening to such an outstanding magazine. I read ASF from cover to cover, every issue and am unapologetically enthusiastic about the magazine. The stories are so great. Bess Winter’s Signs remains one of my favorite stories. There’s a story by Shannon Cain, the title I am blanking on, about a politician’s wife. In one issue, there’s a story about a father and his son who wants to be a clown. There’s a story about a pregnant woman living in a cave. The range of stories in each issue is admirable. There is such a display of narrative style and tone. The consistent excellence of that magazine makes whatever is going on, that the editorial team can’t even talk about, nothing short of infuriating. 

  3. Bess Winter

      Seconding Roxane’s sentiments here. ASF is one of the best journals in North America, bar none (and I’d say that if my work weren’t in it, too). So sad.

  4. Johannes Lichtman

      This is terrible. ASF is without a doubt one of best lit journals in the country. Jill and Callie are fantastic editors, and people who care deeply about good literature. If ASF closes up shop, it would be a loss for anyone who likes short stories that consistently deliver the delightfully unexpected.

  5. Daniel Roberts

      saw Roxane’s compelling tweets on this and wanted to run right over. slightly confused here, but very interested– I too love ASF. But it’s unclear what is meant by this post, exactly– is the author of this post just saying he or she doesn’t like some of the stories in the newest issue? thinks they suck? or, also, those stories suck so much that the current editors are quitting over it? how did the stories in question make it in?

  6. Melody Vaness

      @twitter-22589449:disqus The author means that the quality, the bodaciousness of the work in the latest issue is on-par with everything that Jill & Callie have done with the magazine, and how much it sucks that they won’t be able to continue to publish innovative, exciting work.

  7. Roxane

      I’m not quite sure where you’re getting that interpretation. The author of this post is celebrating the excellence of ASF, highlighting what he or she appreciated in each of the stories in the current issue, and lamenting that Jill Myers and Callie Collins will not be editing future issues of the magazine while also highlighting that the people involved are prevented from explaining what’s going on with the magazine’s future.

  8. Daniel Roberts

      got it. I misunderstood, then. thanks! to be fair, it’s all pretty vague and shadowy. but sounds like a shame

  9. JAGABOND

      Damn. I always wanted to be in that journal. It hurts when goodness disappears.

  10. linqiong175

      tinyurl.com/cyk9xz2

  11. postitbreakup

      what the fuck, why, that’s terrible. i know jack shit about lit journals but even i knew ASF was amazing

  12. Some literary news: Edith Wharton, contract killing, and sexual harassment. Don’t worry, none of these things are related. | By Claire Burgess

      […] further distressing news, the incredible literary journal American Short Fiction is possibly folding after 21 years, following the resignation of two of its head editors. The reasons for their […]

  13. raynola

      What a bummer.

      Does this mean I don’t get my rejection letter?