It's important to cross read - to read more than just one certain category. Stephen King's advice to budding writers is to read as much as possible, especially books outside your chosen niche.
One of the best short stories on the long term scars of war came from the story The Memory Cage by Tim Sullivan. As a man goes through his father's effects - a father who served in World War II - a father who would later commit suicide because of the images he continued to see many years later, the adult son makes this observation:
Three sentences from another keepsake, a letter sent to my grandparents from French Morocco, were most telling.
"We shot down a German bomber. I guess we killed the men in that aeroplane," he said. "I don't know how to feel about it. Good, I guess."
Good, I guess. An eighteen-year-old boy, on the opposite side of the world from all he knew, had just killed a group of other boys whose faces he never saw, consigning them to a twisted-metal funeral pyre in the Sahara from the business end of a gigantic cannon. I don't know how to feel about it. Good, I guess.
And here's proof that Sullivan read much more than just science fiction. When describing the father's mental state after coming home from WWII, the author makes a one-line reference to Hemingway in what many might think is a casual way, but shows a clear brilliance of writing:
There's our proof! That shows not only a depth of reading, but the ability to create a character's state of mind with one sentence. That, my Cheesy Readers, an example of great writing - the ability to completely capture a character with one simple sentence. If I offered a Classics And Cheese annual short fiction award, this short story would be nominated.He didn't waste time sitting on the porch like the damaged vet of Hemingway's story.
The novella featured in this issue is Bartleby The Scavenger by Katie Boyer. A clear homage to the classic Melville story many of us read in high school. It was a bit long, and the author went above and beyond in establishing parallels between the original and this futuristic dystopian version, so in my opinion its overall length could have been trimmed by about 25%, but it's still worth reading if you get the chance.
Rooksnight by Marc Laidlaw and Containment Zone: A Seastead Story by Naomi Kritzer are two novelletes worth their time. Fun stories, told well, and worthy of these pages.
Until Next Time...