Thursday Jul 18

JonathanCardew 2016a What’s in a year?

-Twelve months
-Fifty-two weeks
-365 days
-Six Issues of Connotation Press
-One fucking asshole president

That’s what’s in a year! And this issue with five new writers completes my first at the helm of fiction at Connotation Press. That’s thirty writers who have graced these Internet pages, and more than fifty prose pieces from several different continents. If you’re reading this—and you definitely are—I would like to thank you for your eyes and brains and critical and creative thinking processes. We need those in the years coming--more than many years, I think. It is an honor to receive and to seek out writing of this caliber, and an absolute pleasure to share it with you, the wonderful Connotation Press reader.

Thanks for being here!

Featured Writer: Melanie Pappadis Faranello

“In the garage, on a shelf lined with gallons of old paint, he found a roll of duct tape and some wire hangers. He looked out at the storm. It was past midnight. The gutter was swung, twisting like it was trying to break free. He’d secure it until morning. He could hear his first wife Linda criticizing him for his ineptitude. Her truths about him resounded as he stood in the open garage wearing his thin pajama pants and matching button shirt, waiting for the storm to pass. The roll of duct tape and two wire hangers in hand, his only defense”–Melanie Pappadis Faranello, ‘Airways’

This story wowed me. Weighing in at 5,000 words, it’s longer than much of what I publish at the moment, but any notion of length dissipates as you are drawn into Will’s world of duct tape. In my interview with her, Pappadis discusses some of the inspirations behind this story and also how this piece fits into a longer work in progress. She also talks about her love for teaching creative writing, and the far-flung places her research has taken her.

Featured Writer: James Claffey

"Ghostlike, the lights shining, the blue-silver train flashes past dry earth and scrub bushes. Lincoln’s coffin is not in the brake carriage. Dead presidents remain dead and buried, the vestigial traces of their existence as faint as the hum of the wheels in the ears of the figure leading his dog across the tracks, his headphones blasting ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.”– James Claffey, ‘Dead Presidents’    

Former contributor, James Claffey, returns to Connotation Press this month with two signature flash fictions, ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘The Blood Is Staunched.’ Claffey’s uniquely poetic, densely rich and vivid prose style is on the full display here. In my interview with Claffey, we discuss his collection ‘Blood A Cold Blue’ and the undeniably cloying texture of peanut butter.

Caitlin Scarano

“Cold came in snaps and spells. Like witchcraft, some sort of soundless devilry. Season of the temporary immaculate. Season of accumulation, interiority, sealing. There was always a silence, always a quality of ringing. Snow in heaps, banks, and drifts. She shoveled and salted outside her cabin but it kept coming and filling each path. That was fine. Those years were stasis, moon-clear fields of snow and ice against a backdrop of black spruce. Back then she still thought she would meet someone who would change her, bring shape to her days”-- Caitlin Scarano, ‘The Animal for the Year in which You Left’

I'm a little obsessed with Caitlin Scarano’s writing. A poet, a flasher, a short story writer, there's not much she can't do with a string of words—and this piece delivers it all. What I love most about her work is her capacity for empathy, her ability to cut through the noise and open up the heart of the subject she is writing about. This is a poetic and a lyrical piece—but also a story, and a very good one at that.

Sandra Arnold

“My mother said it was the wind to blame. It sucked all the moisture out of the earth, uprooted trees, scorched the grass and drove people mad. With this climate shift, she said, we could expect a lot more of these hot dry winds and suffer the consequences. I said it wasn’t the wind that stuffed my seven kittens into a sack or caused the old tabby to fly at Jake, eyes on fire, claws like rakes as she's fastened herself on his head, screeching like the pig when Jake slit its throat” –Sandra Arnold, ‘Climate Change’

Sandra Arnold is a New Zealand-based flash fiction writer, who is frankly on fire at the moment. Her stories are crystalline, poised, and so well executed--and this story serves as a perfect example of her flashing skills. Enjoy!

Helen Rye

Breathed-out air contains over 3,000 different molecules, did you know that? Some of them alter when you’re sick, which is why a dog always knows these things. It knows the complex and delicate balance of organic compounds exuded by a human body that is tired and alone and afraid and does not, will not ever belong to this world ” –Helen Rye, ‘Canis Major’

Helen Rye’s a bit of a flash fiction phenomenon at the moment, having won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Reflex Fiction Prize, and probably another one by the time this goes to press! When you read her prose, however, it’s not hard to see why she’s raking in the awards. I love the bounce and energy of her sentences—and the imagery, oh the imagery, you’re going to love the imagery.