“The Devil” by Nathan Long

One of the better online sources of fiction is failbetter.com, maybe because their motto comes from one of my favorite writers: Samuel Beckett.

I love the simple economy of “The Devil” by Nathan Long. And the greater story it tells. Here’s a snippet:

“The boy was a devil for only one night, but he did not like the thought of it, as though the devil might get under his skin. So he was relieved that his mother had missed the performance.”

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Claudia Smith’s Short Short Fiction

I’ve been digging around online in search of fiction, something beyond the biggies like, The New Yorker and Granta. I’ve discovered that it’s pretty hard to find quality fiction online. Most of the esteemed literary journals are still stuck in the paper and ink paradigm; they rarely post more than an excerpt or two on their websites. So where does that leave us, the attention-deficient, content-saturated denizens of the blogosphere? Where are we to get our fix of quality fiction? Well, hopefully right here.

I’ve done a considerable amount of grunt work, searching through sites, reading countless stories, in search of compelling online fiction. And I’ve found some gems.

Some of the best online fiction falls into the short-short genre: short stories that are usually 500-750 words in length. One of my favorite authors in this genre is Claudia Smith. She’s written several stories, which can be found at her website, claudiaweb.

Here are two stories I particularly liked (with excerpts):

“Groove” (published in Quick Fiction):

“Now, they were a family. His family was large and old, occupying most of a small cemetery on the hill at the edge of a small town. She knew he would never leave them. This might mean he would never leave her.”

This story does a wonderful job of capturing a very specific mood: settling into a marriage.

“Shampoo Commercial” (published in wig-leaF):

“They only talk about the flight’s aftermath on the phone, and there’s a sweet, throaty quality to her mother’s voice when she describes the dress, the ice cream shop, the roller coaster rides.”

“Shampoo Commercial” has a mysterious oblique quality; I had to read it several times to figure out what happened to the little girl. The language is very precise. If you read it closely you will understand the shocking crux of the story.

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