Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Jane Hammons

Smokelong Quarterly
Stephen Graham Jones
I love the incantatory prose and the way the events are listed to create a sense of dread. The repetition of "This is to . . ." is hypnotic: we can not look away.

Speaking French in Kurtz Territory
Atticus Review
Guinotte Wise
Stories in which the setting is a character are high on my list of favorites. The descriptions of the Marais des Cygne wild life refuge in Kansas with its "womb-warm weirdass water" where the characters grow and smoke their "LaCygne Green" set the stage for a violent family story. We know from the opening that the narrator fears his father, with good reason, so what happens in the end isn't a surprise. Waiting for it to happen is the killer.

Josh Medsker
Verbicide Magazine

This story had a similar affect on me as "The Perfect Day," a story by Patti Abbott that I chose for last year's list. The situation the two brothers are in is heartbreaking and realistic. I almost felt as though I was watching a home movie--a terrifying one. The sadness of it lingers.

The Tractor Thief's Jacket
Gita M. Smith
MudJob: Stories and Observations

I'm a big fan of Gita's writing and don't see near enough of it, so I was delighted to come across this story about the "laws of the prairie." The climate is harsh and so are the people. The narrator invites us to "Come see our laws in action," and once we read about the dentist with the Polaroid camera, we are anxious to have justice done. The voice was the first thing to hold my attention. The details and setting are also terrific.

Care Santos
Words Without Borders

Who can resist a story about an author who murders a "cultural journalist" you know the kind "those specialists dealing in rehashed press notes, in the distortion of statements and in the savage copying of previous articles, fished from the Internet and always penned by someone more brilliant." I've been making an effort to read more writing in translation and use the website Words without Borders in one of the classes I teach. I was really delighted to find the "(Non-Scandinavian) Crime" issue this past December.

Bio: Jane Hammons teaches writing at UC Berkeley and also writes stories and essays. Two of her most recent stories, one published in All Due Respect and the other in Protectors, a Lost Children anthology, are part of a longer work in progress. A story inMetazen was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. She also has an essay forthcoming in the anthology California Prose Directory: New Writing from the Golden State


  1. I am happy to be mentioned among such talented writes. And you Ms. Hammons, your very sweet smile belies a rather shocking taste for noir.

  2. A few to check out there but that Gita Smith story is stunning even on a second reading.

  3. Made my day. Fine company too. And judged by one in the noir trenches, both writing and teaching. Thanks. As I told my dogs, more coffee and back to work.

    Like it (if you like) thx.

  4. Just saw that this story is nominated by Spinetingler for the best short story on the web! Cool!