Monday, February 25, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Christopher Grant

Richard Godwin's Barbeque The Sink Beast (

I've just recently re-read this story and, holy shit, this is some good, good, GOOD stuff. AJ Hayes mentioned in a previous Five Stories You Can't Miss that Bizarro is really coming on strong and it doesn't get any better than this one for bizarre and bizarro.

AJ Hayes's Dark Genesis (

This is a story that makes you want to raise your game. You cannot read this story and not think, "What have I written recently that blows my brains out of my skull and will do the same to anyone that reads it?" This is Dark Genesis in one sentence.

As I said to AJ when I first read it, "Talk about your big bang theory."

You'll see what I mean when you read Dark Genesis.

Chris Benton's The Wait (

Here's the thing about a Chris Benton story: no one ever comes away unscathed. Sometimes it's death that claims a character. Other times, it's life that claims that character.

In The Wait, it's both.

Chris Rhatigan's Small Bites (

What goes together better than York Peppermint Patties and Bizarro? Nothing, if it's written by Chris Rhatigan. That and the fact that that guy or woman with the red kettle? Probably in business for their own self.

Cindy Rosmus's Out Of Juice (

Okay. What is this?

That's what makes Out Of Juice such an intriguing story.

Read it. Finish it. Then you'll ask that question.

And these:

Is it Bizarro? Perhaps. Is it a mash-up of all kinds of genres? Yes, which, to my mind, makes it Bizarro (by definition). Is it a zombie story? Maybe. The last little bit makes a good case for that. An end of the world story? Yep, it's that, too.

You know what it really is?

It's Cindy Rosmus. She throws everything into the pot and comes up with an extremely tasty brew, as always.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Tom Pitts

1) Daniel Mkiwa's The New Sleep in All Due Respect. This story so moved me that I sought out the author and begged him to send OOTG a piece. It's a fresh take on street crime and his keen sense for dialogue gives this barrio tale a realistic feel that's hard to find out there

2) It's probably already been mentioned by others in this series, but Nicky Murphy's Daddy's Girl in OOTG's Flash Fiction Offensive got my attention. A lot of emotion rises up from very sparse prose. The tale between the lines is brutal and unforgettable.

3) Joe Clifford's Shady Palms from Shotgun Honey. Another story where the writer heats up the heart then sticks a knife in it and twists. Betrayal upon betrayal. Joe at his meanest and leanest.

4) Mike Monson's Hot Cups. A winner of OOTG's Digital Rage contest. The thing I loved about this one was that the action happened off the page. It's crafty to build that kind of tension without hitting you over the head with violence.

5) Going to Hell to the Sound of Sucking or How the Gimp got 86'd from Mac's by Jaylee Alde
I'm bending the rules a bit, but this tale has its own story. There's no link because it didn't get published. Not yet anyway. Its subject was the cause of much backroom hullabaloo over at Out of the Gutter's Flash Fiction back office. I thought it was hilarious, bold, and irreverent. Three things I love. The rest of the FFO editorial staff said, "No fucking way! Hilarious, yes, but I'm not going to hell!" I recently contacted Jaylee to see what happened with it and I believe it will make it onto the virtual pages of some daring zine sometime soon. Watch out for it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Mike Monson

Stuck Between Stations — Joe Clifford

Last summer, at the age of 56, for some reason, I decided to start writing fiction and I had this idea that maybe there were places to publish online if my stories were good enough. I started exploring the internet and found Literary Orphans and this wonderful story. It was so good and everything about it was something I could relate to -- it wasn't some loftly literary thing, it was ... REAL. I was so impressed that I emailed the author, Joe Clifford, and developed an online friendship that led to me getting published many times. It's a good story. Read it.

No Parking — Tom Pitts

I also had a magical connection to this story. I could just see everything the writer described and I could just feel all the creepy feelings experienced by the narrator. I LOVED it.

Accidental Disharge — Ryan Sayles

What can I say? This freaking story is shocking in a good, fun way. Read it ... jeez, what are you waiting for?

Thinking About Her — Matthew C. Funk

Wow. I read this and felt things I'd never felt before. It is a great story about awful people doing the most awful things one could imagine and Funk makes the whole thing beautiful. How? I have no idea. Magic, again.

June — Jen Conley

I'm putting this in not just for this story but for all the Jen Conley stories I read this year. She is just so good. Ms. Conley brings you into a vivid and real world and makes you see and feel things. I just love her writing. June is completely devastating in a completely lovely way. Someday, maybe, she will learn how to write a happy ending.

Party Favors — Chris Leek

I like ALL of the Chris Leek stories I read this year. Check him out, I insist. But this one was the most sublime. Read it now.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

At All Due Respect: Gary Clifton

Gary Clifton has quickly become known for his gritty and quite funny stories about all manner of low-lifes. He's got two flash pieces up now at All Due Respect, "A Step in Time" and "Lucky." If you dig those, you should check out his story in the anthology, "The Last Ambassador to Pushmata." 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Twist of Noir Returns!

A Twist of Noir is BACK! And I've got a story there, a happy, sugary, glittery, rainbowy, puppy-dog filledy Valentine's Day bit called "That Fucking Bitch Will Pay." Also check out some great stories by Katherine Tomlinson, Bruce Harris, and Patti Abbott.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

At The Flash Fiction Offensive: Furby's Revenge

It's like they say, nothing says "I love you" like a cute, murderous monster. Celebtrate Valentine's Day with Furby's Revenge at TFFO.

Couldn't find one on Google images with blood running down its chin...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Erik Arneson

The Chemistrator: Drug City, U.S.A. by Calvin Beauclerc, discovered by Rob Kroese. (Blood & Tacos #3)

I love Blood & Tacos, a magazine that pays homage to the 1970s and 1980s, the heyday of adventure paperbacks. The writing in Blood & Tacos is purposely and brilliantly campy, and the stories are uniformly entertaining. Drug City, U.S.A., featuring a character known as The Chemistrator, makes my list because of passages like this: “Dax closed his eyes and reflected on how things had gotten so out of control. There wasn’t any moment he could pinpoint, however. It had been a gradual process. He probably shouldn’t have started selling drugs, though. That was definitely a mistake.”

Victor Viral by Hugh Lessig (NEEDLE: A Magazine of Noir, Fall/Winter 2012)

In my day job, I work for a politician, so I’m a sucker for a good political story. Victor Viral is a great political story about a campaign consultant working for a state senator. Both of the consultant and the candidate operate far south of ethical, and bad things happen when their unethical worlds collide.

If I Ever Get Off This Mountain by Brian Panowich (Shotgun Honey)

This piece of rural noir (“I’ve got dead brothers in six counties all over North Georgia and Tennessee.”) is excellent on its own. But it really shines when read together with Panowich’s companion piece, Coming Down the Mountain at Out of the Gutter Online’s The Flash Fiction Offensive. Both stories tell the same tale from different perspectives, and the result is tremendous.

The Postman Always Rings Twice by Claire McGowan (Off the Record 2: At the Movies)

McGowan’s contribution to this charity anthology is the terrifying tale of a woman who moves into a new house and is tormented by the (figurative) ghost of a previous resident. The terror builds steadily throughout the story and, best of all, it doesn’t let up at the end.

The Neon Come-On by Eric Beetner (Atomic Noir)

This is a classic noir tale: A clerk at a rundown hotel in the middle of nowhere can’t help himself when he finds a cooler full of cash, despite the fact that the cooler is in a room with a corpse and the obvious smart thing to do would be leave and call the cops. Needless to say, things go poorly. And nobody writes about things going poorly better than Beetner.

The Innocent Man by Pamela Colloff (Texas Monthly)

I’m going to bend Chris’s rules just a little to tip my hat to the best non-fiction article I read in 2012. Michael Morton, convicted of murdering his wife in Williamson County, Texas, is the titular innocent man. His story is a frightening look at how the justice system can go horribly wrong when the police and prosecutors -- through incompetence, conspiracy, or a mixture of the two -- don’t do a good job. Here are part one and part two of Colloff’s article. (It looks as though part one now requires free registration, and part two will probably go that route as well. It’s worth it.)

Erik Arneson’s stories have appeared at Shotgun Honey and Near to the Knuckle, as well as in NEEDLE and Off the Record 2: At the Movies. He also has a story in Otto Penzler’s upcoming Kwik Krimes anthology. He blogs at and tweets @erikarneson.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Five You Can't Miss -- Bradley Sands

I don’t usually read fiction online, so there won’t be any links to the actual stories (except for the first one).

The Human Centipede 2 (UFSI Sequence) by Tao Lin: A Novel (actually by Cameron Pierce): from the book, Die You Doughnut Bastards

This may be the funniest thing I’ve read all year, but it may not be funny to people at all if they haven’t seen The Human Centipede and aren’t familiar with the writing of Tao Lin.

The Walrus Master by Carlton Mellick III from Walrus Tales (an anthology of stories about walruses) Use this link to the book on Amazon if you want:

Perhaps the second funniest thing I read. Mellick rarely does short fiction and although his books are often humorous, I wouldn’t usually put them in the humor category, but this fits the label. It begins with a levitating Walrus Master saying to a young man, “Blessings, my child. I shall answer you three questions. What wisdom do you wish me to bestow?” The young man responds, “What the fuck are you doing, dude?”

The Last Time I Stole Walt Whitman’s Sole by Scott McClanahan from The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1 (

The narrator (or perhaps Scott McClanahan himself) goes to Walt Whitman’s old house. They don’t let him in, so instead he goes to the nearby Walt Whitman mall. They don’t have any Walt Whitman books in the mall’s bookstore. The Walt Whitman mall is near where I grew up, so I got a kick out of that.

UFO: A Love Story by Ben Loory from Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day (

A relationship goes bad when a teenager becomes obsessed with trying to convince his town that he and his girlfriend saw a UFO, resulting in him hoaxing the town with a full-scale invasion.

The Nook by Matthew Revert from How to Avoid Sex and Other Stories (

About a love triangle between two men and an apartment. It has a hidden nook that the man who lives in the apartment doesn’t know about, but the other one does.

Bio: Bradley Sands is the author of TV Snorted My Brain, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and other books. Visit him at