Content Tagged ‘best of ecotone’

Introducing “The Ranger Queen of Sulphur” by Stephanie Soileau

Stephanie Soileau’s “The Ranger Queen of Sulphur” is a masterful exploration of the traps we see and unwittingly set for ourselves when we accept too many limitations.

I grew up in a small decaying town, and I know the feeling of being trapped, the sense of having no options, that can prevail in these areas. Stephanie Soileau’s “The Ranger Queen of Sulphur” is set in one of these towns—Sulphur, Louisiana—and tells the story of Deana, a young woman in her mid-twenties who has eschewed self-improvement all her life and is now trapped in a low-paying, exploitative job she hates. Never one to hope for herself, Deana fixates on helping her brother, Jonathan, overcome his obesity.

The language of the piece is simple and straightforward, perfectly capturing Deana’s thoughts, and the bleak, hopeless atmosphere, without sacrificing art or lyricism. The sentences have a quiet rhythm, forlorn and practical, yet musical. Each scene too is well-drawn, giving a sense of completeness and desolation.

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First Paragraph from “Leap” by Marisa Silver

“The girls were manning a lemonade stand—a medium-size Dixie cup for fifty cents, or a cup with a Hydrox cookie for seventy-five. Sheila, her older sister Trudy, and Maggie and Jeannie, ten-year-old twins who lived down the street, sat on folding chairs behind the small card table the twins’ mother had loaned them. The backs of Sheila’s thighs burned from the heat trapped in the metal of the chair. She wore culottes, a combination of a miniskirt and shorts. Sometimes she thought of the outfit in the opposite way, as shorts mixed with a miniskirt. But today it was the first version because Maggie and Jeannie were both younger, and because, for once, Trudy was not pressing down on Sheila’s soul as she were a thumbtack.”

—Marisa Silver

Excerpted from “Leap” from Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk
and Abandon from
Ecotone’s First Decade. Copyright © 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington. Used by permission of Lookout Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Introducing “The Year of Silence” by Kevin Brockmeier

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I am a person who has spent a good deal of time in loud, crowded cities all over the world, and an almost equal amount of time in rural areas where the silence is sometimes so heavy that breathing it in feels almost like smoke. I have always had a complicated relationship with sound; I am easily distracted and prefer silence, but I can’t go more than a few months without needing to clear my head in the all-consuming noise of a big city. When it’s winter, or when I visit friends and family in quiet rural areas, my skin starts to itch after a day or two of quiet.

For this reason, the premise of Kevin Brockmeier’s knockout story “The Year of Silence”—in which a normal, unnamed city begins to fall intermittently, inexplicably silent, then becomes a city its surprisingly contented residents work together to keep silent—was intoxicating to me on a personal, nostalgic level as well as a literary one. It is precisely the kind of strange, conceptual, lyric story that I as a reader am always searching for in literary magazines.

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Ecotone and Lookout staff introduce our favorite stories from Astoria to Zion

With the forthcoming March 2014 publication of Astoria to Zion, Ecotone celebrates ten years of publication. During that time the magazine has established itself as a preeminent venue for original short fiction from both recognized and emerging writers. More than twenty stories from the first sixteen issues have been reprinted or noted in the Best American, New Stories from the South, Pushcart, and PEN/O. Henry series.

Over the next few months, leading up to the best of Ecotone publication, we’ll celebrate by introducing a favorite story from the anthology. Watch for new entries by Lookout and Ecotone staff members each Wednesday, and as always, follow our blog for other updates. 

First Paragraph from “The Wreckers” by George Makana Clark

December 17,1820

Dearest Ezadurah,

With luck, this will reach you before I’m missed. Time comes when a man has to rattle his fortune and see what shakes out, so says my new fast friend, and by God, with my lungs filled with sea air, the salt spray in my face, I reckon he’s right.

—George Makana Clark

Excerpted from “The Wreckers” from Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. Copyright © 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington. Used by permission of Lookout Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.