I read a lot of short fiction. I like most of it just fine. Someone’s marriage is in peril. Someone’s job is in peril. Something is said at dinner that sends all of the protagonist’s regrets and mistakes and losses bubbling up to the surface. The story ends and I’m more or less satisfied; I’ve been taken on a short trip into the lives of others by a competent and caring writer, someone acutely aware of life’s precious intricacies, someone with an eye for the things worth seeing, but that are so often overlooked.
But then I close the book or the journal and the story becomes nothing more than that generic three sentence summary I gave in the previous paragraph. The story is gone.
Kevin Wilson’s “A Birth in the Woods,” originally published in Ecotone 6.2, is no such piece of short fiction. It lingers. It demands your attention from the first line—“He had been warned that there would be blood”—and continues to demand it long after the final period.Continue Reading