Friday, February 17, 2012


Here's a nice one, a 1929 eight-cent Grant. No real talent in finding stamps. They're everywhere. But turn it over. That's where talent comes in.

What do you see? A creased corner? A filigree of discoloration? Sure. But I see Emerson Montgomery, son of Christian and Myrtle, manager at Illinois Savings and Loan. I also see him cinching a rope, mounting a chair, slipping the hempen hoop over his head.

There are rules to it. I only see suicides that fall in the printing year -- or are going to fall.

Now, I got your card. We need to talk.

Postscript: To listen to audio of this and other stories, please download Season One of the I Saw Lightning Fall podcast here.


pattinase (abbott) said...

My grandfather had a fabulous stamp collection. But my grandmother outlived him by thirty years and sold it. Too bad.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

Loving these flash-fic pieces.

In relatively unrelated news, you might be interested in this (second part) article about fiction (mild language warning, as the full title demonstrates):

Gems include:

"Examining the tools and materials you're working with, asking yourself what is necessary and what is simply easy, what is your own and what you borrowed. Asking yourself repeatedly why you are writing what you're writing, is it still what you want to be writing, has it become something else, something more or less interesting than when you started out? Being willing to take it apart again and start over. And most of all, most especially if you are working with well-worn tropes or retellings or engaging vigorously with the Great Conversation, be that the science fictional one, the critical one, or the one you've been having with your friends for the last ten years, does this thing you end up with look and sound like you? How have you added to or subtracted from the model you started with?"


"I think that in the beginning, most of us try on the voices of other writers, because we love them, because they resonate with us, because we want to see what fits and what doesn't. You're Sylvia Plath for a year, then you're Ursula Le Guin, then you're Charles Stross, then you're Jane Austen, then you're Homer for awhile. Eventually you come out with a technicolor dreamcoat of all the bits of voice and technique and style you've loved, minus what you don't, and stitched together with what is uniquely yourself, and that's what we call a voice."

The first big quote gets at what I mean when I distance myself from the message of my stories, or any author from the message of stories, but emphasize a link nonetheless beween authorial belief (or, if you must, intent, though I try not to intend stories) and a story's texture. I think most of her paragraph locates "intent" (or something like it) in difference--how are you adding to the field.

It's one thing to say "I intend to add real considerations of religion (and Christianity) to the overly hermetically-sealed world of Science Fiction, because the religious impulse in general and Christianity's answers in particular are important to me." It's another to say "I want to write this story in such a way that it illustrates such-and-such a point."
The former would be me writing speculative fiction, bringing my voice--my experience literary and physically--to the genre and making it different. The latter would be me trying to write a sophisticated sermon illustration, curtailed in its ability to ask questions or re-present the complexity of lived reality.

Loren Eaton said...


My grandmother had a coin collection like that -- except we kept it!

Loren Eaton said...


Looks like an interesting article. I'm going to try to read it once my baby-induced sleeplessness goes away.