Monday, March 19, 2012


Finished Stripped, a collection of flash fiction edited by Nicole Monaghan. The collection focuses mainly on relationships and gender roles, but not exclusively. What makes this anthology unique is that the bylines have been removed, so the author for each piece remains anonymous. All the author bios are listed at the end, but names won't be matched with stories until a year from now. The idea is that the anonymity of the author's name will "strip" away their gender. It's an interesting way to explore how, or if, we read and interpret writing (especially sex/relationship writing) differently when an author becomes androgynous.

The collection was a really enjoyable read, but now I'm a bit frustrated that I can't follow up on exploring the writers' other work, since there are some really standout pieces. Alas! Guess I'll be firing up google and searching the names of the 44 writers I don't already recognize. I can't wait a year!

Here are some passages:

From "The Distance Between the Bridge and the River"
The river is not safe for swimming, so the city built a bridge to span it. To get to work, Amanda walks across the bridge. She crosses at 8:22 a.m. and at 5:07 p.m. She walks on the right side of the bridge in the morning and on the left side of the bridge in the evening. She never lingers. She cannot see where the river begins and ends. She thinks the distance between the bridge and the river is not far. Maybe three or four seconds, if that.
If that.

From "Seven Happy Endings"
I see her from time to time, grabbing coffee at Starbucks, going grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, reading at Barnes and Noble. Once I saw her at the farmer's market buying a block of cheese, and she gave a small piece to her Golden Retriever and I felt like dying.


I don't care anymore. She probably took so many drugs she floated away. Soon I'll adopt my own dog, a Beagle, tell everyone he is graduating from training, have a party for him. His graduation cake can be made of cheese. I can buy a house just for us and we can decorate it with other people's junk. But these plans, they're not my life, yet. I'm enjoying this in-between state. Now it's just me and I'm going to do big things with my time.

From "Grover Cleveland Has It Out with America On The Eve of His Second Inauguration"
America, I am feeling vulnerable tonight. I am bright gold foil over melted chocolate. I am the moon made of mercury, cinnamon, and asbestos. I am more machine than man but my heart, my heart is soft as nougat and sad as the end of seasons.


Oh, America. WTF, as Thomas Jefferson would have said. This country is a bowl of dick--yet, I feel such love for you. You have a young, bright spirit, lit in you like newborn stars, like fireflies over flame. I expect great things of you. Your future is a Mad Lib: you can be brave and foolish and cruel and clean and kind and murderous and hopeful and yes, even sexy. You can be anything you want to be, America.

No, I don't know what that has to do with gender roles or relationships, but it's hilarious.

From "Jerry's Life as Sung to 'I Think We're Alone Now'"
I ran and ran but they kept moving the finish line. After two and a half decades I realized that the finish line was in their heads, not mine. I stopped running. Even now, so many keep running, faster, faster--how do they do it? Bare feet. Gravel.

If anyone knows the author of the Grover Cleveland piece, could you let me know? Yes, yes. Of course the story I'm most interested in uses the phrase "bowl of dick."

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