SmokeLong Quarterly

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“Through the eyes of kids”—A Letter from the Editor

Story by Tara Laskowski December 14, 2015

There is much to be said about the wonder of stepping into a child’s point of view. One fabulous thing about having a preschooler around the house is that I get reminded of all the small joys in life, the pleasures of simple things like blowing bubbles, reading a book, picking dandelions, hiding and seeking.

This issue features a few stories from a child’s point of view—something, I believe, that is generally hard to pull off. I think many writers make the mistake of trying to write too young, of underestimating the amount that a kid can understand and process and relate to. I myself stumbled over writing from the point of view of a kid in a draft of a novel I wrote (and have yet to finish) because my pre-teen narrator sometimes sounded like he was 17 and sometimes sounded like he was 5. Yuck.

However, the stories in Issue 50 told to us by kids as narrators are delightful in their range and perception. We’ve got the darker side of this with the distant, wise-and-jaded-beyond-their-years kids in Elizabeth Morton’s “Parting” (read her chat with Michelle Elvy for more on this) and the grieving teenager in Colleen Kearney Rich’s “Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist.” A bit more whimsically, we’re pulled into the chaotic carnival world in “Not to Scale,” where our narrators discover that the quietest, smallest things can be the most unnerving.

In “Lampshades,” a young girl finds herself experimenting with her sexuality as she’s dealing with her place in the world and how others perceive her. Nicholas Olson’s “Brought to Shore” is a poignant and frank look at the way kids process death and dying of the ones closest to them.

Finally, I’d like to bring to your attention the issue number. SmokeLong is celebrating its 50th issue this month, and we are pretty excited about it! Thanks to you for going along with us on this wild journey.

We are hard at work determining the next Kathy Fish Fellow, and should be making the announcement of the winner in the next couple of weeks. Until then, keep writing and reading and have a wonderful holiday season. Remember above all to be kind to the people around you, now and always. As writers and readers, we make it our business to put ourselves in the shoes of other people, of people different than us. We make it our business to visit different worlds and imagine things that aren’t possible. With all of the terrible things going on in the real world around us, please remember to consider others, to remind yourself that everyone is going through something and that being kind and forgiving is the only way to make the world a better place.

And with that, I give you all hugs. Take care of yourself.

About the Author

Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as “a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills.” She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.


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