SmokeLong Quarterly

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“Zooming In”—A Letter from the Editor

Story by Tara Laskowski December 17, 2018

On January 1 of this year, my son and I were playing with the LEGOs he got for Christmas. In one of the little packs was a mini-figure that came with a passport, with pictures showing a few of his adventures. Wouldn’t it be funny, we said, if we took a picture of this guy doing something different every day of the year?

We named the mini-figure Carl, fashioned him some LEGO skis, and took our first picture. And so it began. Our weird year-long project, which we called #365DaysofCarl. (You can read more about it here on my blog.)

Yes, that’s Carl in our cover art for Issue 62—one of his many adventures throughout 2018. His adventures have ranged from the mundane—working at a desk on a laptop with his coffee—to the dangerous—getting chopped in half by a kitchen knife. Each photo, though, forced me to look at the world in a different way. To zoom in. To capture something small, a creative burst, a microcosm of weird.

This is, of course, what we do when we write flash fiction as well. Look at the world in a slightly different way. Try to think smaller, to use something tiny to suggest something oh so much larger.

I feel like our last issue of 2018, like my Carl project, is a showcase highlighting the beauty of both the mundane activities in our lives and the extreme. There’s the quiet magic in “Cow” by Gary Fincke that explores the way grief changes our perceptions. Contrast that with the dramatic, yet charming, end-of-the-world devastation in Ellen Rhudy’s “Glory Days.”

One of my very favorite stories in the issue is also the quietest—“Itinerary” by Laurinda Lind—in which the narrator takes her dogs on a walk. The magic of this story is the character and her voice, and the delightful way she thinks about life—and approaching death. “Tomorrow it’s going to be the same decision, tree path or lake path. We agree to forget how we’ve seen that it doesn’t really matter,” she says. It’s an understated, wonderfully humorous story that makes me want to be best friends with the narrator.

We are constantly amazed at the versatility of flash fiction and how it can be profoundly effective in showing us the small tragedies of life or the strange, devastating catastrophes. I feel like this issue in particular does a great job of highlighting this wide spectrum.

As we wrap up another year of SmokeLong, we want to thank you all for staying with us. We are grateful to all our contributors, guest editors, artists, submitters, and readers for your support and love. It means a great deal.

Happy holidays. We’ll see you in 2019.


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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