Tag: short fiction

The Uprising (An Absurdist, Woke Fairy Tale)

 

Franklin Jefferson Grant sipped his early-morning espresso and, wrapped in his warm flannel robe, lay comfortably in his bed with little reason to suspect that the new day might choose to intrude and distract him from his iPad with something unexpected or threatening; even the tingling sensation just under the skin of his toes, though hardly common on Tuesdays, gave him no cause for alarm; and so we may sympathize with his utter astonishment when, upon rereading the fascinating Financial Times article on small growth mutual funds, he should hear the sharp, accusatory cry of “Oppressor!” as his feet turned on him in open revolt.

Now the reader must keep in mind that, except for his two teenage boys, Franklin had no grounds for suspecting absurdity in the universe. Until this particular Tuesday morning, he had been quite content with his life as an egalitarian husband, progressive father, and humble professor of composition and literature. Now he was perturbed, for he sensed his lack of an adequate intellectual foundation for responding to this situation. He cautiously lowered his iPad.

Book Review: Big in Heaven

 

“Don’t worry, my friend, for Raskova,” she whispered to me. “I clean baby [crap]. It small thing. You sit. Read.” She said, “I am here,” tapping the pages with socket-wrench fingers. “At Dachau too, my job, priest say, sew sheets for vestment, is very small, he tell me, but big in heaven.” (p. 13)

Big in Heaven is a book of short stories, by Fr. Stephen Siniari, centered in and around the people of the fictional Saint Alexander the Whirling Dervish* parish, an ethnically Albanian church in a Fishtown neighborhood. The stories mostly follow the parish priest, Father Naum, through a variety of times, places, and narrators (some more reliable than others). The stories are not sequential. In some we find Naum young and impatient, in others, we find Naum near retirement, wiser, but bearing the scars of many years. In all of the tales, we bear witness to how the parishioners and their friends and neighbors are simply living their lives as well as they know how saints and sinners alike.

Each of the tales is a brief glimpse into the lives of the people of the parish. Through the changing voices of the narrator we learn, sometimes, of backstories and histories of the people, but not always. Sometimes the backstories are unnecessary or merely inferred. Not all of the people belong to the parish – Father Naum is friends with an Evangelical pastor, and regularly has tea with the rabbi of the synagogue across the street. The author studiously avoids common ecumenical stereotypes, however, in these interactions, and each person has his or her own voice and motivations.

The Near Side of Space

 

“This is really important. I need this at the top of your list.”

The boss-man looks haggard. He’s definitely not been getting enough sleep. And, judging by the look in his eye, he knows exactly how silly of a request he’s making. He’s still gotta make it. He and I aren’t the only ones on this call, and the boss-man has boss-men of his own to appease. That’s life.