Our father, Charles Hartley II, hanged himself in the attic in the spring of 1977. I was five years old. My brother Kelly was eleven. May 25th: the same day that Star Wars opened, though I didn’t make that connection until later.
To the casual observer, the interior of the Pittsfield Building, in the Jewelers Row District of downtown Chicago, resembles the setting for some seedy film noir. The Gothic-style, marble-faced atrium, replete with burnished brass mail chutes and antiquated shops – mostly other obsolete jewelers – struck Sid Kaplan as a cell, one in which he had been confined for the last thirty-six years of his life, ever since he agreed, however hastily, to continue the family trade.
Long Story, Short's April 2017 edition is by Hackney Prize and Knut House Prize winning writer J.A. Bernstein. 'The Brothers Kaplan' brings readers into the confidence of two men whose private lives are hidden from each other, their estrangement exacerbated by one's acceptance, and the other's rejection, of family legacy. READ 'THE BROTHERS KAPLAN'.
Something had caught hold of her at the grave, had reached inside her and awoken a tremendous urge to go home once more. Now nothing would do to set it aright other than to head out at once for Ballinlough before it was too late. Mary Frances accompanied her, muttering all the while that Annie wouldn’t appreciate unexpected visitors.
The March 2017 edition of Long Story, Short Journal is 'Entrusted' by Irish writer Fiona Whyte. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, we have a tale of two countries -- of the Irish who travelled to America for work, adventure or escape -- and the inevitable impact such a distance would have on a family. READ 'ENTRUSTED' BY FIONA WHYTE.
February 2017 brings us Rhoda Greaves's unique short story, 'Makeup Tips for the Mature Woman'. Against a backdrop of editorial advice for aging gracefully, this story's heroine grapples with grief, aging and identity with human awkwardness and vulnerable dignity, leading her to an unpredictable and transcendent encounter with youth. READ 'MAKEUP TIPS FOR THE MATURE WOMAN'.
The night our grandfather died was a night without stars, the snow falling in endless repeat, first veiling the moon, the constellations, then the sharp edges of buildings – our whole world. Toward the end, when my grandfather seemed only to be lingering of his own will, I stood outside the main entrance of the hospital, looking for headlights; stunned by the deep and unsettling quiet of St Paul under snow and then by the long keening wail of a siren inching toward Emergency, the neon lights there obscured by snow and ice and hope.
Albert felt the strong weight of work in his shoulders, a hot glow at the base of his back, tight up into his neck. It was not the career his mother might have planned – in the old country, Albert, a clerk is a fine thing to be – but a brief apprenticeship in book-keeping had at least been enough to get him here and here was so unexpected, so wonderful, that for Albert to be here was enough.
The November 2016 edition of Long Story, Short Journal is 'The Aerialist' by Morgan Downie. Witness the trapeze act of a well-loved mathematician living out an alternative reality that might have been his, given all the potential that time and space holds, both in science, and in fiction. READ 'THE AERIALIST'.
The October 2016 edition of Long Story, Short Journal is by award winning Irish writer Dolores Walshe. 'The Man in the Parallel Universe' is a portrait of a wife of a Vietnam veteran, who is soon to be a widow, but grieving a man she lost long ago. This tale is not only an exploration of grief, but of survival, and the moments of compassion that sustain us. READ 'THE MAN IN THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE'.
This thing is Greg all over. He read a Greek mythology book and the assignment was to make a board game, so here’s our beat-up Fireball Island from the garage with “Olympus! The Game!” written on one side in white out. He’s hot-glued some of his action figures at the corners. Superman (minus the cape) is Zeus, I think. I can’t really figure out the rest so I ask.
“Dad,” he says and rolls his eyes. “That’s Batman, Wolverine, and Spider-Man.”
“But which Greek gods are they?”
“They’re just Batman, Wolverine, and Spider-Man.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
He points at a sticky note that reads, “This is very creative, Greg!” A-minus, smiley face. Greg beams and presses his tongue through the gap where a baby tooth used to be.
The night of the robbery Ruth had gone to bed early with The Housebreaker of Shady Hill. She was stunned by this coincidence; it was her opening line in class the next day. “We were robbed last night, and guess what I was reading.” The kids hooted and crowed in jolly disbelief, or rather the kids who had actually read the story fell about laughing and the others quickly caught on. Ruth laughed along with them. She supposed she should be more upset.
The August 2016 edition of Long Story, Short Journal is 'Housebroken' by Evelyn Walsh, with a photo by Aurélie Bellacicco. Evelyn Walsh, the 2015 winner of the Seán Ó Faoláin International short story competition, often scrutinises the drama of everyday life in her work. Home, neighbourhood and the workplace are observed with a literary lense, and her characters' lives are relayed with wit, compassion and an unrelenting honesty. READ 'HOUSEBROKEN'.
"He had often wondered at the time how Mr and Mrs P – who were both large and soft and spread themselves widely – could have produced so slight a daughter, a girl whose skeleton one could always sense, just below the surface. He had pondered childhood illnesses, consumption even, before reminding himself it was the twentieth century."
July 2016's edition of Long Story, Short Journal is by writer Guy Ware, whose debut novel The Fat of Fed Beasts was declared "brilliant" by Nick Lezard in the Guardian. This month's short story, 'The Landlord's Daughter', confronts the fragility of memory and the vulnerability of the individual facing the classic question: how well one can truly know another human being? READ 'THE LANDLORD'S DAUGHTER'.
"This week, I have at last found some work—chauffeuring dignitaries to and from a gathering of Nobel-prize winners at the old university in Heidelberg. This particular Laureate resembles a handsome pope. He looks seventy and he looks virile, the kind of man who would attempt intercourse with a tree from a high-speed train."
Take a hallucinatory chauffeured tour of Heidelberg to dive bars, academic luncheons, and the homes of unmentionable historical figures in Andrew Meehan's 'Laureate'. The protagonist has a voice you won't soon forget. Read the June 2016 edition of Long Story, Short Journal: Laureate. Photo by German photographer Raul Lieberwirth.
Endangered sea creatures and endangered friendships feature in May 2016's edition of Long Story, Short Journal: 'No Wake' by Jenna Isherwood. A visit to Florida swampland searching for the vulnerable that lives just beneath the surface makes for perfect early summer reading. Photo by Bob Miller. READ 'NO WAKE'.