One of my missions as the new editor-in-chief here at Autostraddle is to expand and develop our literature vertical. We live in a very cool time for enlightened LGBTQ + people of all genders! I want to bring you more book and review lists, interviews with queer and trans authors, and more! I am also personally a huge fan of short fiction films, which never get enough love.
Full Disclosure: This post is somewhat of an experience! I want to gauge our readers’ interest in short fiction roundups. I’m playing around with the idea of creating recurring “news playlists” in which I pick a vibe / theme / etc. and choose about five stories that match to recommend. Does this sound interesting to you? So let me know!
For now, here are some great queer tales available online for you to dive into this weekend!
“The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror” by Carmen Maria Machado, published in Granta
Back at the theater, Sabine lifted Maxa’s feet up on the cot, then pulled her right chest against the wall. She slapped her lightly on the cheek and Maxa moaned. Sabine handed me the bottle. I poured the liquid out with a shaking hand and rested the spoon against Maxa’s tongue. She bit the metal and swallowed softly. Her eyes opened and I felt like I was on the edge of a cave entrance, fully intent on jumping into it.
I first encountered this story while reading the short fiction anthology Twist. This is, by far, my favorite story in the book. This one is for my theater freaks. But also my crazy historical fiction! It takes place in early 20th century Paris at the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, known for its horror shows. The horror of this story is subtle and leans psychosexual. Read it if you go for some haunted vibes this weekend. And read more of Carmen’s fictional shorts in her popular collection v his body and other parts.
“Judy in Her Good Robe” by T Kira Māhealani Madden, published in Virginia Quarterly Review
It would be dishonest of me to say that I sometimes didn’t feel romantic towards my other self. Late nights with company will do that to anyone, rootless in and out of sleep, my own voice on the line saying, Still there? right in me.
In this slightly surreal and painful short story, a character begins to receive phone calls from… himself. His life has recently been turned upside down by the death of his wife, and these strange and impossible calls only compound his disorienting and drifting feelings of grief. It’s sad, but it’s also funny in the surprising outbursts. If you haven’t read T Kira’s memoir yet, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ?!
“Five Wounds” by K-Ming Chang, published in Soft Punk
Lily stood up and walked towards the aisles, kneeling on the carpet, then she slumped onto her back and parted her limbs, shaking her ribs in silver music, her mouth open and her tongue sticking out, shining. the air of saliva.
Like just about all of K-Ming’s fantastic works, the language of this story is a perfect blend of violence and beauty. This one has it all: part-time ghost work at a theme park, tongues and spit, and a church.
Also, if you don’t have a lot of time to read this weekend but still want to sink into another world for a short while, K-Ming is a flash fiction wizard. Taste these little stories: “Filet-O-Fish”, “Gloria” and “The Daughters Ding”. And get more of K-Ming from his novel Bestiary.
“Wild Ale” by SJ Sindhu, published in Electric Literature
“I have finished my wild beer,” I say. “Do you want to know what I used?” “
Adria interrupts me before I can tell her about yarrow.
“We have to pay the credit card,” she said. “I just received the statement.”
“Okay.” My heart skips a step.
Here’s another funny-sad story, this one about the brides quarantined together during the first months of the pandemic and the hobby plaguing their marriage. It’s a domestic horror story, and it’s also proof that people who still think no one should write pandemic fiction should shut up 🙂
Plus, SJ has a new novel that just came out at the end of 2021! Check it out!
“Ground Fighting” by Venita Blackburn, published in Story
I hadn’t given much thought to how bodies are supposed to love each other. Maybe we had been lovers all this time, and I didn’t recognize him. We had struggled in class, we were holding each other, tugging on our knuckles on the verge of separation.
This story of a young, queer intersex character is so loving and charming and tinged with heartbreak and longing. He grapples with the loss of a parent, high school sports drama, the first crushes. There is a X files reference! And the writing of the Southern California location is phenomenal. This story is one of the linked stories in the brilliant collection of Venita How to fight a girl.
Have you read anything good lately? Would you like to see more short fiction recommendations on Autostraddle? Let me know in the comments!