DB11 Fiction—The Glistening Mundane

After joining Drunken Boat in August, I read all of the content already chosen for Issue 11 with great interest. In the following months, I solicited and accepted a handful of pieces that I thought would complement the folio. Included in this folio are writers that dig deeply into loneliness, loss, identity and intimacy, pressing readers to more deeply consider gender and sexuality, the challenges of interpersonal relationships and the territories of privilege or lack thereof.

These are stories of everyday human experience but stories spectacular in a glistening mundane. Strong voices demand our attention to the subtleties of everyday human experience, as we swerve too through the strange and imaginative.

Many of these pieces seem in fact to resist binary ways of looking at identity and difference, crossing borders of thought and experience. Steve Almond’s flash fiction piece reflects a sinking loneliness in “a tribe coming to believe in the absurdity of their bodies.” g. martinez cabrera furnishes a supernatural shimmer to a son’s relationship with his father, both during and after his father’s death. Simon in Balli Kaur Jaswal’s “Uncle Song,” as well as Laura in Megan Kruse’s “The Creek,” delicately nudge the reader to meditate on the way in which difference from the status quo alienates and marginalizes. Beth Couture’s narrator in “Evolution” is reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Mr. Stevens in Remains of the Day. Between what is said and what is not said, the reader must engage more intensely with the story to mediate difficult questions of belonging.

Drunken Boat celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. These stories mark a moment in which to look back and to gaze ahead, standing at the threshold of the journal’s next decade. Every one of the nineteen stories gathered here fully inhabits its particular way of being in this world. The result is a collection of fictions each of which make extraordinary and clear what would otherwise be ordinary and lusterless.

These are stories in the glistening mundane. “These are the things I keep in my heart,” Ron McLean’s night dentist might say. “Open wide,” he might add, “this won’t hurt a bit.”

Deborah Marie Poe
Fiction Editor, Drunken Boat
January 2010