"an Afghan war vet allergic to the sun"

Couple winters ago, I was on a Greyhound back from Ashland, OR to Oroville, CA, and there was this lady talking about working at a VFW bar because her dad had been a soldier in Desert Storm (I know! But the math works: she was ten while he was over there). One of the many interesting things in her talking was her talking about this dad, who'd been discharged from the military because he kept getting sick. It turned out he was allergic to that giant and nearby star, that weird yellow thing that some worship, others buy lotion against, and kids add to everything they draw.

Shameless and attentive, I remembered everything she said. Later, in the Spring, I realized that I finally had something for a story I'd been working on for a few years. Before her, all I'd had was a cab driver and his pregnant wife, and the cab driver knocking on their landlord's door "like a hump of instant mashed potatoes." Now, for some weird reason, I had a whole story. So my thanks to her and to the whole notion of vocal strangerhood.

Luckily, that gives away pretty much nothing about the actual story, which I encourage you to read in the newest American Short Fiction, edited by the supreme Jill Meyers and Stacey Muszynski. Jill was super with edits and help. Good editing makes writing feel less lonely and insane, like the way rock salt goes into the ice cream maker. Can I hire someone to tally how many times ice cream has appeared in my life of analogy making? If you're too busy for that but not too busy for reading stories, maybe you want to check out the new ASF, which along with my story has terrific stories from Laura van den Berg, Matt Bell, Susan Steinberg, Jeff Parker, Marie-Helene Bertino, and Jamey Hecht. Jill's intro advertises "acrobats, cowboys, nuns, a mock rodeo clown, an Afghan war vet allergic to the sun, a brick-carrying babysitter, [and] a gambling giraffe with a penchant for terza rima," which sounds right up an awesome alley, right? Like an alley behind an [ice cream analogy]. Check it out!


ryan call said...

well done brother mike

Mike Young said...

thank you brother ryan