Notes on the Fiction Selections

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March 19, 2020 by The Citron Review

After spending five and half years in the San Francisco Bay Area, my family and I are moving back home to Phoenix. I say back home because living in California has never felt like home. When we moved to California, I was pregnant with my youngest son. He’s a California native. A good portion of his conscious memories is of California. Though we lived in another house, in another city during the first year of his life, he does not remember it. Ideas of home have been on my mind as I begin to pack our house. What makes a home?

As I was doing final read-throughs of the flash for this issue, I found I was not the only one pondering these questions. In “A Primo Place to Stay,” Melissa Llanes Brownlee explores home in Hawaii. One thing that struck our fiction team about the piece was the sensory details that furniture conjured and the connections to a mother, only present through memory. Lines like “…her right leg draped over the top, calf grooved with curved indentions of rattan” evoke nostalgia, as many remember the furniture of our childhood homes, the homes of relatives. I still dream about one of my childhood homes and the scratchy tan couch we had in the living room.

I also dream of my Gran’s dinner plates, so reading about a man post-break-up, finding a remnant of his lover in Kylie Westerlind’s “Dish” signaled to me and won us over because of the cataloguing of a man’s routines and the way they reflect on past relationships: “They were recluses, never meeting each other’s friends. They hardly spoke of the other. He didn’t know why. He wasn’t a secretive person. They slept together, woke up and ate breakfast together, read the news in silence. They went to work. They brought back their own dinners, hers vegetarian.” Within these lines, the characters’ personalities are fleshed out in a direct and meaningful way.

“The Border Town” by Mehr-Afarin Kohan is about a family on a road trip, during which an interaction with local children prompts both fear and mystery. The rhythm of the piece kept us reading, while the concrete images of a remembered vacation struck a string of what it means to be old enough to fully understand events from our youth. We selected “Give Me a Break” by D.H. Valdez because it is written well, and with humor and verve. We do not often have a chance to celebrate pieces like this in our form.

We are publishing this issue at a very interesting time in our lives, a time we will always remember. I hope, in perhaps the extra time you have been given, between packing, like me, or figuring out how to entertain your children, also like me, you will have a chance to sit down and drown out the stress of what is around you and have a good read.


Elizabeth De Arcos
Senior Fiction Editor
The Citron Review


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