Notes on the Fiction Selections

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December 21, 2020 by The Citron Review

Recently, I read an article about the physical and mental benefits of reading. The article detailed the theory of mind—the conclusion that long-term literary fiction reading is essential in building skills that help in the formation and maintenance of social relationships. Research also concludes that reading on a regular basis will help a person learn to empathize more, prevents cognitive decline associated with age, reduces stress and feelings of depression, and may even help a person live longer. 

I think many readers and writers know these facts without reading an article on the matter, but it feels good to be reminded that taking time to read is important for our well-being. This reminder could also be why I lamented while reviewing what I had read this year and what I had not. Then, out of nowhere, my oldest son asked me, “Mom, do you know how many books we’ve read this year? So many!” And I suddenly felt better about my literary year. 

I feel fortunate to read flash submissions for Citron, especially in a time when people need comfort from the written word. This year, submissions arrived in a steady stream, and it was a great comfort to silence the outside world and settle in for an afternoon of reading. I feel confident that if you spend some time with Citron in this Winter issue, you might find the salve you need as we end this difficult year. 

“Visitation 4” by Kim Parko is beautiful and surreal. Parko’s imagery is vivid, and even with numerous interpretations of the narrator’s identity and what the purpose of the visit should be, the story works because the imagery is so solid and grounded in sensory experience. With each reading, the narrator could be a man, a woman, an animal and immediately, the thought that there could be three previous visitations comes to mind. Parko’s story delivers a lot in a small number of words; that is very much an example of what Citron looks for in the work we publish.

“Dearest Timothy” by Lucy Wilde is written as a letter to an ex. The story gives a picture of the natural reversal of care—parents take care of their children and then children grow up to take care of their parents. This reversal is not always easy, or even wanted, and Wilde portrays this reality with attention and care. Did Timothy have to leave? Was he forced to leave? Was it on good terms? Is he dead? It may not matter because Wilde uses both the narrator’s tone and concrete details to show Timothy is missing out regardless.

“Keeping Time” by Niles Reddick paints the natural rhythm of life we hear walking down a busy street, in a crowded place, with our heartbeats. Musicians hear it. The narrator learns it from a great grandmother who gave the narrator the gift of music through the piano. It was where Reddick pointed out rhythms that made this piece stand out—in unpleasant childhood experiences, a mother’s car, and the sweet passing of a loved one with the only earthly understanding we can afford. 

“The Fog” by Carrie Etter is a meditation on death that involves an accident with a school bus and a deer. The story’s heart centers on a theme of innocence. It’s not unlike when we learn that Santa is not real, and we cannot unlearn it or the moment children realize that everything dies, will die. To learn of our own mortality in such a tangible way is a universal experience that here, resonates clearly from Etter’s emotive details.

“A Girl Walks Home in the Snow” by A.M. Henry is a series of repeated scenes unraveling the concept that the title teases. Each pass relays a little more connection to nature and a narrowing of the scene’s conclusion. What stands out about Henry’s writing is that even with a repeated structure, the careful chiseling of details results in a craving for more iterations to reveal more information between the narrator and the wolf as the piece concludes. 

I hope the flash pieces included in this issue ease stress and give you the distraction we could all use as we finish out the year that has been like no other.

 

Elizabeth De Arcos
Senior Fiction Editor
The Citron Review

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