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Welcome to The Houston Literary Review
Fall 2007 Fiction pages
THLR is happy to present the short fiction work of Erin McKnight, J.A. Tyler, Jen Michalski, Shannon Prince, Marie Shield, Thaddeus Rutkowski and an experimental piece by John Blankenship.
Each other author brings a unique vision and voice to the stories published below. Some voices are mature, some experimental dialogues, others filled with words that paint emotional images across our consciousness or transport us into other cultures and times.
Readers can also view authors' short biographies and digital photographs below. THLR is experimenting with a document link for each story to ensure published pieces are more easily read and page use remains efficient. (Please click on the highlighted links to read selected stories.)

(Please be aware that some stories may not be suitable for children to read.)

THLR is proud to launch this issue with an exciting and moving piece of fiction The House Painter by Marie Shield.

 Marie Shield is a full time fiction writer - winner of writing awards from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Dionysians, Pariah Publishing and Mindprints Literary Journal. Her stories have been published in the anthology Curiouser and Curiouser, Static Movement, Mindprints and other journals. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Michael.

Shannon Prince is a creative writing major and junior at Dartmouth College.
In addition to writing, she is an activist for indigenous and African issues, a ceramics maker, and a travel addict. THLR hopes you enjoy The Big Zahirah by Shannon.

 Shannon spent this past winter studying abroad in Paris and will spend this fall and spring studying in Dublin and Buenos Aires, respectively. Her favorite activity is dancing the salsa with the elderly people she serves at a local Salvation Army community center.

Shannon writes poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction from nature and love poems, retellings of fairy tales, and the oral histories of marginalized people. She was published in Frodo's Notebook, Falcon Wings, KUHF magazine, Imprint, Rice University's Writers in the Schools Magazine, Illogical Muse, Damn Good Writing, Lost Beat Poetry, Haggard and Halloo, and The Green Muse. She also won Dartmouth's Thomas Ralston Prize for creative writing. She is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship recipient.

THLR presents the short story The Waters of Hel by Erin McKnight. Erin employs a lyrical inner-dialogue as her choice of narrative, reminding us of the self-talk that can be helpful or hurtful depending on our emotional state.

 Erin McKnight was born in Scotland and raised in South Africa, and currently resides in Virginia, USA. Erin is an assistant editor for The Rose & Thorn Literary E-Zine and teaches a class in flash fiction for the Long Story Short School of Writing. Erin’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Siren: A Literary & Art Journal, flashquake, PRECIPICe (Canada), Diddledog, The Flask Review, The Bergen Street Review, and is forthcoming in an anthology of work selected from issues of Ginosko Literary Journal. Erin is currently at work on her MFA in Creative Writing, with a specialty in fiction.

Houstonian John Blankenship is a skilled artisan, machinist, and CAD designer who believed that he could design a better putter for himself and average golfers. He created the LONESTARLUCKY putter. This is his first attempt at creative writing in the neo-narrative style.
THLR is happy to offer our readers the Seeds of Creation.




THLR is proud to offer our readers the short fiction A Matter of Seconds by J.A. Tyler.
J. A. Tyler is founding editor of Mud Luscious and, among other honors, his short fiction recently received several editorial nominations for the 2007 StorySouth Millions Writers Award. His work has lately appeared in or is forthcoming with Ramble Underground, Sein und Werden, Thieves Jargon, Ghoti, Syntax, & Underground Voices.
Visit J. A. Tyler or Mud Luscious at www.aboutjatyler.com.

THLR offers our readers the short fiction narrative Her Life Forward, His Life Backward by Jen Michalski.

 Jen lives in Baltimore. Her work has appeared in more than 25 publications, including McSweeney's, Failbetter, The Summerset Review, Hobart, and The Pedestal Magazine. Her collection of short fiction, Close Encounters, is available from So New Media. She is the editor of the online e-zine JMWW (http://JMWW.150m.com).

THLR presents the short work Nuts by Thaddeus Rutkowski. Thaddeus has a wonderful sense of dialogue and setting. The story easily captures the lives shared in a peaceful and inescapable poverty.

  Thaddeus Rutkowski grew up in central Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Cornell University and The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of the novels Tetched and Roughhouse. Both books were finalists for an Asian American Literary Award. Thaddeus teaches fiction writing at the Writers Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York and lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.

On his writing: My themes are somewhat similar. My stories are set in rural Pennsylvania (Appalachia), but my characters are not of that culture. The family I write about consists of a frustrated artist father (who is American), an immigrant mother (from China), and a boy who is searching for his identity in the middle of this situation. Being bi-racial, I think that race matters in discussions of identity--of course, other factors, such as gender and sexuality, matter, too. My stories are usually chapters or fragments of a larger story based on character growth. The story follows the boy as he sheds and/or retains elements of his childhood in later life.

My influences are varied. I admired the style and tone of Donald Barthleme and Richard Brautigan when I was a student. They were experimental prose writers, though they were also established in the lit world. I have tended to seek out short story writers: Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, Tobias Wolff, Matthew Klam. I also try to read the classics. Now, I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula--it's hellish and surprisingly modern. All this when I'm not reading my adult students' work (I'm off from teaching in the summer.)