Greetings from Korea (insert postcard of neon crosses lighting up the Busan skyline here). I've been thinking, probably unsurprisingly, about communication. Maybe it's that I've been reading Joy Williams's The Quick and the Dead, with its fantastically strange dialogue (review pending), or maybe it's just the whole idea of two weddings, one Korean and one American, or maybe it's that I'm revising a story about cannibals that try to stop being cannibals after a little loving contact with a group of Europeans, I don't know. But communicaton seems all the rage these days.
It's a strange thing. We read so much fiction by authors who were ostracized in their youths and who write about ostracized characters, yet it seems especially true in stories that people need people to talk to. (Unless you like those stories with only one character--I generally don't.) This doesn't necessarily mean people really get to communicate, but it means they're trying. I re-read Carver's Cathedral recently, and what struck me about the collection is how much more grace seems offered to the characters than in his earlier stories, and how that grace comes through finding someone to communicate with. I don't mean to say these stories are better--I actually prefer the earlier ones--but stories like "Fever" and "A Small, Good Thing" allow characters to connect in a way that some of the earlier stories don't. This seems to give the book a more hopeful take on life.
So, since I'm in a hopeful mood, full of Christmas spirit and eggnog, I think I'll give my cannibals a chance to connect . . . just before they eat each other. I guess what I meant to talk about was how giving your protagonist someone who will listen to him can be a great thing for fiction, but oh well. Instead, I'll recommend some recent lit mag releases (shameless plugs and more!): Redivider, MAR, Black Warrior Review's sad animal issue. Read.