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Beyond the Fence: A Short Collection of Stories Paperback – June 1, 2016
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"Marilyn's flash fiction stays with you. It sticks to your ribs. That's why we enjoyed reading and performing a few of her short pieces at Play On Words; her images and characters pack a punch. We're delighted to see more of her work out in the world." --Julia Halprin Jackson, Play On Words "Marilyn's stories combine the earthy and the mystical. Her characters populate a shifting world where "circumstances had conspired against them," and yet they laugh and take action in the face of great strife. Within these pages, you'll meet a rollicking cast: Big Gal the remaining city-aquarium dolphin, siblings Cassie and Freddie and their planetary study from Our Wonderful Solar System, Chico the Chihuahua, and other heart-filled and hope-challenged characters you won't soon forget. The symbolism, particularly of the mobile made of armadillo bones, will stay with you long after you close the cover and invite you back in for a second read. These are stories not to be missed." --Melanie Faith, MFA, creative-writing instructor at Women on Writing (WOW!) and adjunct English professor at Southern New Hampshire University graduate school
About the Author
Marilyn Horn writes speculative and literary fiction and creative nonfiction. Her stories have appeared in literary journals, been performed by San Jose's Play on Words, and presented at Flash Fiction Forum. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism and works as a technical editor in Silicon Valley. You can contact Marilyn Horn at marilynhornwriting.com.
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These stories are about death, loneliness, connection to others, and the extremes we go to in finding how to live with these things. Also, healing. And hope. Although some of the subject matter is rather dark, I find the book uplifting.
The longest story in the collection is just under 3,000 words, the shortest only 150. But they are so rich and dense, they feel longer. The entire book is only 46 pages, but it contains fully developed worlds populated by real people. Marilyn Horn's skill with detail and language make this possible.
The more I work on this collection, the more I love it. I'm looking forward to reading more of Marilyn Horn's fiction, and I'm looking forward to rereading Beyond the Fence, again.
Each story is like a friend, maybe a strange unique friend. And like a friend, you get to know them more and like them more with every interaction.
While many of the stories touched on sickness or death, my students could learn from Horn’s deft ability to find goodness in the most unlikely of situations – from a perverted veterinarian who saves a beloved dog to a lonely arborist who is reminded of a dying man’s humanity. While some of the stories offered a light touch of fantasy or science fiction, all readers can appreciate Horn’s gift for storytelling. While never pedantic, readers are asked to think about the world in a new light – could a homeless woman in a park be someone’s soul mate? Can listening to someone else’s everyday stories help us change the world?
So, do yourself a favor and snap up this snapbook! You won’t be disappointed.
[Disclosure: a free copy of this collection was given to me by the publisher.]
In “Don’t Mind the Vet,” Bettina’s mother convinced her to take the mother’s sick dog to the veterinarian. Before Bettina left, though, her mother gave her a strange and incomprehensible warning. What I liked the most about the plot was how long it waited before offering any kind of explanation about what was going on to the audience. That delay made me curious to know what would happen at the vet’s office and why the mother said what she did. It was a lot of fun to come up with possible answers while I was reading.
There were several stories in this collection that needed more development. Their concepts were fantastic, but I struggled to figure out what they were trying to say to the audience because they were so short and mysterious. “So Many Shoes” was a good example of this. The narrator had been working on a complicated and longterm shoe project for reasons that weren’t revealed right way to the audience. While I was fascinated by the idea of anyone paying that much attention to shoes, it would have been helpful to have more information about the narrator’s backstory and why they picked this particular project. The hints that were provided were so subtle that I wasn’t always sure if I was understanding them the way the author wanted me to.
Jeff D. Karnes had been waiting for ages for his better half to show up in the afterlife in “Soul Mate.” What I found most interesting about this tale was how Jeff reacted to his previous lifetime. It wasn’t at all the reaction I was expecting him to have, but it did show me many sides of his personality that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. This could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel, although it worked really well in the short story form.
I’d recommend Beyond the Fence: A Short Collection of Stories to anyone who enjoys flash fiction.
originally posted at long and short reviews