Author Archives: Kelsey Maki

About Kelsey Maki

writer and English professor

“Rib Night” by Will Mackin c. 2018 (pages 88-98 in The Atlantic)

A short story in which soldiers navigate surreal realities—killing people then coming back to base to have birthday cake. Mackin, the author, deftly weaves the mythic dreams of the narrator into the mundane and sometimes murderous realities of a combat … Continue reading

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The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel c. 2018 (354 pages—Algonquin)

Warning: This summary contains spoilers. The Optimistic Decade is set in the Bush Sr. era, with some flashbacks to the Reagan years. The main characters are teenagers and young adults, all of whom are engaged in a timeless rite of … Continue reading

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“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Anthony Wallace c. 2018 (pages 39-47 in The Pushcart Prize XLII–originally published in the Southern Review)

A short story set in a restaurant and centered on a couple who appears to have a baby with them. The mother, who attracts attention for being both beautiful and demanding, serves as the center of a story that explores … Continue reading

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Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport c. 1994 (480 pages—Penguin)

A sweeping tale that spans generations and blurs the lines between people. This complex story swirls around Pono, an ailing grandmother who has hidden her husband and true love (Duke, a regal Hawai’ian who contracted leprosy) from her daughters and … Continue reading

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“Silent is Help” by Elena Georgiou c. 2018 (pages 67 – 96 in The Immigrants Refrigerator)

This story shows the relationship between two guarded people: a reclusive American man and a woman from Nicaragua, both of whom agree to not get too close, as previous traumas have made it difficult to openly share. Motifs of excess … Continue reading

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“Gazpacho” by Elena Georgiou c. 2018 (pages 3 – 6 in The Immigrants Refrigerator)

Flash fiction in which a Mexican man grieves the death of children by caring for kids who may suffer a similar fate. This story illustrates the importance of small acts of kindness in a cruel and violent world. Sentences Worth … Continue reading

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“Bajadas” by Francisco Cantu c. 2018 (pages 50-62 in The Pushcart Prize XLII–originally published in Ploughshares)

A gut-wrenching short story about immigration told from the perspective of a border agent. Sentences Worth Studying “Then, wrapped in blankets, we laughed and drank eggnog and brandy until the conversation deteriorated into discussion of my impending work. / Look, … Continue reading

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