Short Thoughts on Short Fiction: Court Merrigan, Chris Rhatigan, Matthew C. Funk

November 21, 2011
By

Lek, by Court Merrigan

Over at Specter, Court Merrigan has a refreshing and unique tale of lives that drift and fall. I’m always on the look for Court’s stories as he tends to be a little more experimental and genre-bending than most. Here, he tells a story of a foreign life, both in setting and condition. There are two stories that tell of different traps that desperate lives can take.

The narrator reveals to us a life at a bar, where men comment on her beauty, pay for extra time and attention, and promise to take her away. It never happens. She knows, but she plays the game. Never really imagining that anything else exists. An “movie” maker comes around and gives her some work. While more money, it’s more of the same. Leading nowhere, taking its toll, leaving her where she’s always been.

She also tells us of Lek, her roommate. She has chose cards and drugs. The bar, the “movies” mean nothing to Lek. She is troubled, devolves, attacks those who bother to care for her. Her life is less than stagnant, it is hurtling toward destruction. The story ends with some resolution on our narrators part, but there’s no sense that it will lead to a more positive life.

The story is a hit to the gut, but it feels real. It’s also beautifully written and worth your time.

In the Hard Nowhere by Chris Rhatigan

Beat to a Pulp’s Weekly Punch is a reliable source of good fiction. This week, Chris Rhatigan pens a tale of an uncommitted thief. He’s not so much a criminal as an unimaginative man who needs money. He take some stuff that’s at hand, and tries his hand at some more violent crime, but even than seems like an afterthought. The results of not knowing what to do without a job.

He’s not a completely reprehensible person, but there’s nothing to root for either. After reading, I was left with the notion that I didn’t particularly care if something bad happened to him, but his humanity and frailty make him worth the time. That’s a difficult character to create, but Chris does it well here.

There are also a pair of Matthew C Funk tales out there.

The Town They Earned by Matthew C. Funk

Matthew kicks off the flash fiction feature at Grift Magazine. The story is one of revolution, not upheaval but cycling. Young men grow in with violence while surviving the drugs, crime and pain that they call home. Threats that require flight, turn to challenges to be met, turn to beatings to endure, turn to lessons learned, turn to lessons taught to others. Matthew has a knack for creating this hopeless victory. Survival that feels more like lingering death. A personal triumph over environment that creates an expansion of that environment, damning society.

A Little Miracle by Matthew C. Funk

Over at Shotgun Honey, Matthew gives us more Jari Jurgis. This one is a tale of lost dreams. Of dashed hopes. Of promise that can’t overcome the environment. There are words of continued hope and acceptance, but they ring hallow amid the setting of rapes, damaged children, random killings and wasted lives. Desire is a rough place, and the stories Matthew pulls from the setting often are emotional hits. This is a deeper impact than most.

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R Thomas Brown

R. Thomas Brown is the Flash Fiction Editor at Spinetingler and writes the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction series. His writing appears around the web and links can be found at his website. "Hill Country" will be coming out in 2012 from Snubnose Press. When not writing or reading, he is a clueless husband and father of three inspiring and exhausting children.

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2 Responses to Short Thoughts on Short Fiction: Court Merrigan, Chris Rhatigan, Matthew C. Funk

  1. Chris Rhatigan on November 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks, Ron. Glad you enjoyed that unusual character.

    I think Matt Funk should release a collection of stories titled “Hopeless Victory.”

  2. Brian Lindenmuth on November 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I think Matt Funk should release a collection of stories

    AGREED!