Stories for Sunday: Rawson, Hinkson, and Brazill

Taking a nap after work on Saturday night is definitely not a good idea – nearly 5AM and I’m wide awake. Good thing the internet is abuzz with some crazy stories, and now I finally have the time to catch up with them. This week’s edition of Stories for Sunday is bigger than normal – three stories coming your way, two hot off the press and one classic.

First thing is first. Keith Rawson’s “Marmalade” over at Beat to a Pulp. I don’t know what sort of deranged rays are in that Arizona sun, but lets hope Keith keeps getting more of them. This might be his best yet – the story of the recently paroled Tom Shepard, who has exchanged life behind bars to life with his vegetable father and nagging mother and picking up dog shit off the front lawn. Life sucks just a little less than before, which should be an improvement. But then Tom starts hearing voices from his supposedly catatonic pops – and that’s where I'll stop the synopsis. Rawson takes the story in some wild and unexpected directions, reigning it all in for a gonzo finale that would do any of Jim Thompson’s warped protagonists proud. Seriously dark and funny as hell – a must read.

“He finally flashed on the face of the girl gritting her teeth, tears and terror sweat streaking her mascara, smudging her makeup. His stomach lurched into his throat; yellow bile burning his nostrils and mouth with memory.”

Read Keith Rawson’s “Marmalade” here at Beat to a Pulp.

Speaking of Beat to a Pulp – as if we needed one more reason to love that site, here’s a gut-punch from their archives, Jake Hinkson’s “Maker’s and Coke.” Officer Lowell has come to an unpleasant realization “This life is a faithless whore.” Unable to get Ellie off his mind, he buys a bottle of Maker’s Mark and Coke and locks it in his trunk before going on duty. But the thoughts of her just won’t go away, so he has a drink, which leads to two, and before he’s knows it he’s lost count. And things only get worse when he stumbles upon a robbery-in-progress. Hinkson writes about cinema and film noir over at his site The Night Editor, and you can get a sense of that cinematic sensibility in this story. The whole thing unfolds like some devastating finale, filmed in the bleakest black-and-white hues possible.

“Once I thought about it, I realized no one else loved me, either. I sat there and considered it. There was no one left on this earth who loved me. That wasn't self-pity; it was math.”

Read Jake Hinkson’s “Maker’s and Coke” here at Beat to a Pulp.

Topping off this triple bill is the latest from Paul D. Brazill “A Cold Day In Hell,” published over at Blink Ink. Brazill edits like no one else around, refining and condensing stories to their bare essentials. Embracing brevity, his stories are highly evocative, suggesting images and scenes that go beyond the bounds of the words on the page. Just take a look at the fifty words that comprise “A Cold Day in Hell” and you’ll see what I mean.

“The January night had long since waned when Nathan blasted Oliver’s brains over the snow covered street…”

Read Paul D. Brazill’s “A Cold Day in Hell” here at Blink Ink.


  1. Thanks for the links. I'm not going to have much time to read today. The past few days and next few are pretty much spoken for. I like a nap myself, although I don't take long ones. They don't mess me up for sleeping at night then.

    I don't know why this happens but I never manage to get a post up here the first time I try. Working on the third attempt now.

  2. Started reading Marmalade last night, but wanted to check out what you had to say about it. I think Keith probably has a big shit eating grin on his face right now from that Thompson comparison. I read Paul's story the other day, so you were spot on about his brevity and editing prowess. And Jake, what can I say, this guy is definitely deserving of the spotlight, so I'm glad you brought up his story, Makers and Coke. If it's anything like Keep it Stupid, Simple over at Flash Fiction Offensive, even if it's an archived story, it's worth the time reading. As always Cullen, great reviews. These guys are good, and they're only going to continue getting better.

  3. What a great way to give people another chance to look at these stories!


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