"The Legend of Boitown" (under one of the many titles it's had over the years, but I can't recall which) was originally presented to Donlu Thayer as part of the portfolio for a class I was taken from her. Her note at the end was something like, "Wow! Why didn't we read this in class?" Which I interpreted to mean it was pretty good.
And it is pretty good, actually. Not bad at all.
The problem is the way it ends. Which is the whole point of the story but, as it ends up, is a bit of a cliche in literary fiction. Something I did not know in 1998.
In 2002 (this is about thirty months later) I attended Endercon. Thereat, I listened to Michael Collings, then still at Pepperdine, talk about Ender's Game as epic poetry. One of his evidences was that the book's major sections are punctuated with a particular meter.
Immediately, in my head, I reran the final line of "The Legend of Boitown" which obeys the same laws. Which I suppose is why I could remember it.
Anyway, after being rejected by, in reverse order, Cutbank, Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Renovation Journal, Zoetrope, Georgia Review, and Zyzzyva, it's finally been picked up by the lit rag Children, Churches & Daddies. It will show up there soon, but it's now available on their online sister, Scars.tv. You can read that (awkwardly formatted) version now.
It's a great relief, having that story out of the queue.
Let me know what you think.
It is pretty good, but I dislike the ending. Not because it is a bit of a cliche in literary fiction, but because I have an intense dislike for all out-of-the-blue endings that raise a million questions without wrapping anything up from the story itself, leaving the reader perplexed and dissatisfied. I don't mind unhappy endings, or even endings that make me mad, but I just can't bring myself to like endings that leave me asking what on earth just happened and wondering if perhaps I just missed some major tidbit that brings it all together somehow. Maybe I did. Perhaps the whole point is to leave the reader in the same state of mind as the protagonist. But I generally feel I have enough bewilderment in my life already due to the brain cells that I suppose must be hibernating to protect themselves from death via sleep deprivation and the daily clean-up of three to four other people's bodily fluids.ReplyDelete
Personal issues aside, though, I liked it, perhaps a bit more so upon reflection than while reading it.
In the original version, the mayor ignored three threats. And those threats lasted through many, many rewrites. They finally died though under pressure from almost everyone who read it. But I'm glad to have my original instinct confirmed even if, perhaps, the story is "better" without the threats.