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Short Stories 365/193 | N.S. Beranek

We are having a connectivity issue. If the format of this is a bit strange it is because I am typing it in via my phone app.

“Hoffman, Godzilla and Me” by Richard Bowes, from Wilde Stories 2012 (Lethe Press). Edited by Steve Berman.

This next piece feels like memoir but by all accounts is a fictionalized version of the past. Whatever the case, it has some very interesting things to say about the art of writing fiction.

The narrator relates being approached by an anthology editor at a speculative fiction conference and asked to write a piece for the upcoming volume. To be polite he says he will consider it, then promptly forgets all about the conversation until the end of the weekend. When the younger man corners him again he agrees to contribute, then prays that when the time comes nothing will be needed from him. He has absolutely no idea what he would write for it because he has a phobia about New York-based tales. He loves them, but always fears the one he’s just finished will be his last. He worries that writing about a Godzilla-style destruction of the place will ensure that it is the final one.

It’s not until some months later when he receives an email reminder from the editor that he really begins to think about what to write, and then he comes up blank. All of his ideas seem trite or inane. Meanwhile, we are told some key details about his past and the ability he has to mentally retreat from an unpleasant situation. He ponders what it is that constitutes a tragedy. When he runs into a character from his past the reader becomes aware that various, seemingly unrelated threads introduced along the way have all just been brought together into what, essentially, could be a first person, literary entry to a collection entitled Godzilla Does Manhattan. It’s very nicely done.