June 19, 2015

Book Review: The Angel Esmeralda (Part 1 of 2)

Book Review: The Angel Esmeralda (Part 1 of 2)

The Angel Esmeralda spans 30-plus years of writing from Don DeLillo over nine short stories. In typical DeLillo form, The Angel Esmeralda harnesses the fundamental humanity of his characters – whether the situation is monotonous everyday life or spectacularly distant moments in time and space – to create a vivid patchwork of submission, heartache and paranoia. These are not feel-good stories, but cautionary tales told by a writer with the gift of seeing the world as it really is and who is deeply disturbed by these visions. The collection begins, fittingly, with “Creation,” a story about those dark endeavors that occur when love has left a relationship. The narrator and his wife, Jill, are on vacation on a tiny Caribbean island near St. Vincent. We instantly see that things are not right because even though…

Continue reading →

June 9, 2015

Opening Night: Ojos de Tango

I walk up and down Harrison Avenue, looking for number 450. Google maps is no help. Art galleries are scattered about this tiny section of the south end between the residential neighborhoods and the Mass Pike. Eventually, I notice throngs of people coming and going from a pedestrian walkway between two buildings. This is in fact Thayer Street, the heart of the SoWa art district of Boston. As I make my way through the wonderland of galleries, each one filled with the liveliness that a warm June Friday night in the city elicits, I am swept up in the enthusiasm and passion of the surrounding creative endeavors. I come up to a rust-colored sheet metal sign hanging above a small gallery. It reads Movimiento. I’m here. Inside, the space is industrial with a brick ceiling,…

Continue reading →

June 1, 2015

“Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals” by Peggy McAloon

Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from the young-adult novel Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals, by Peggy McAloon, published by Wheatmark.   Elle Burton stopped at Lake Menomin on her way to school. It was her birthday. A sudden splash shattered her reflection in the water. Her hands flew out to protect her face from whatever exploded upward and she felt . . . something. A butterfly’s wings? She cupped her hands together, lacing her fingers tightly. “Let me go!” Elle’s dark eyes widened in amazement, but she didn’t loosen her grip. “Let me go! I have to be there when he’s born.” “What are you talking about?” Elle whispered, afraid she might break the spell. “I can’t talk to you . . . it’s against the rules.” The creature was now trembling in…

Continue reading →

May 28, 2015

Official Relaunch of The Fictional Café

Official Relaunch of The Fictional Café

On Monday, June 1st, The Fictional Café will be cutting its virtual ribbon to celebrate the relaunch of our site. We welcome you to stop by and celebrate with us! We will be posting our monthly submissions again in the Member Writing & Art section, as well as blogs in the News, Reviews and Interviews section from each of us baristas commenting on the writing and art world. Poke around and see what we’ve changed, or if you’re new, explore the wonderful creativity contributed by writers and artists from all over the world. Be sure to check out The Fictional Café on Facebook and Twitter to access exclusive content. Stop by Monday, June 1st, and share a cuppa creativity with us! We’d love you to write a comment or two on what you see.  

Continue reading →

May 22, 2015

The War on Spelling and Grammar is Never Over

The War on Spelling and Grammar is Never Over

We here at The Fictional Café tend to notice when a comma is used when a semicolon is necessary and when a person decides to lay down instead of lie down. Sometimes it makes us pull our hair out, but other times it elicits a hearty chuckle from us. Fortunately for you and me, the omnipresent eye of the internet notices too. Here are two of my favorite sites for fail-induced guffaws. Oh, and I had to include one great blog for accurate, easy to understand grammar and spelling tips. You know, to balance out the facepalminess. http://www.unnecessaryquotes.com/ http://www.lowercasel.com/ http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl  

Continue reading →

March 1, 2015

Writer’s Block? Take a Nap.

Lately, I’ve been hit hard by the busyness bug. In today’s society it’s hard to avoid. But it had gotten so bad for me that I’d started nodding off in the middle of lunch or while reading (War and Peace has been known to have that effect). At first I was annoyed that my body couldn’t keep up. However, I began to embrace the idea that maybe these naps were a good thing. The other day I had just woken up from a long winter’s nap and was greeted with the most pleasant surprise: having a song stuck in my head. But it wasn’t any song I’d heard before; it was one I’d just written during my nap. I scrambled to my computer to clickety-clack my verses down, shining with the glow that only a…

Continue reading →

January 21, 2015

Welcome Back and a Special Request

Hello everyone, we apologize for the lapse in updates as we continue working on our new site design. We are very excited for the changes in store for the website and for Fictional Cafe this year and promise it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, we welcome you to tell us which of our member contributions from 2014 was your favorite. Please write your choice in the comments section below.   “The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace  

Continue reading →

December 10, 2014

Make Words, Not War

Make Words, Not War

I recently attended a workshop at Lesley University, run by Sarina Furer who teaches children in Israel how to write poetry to process their trauma. Her students are in a constant state of alertness, living in a war zone with regular shellings. Even in the classroom, there is no safety; when a signal comes on, they have 90 seconds to get to a safe shelter before a ballistic strikes. War breeds isolation and loneliness, so she tells her students to shift their attention to “small, quiet moments of beauty” to create a calming of the psyche. Writing and sharing their poems is a powerful experience for her students, letting them exclaim “war has not completely overtaken my life.” As I listened to her speak, I thought of a song by the Decemberists, “After the Bombs,”…

Continue reading →

November 3, 2014

Early Twain by Michael Mavilia

Early Twain by Michael Mavilia

  Buried beneath alternate praise and censure of his “Great American Novel,” Huckleberry Finn, lies a wealth of widely unheralded work by Mark Twain: his short stories. Twain’s penchant for writing in the vernacular translates magnificently to his tall tales, overheard while mining for silver in Nevada. His characters run the gamut from rugged and folksy to clever and charismatic, creating a circus troupe of dusty allure. In his 1880 short story “Jim Baker’s Blue-jay Yarn,” Twain retells a tale about “a middle-aged, simple-hearted miner who lived in a lonely corner of California,” who claims he can understand the language of animals. What follows is a short but tall tale of what he overhears a blue jay saying one day in the woods. As is the case with many of Twain’s yarns, the joy is…

Continue reading →