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Announcing the Vol. 6 authors

The Conium Review: Vol. 6 comes out in December, 2017. We’ve finalized the table of contents, and we’re pleased to introduce the authors and stories slated for this issue:

  • “Ramune,” by Tamara K. Walker
  • “Holy Water,” by Jay Vera Summer
  • “Something Like Feeling,” by Matt Kirkpatrick
  • “A Hunger,” by Rebekah Bergman
  • “I Am Me,” by Kevin Finucane (winner of the 2017 Innovative Short Fiction Contest)
  • “Time Travel for Beginners,” by Stephanie Wang
  • “Maurice,” by Simone Person
  • “Naming Maura Maura,” by Rachel Lyon
  • “Extraterrestrial Science,” by J. L. Montavon

ABOUT THE CONIUM REVIEW: VOL. 6 AUTHORS

Tamara K. Walker resides in Colorado and writes short fiction and poetry, often of a surreal, irreal, magical realist, experimental, speculative or otherwise unusual nature. Her fiction has previously appeared in The Cafe Irreal, A cappella Zoo, Melusine, Peculiar Mormyrid, ink&coda, Three Minute Plastic, and others. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Star*Line, Lavender Review, Scifaikuest, and indefinite space, among others. Her short story, “Camisole”, which appeared in The Conium Review: Vol. 4, was a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee. She may be found online at http://tamarakwalker.weebly.com

Jay Vera Summer is a Chicagoan living in Florida. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction, and co-founded weirderary, an online literary magazine, and First Draft, a monthly live literary event in Tampa. Her writing has been published in marieclaire.com, Proximity, LimeHawk, theEEEL, and Chicago Literati.

Matthew Kirkpatrick is the author of Diary of a Pennsylvania Farmer (Throwback Books, forthcoming), The Exiles (Ricochet Editions), and Light Without Heat (FC2). His fiction and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Common, Puerto del Sol, Denver Quarterly, Believer Logger, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. His audio collage and hypertext, “The Silent Numbers” is anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3, and was part of the “Shapeshifting Texts” exhibit at the University of Bremen. He is an assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches fiction and new media writing.

Rebekah Bergman’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Hobart, Joyland, Passages North, Poor Claudia, Two Serious Ladies, and The Nashville Review, among other journals. She holds an MFA from The New School and is a contributing editor of NOON.

Kevin Finucane was awarded a bronze Solas Award by Travelers’ Tales in creative nonfiction in 2009 and was named a Finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition in the novella category for 2010.

Stephanie Wang is a Beijing-born Australian writer currently living in Melbourne. She can travel in time, but only in one direction. She is currently working on a novel.

Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a dual MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse and Puerto del Sol, among others, and has been anthologized in Crab Fat Magazine: Best of Year Three. Her chapbook is a semifinalist selection for Honeysuckle Press’s 2017 Chapbook Contest. She occasionally uses Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.

Rachel Lyon‘s debut novel Self-Portrait with Boy is forthcoming from Scribner in February 2018. Her short work has appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, McSweeney’s, and other publications. Rachel teaches for Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, and elsewhere and is a cofounder of the reading series Ditmas Lit in her native Brooklyn. Visit her at www.rachellyon.work.

J. L. Montavon was born and raised in Denver and lives in San Francisco. Her story “Recursions” was chosen by Joan Wickersham as the winner of the 2016 Salamander Fiction Prize.

“Split-Level,” by Tessa Yang

Staircase Sketch (pylypchuk25)

The house was a three-bedroom with a square backyard, one short flight of stairs descending to the basement and a second leading to the upper floor. The living room was drafty, so she caulked along the window frames. The garage had mice, so he bought traps—the ones with the sticky paper that resulted in a slower death for the struggling rodents, but which spared him the sight of any blood. They performed these tasks with cheerful efficiency. They were goal-oriented people. “Thing-doers,” she liked to say at those first, early parties where they were the only married couple, where they spoke in triumphant first-person plurals about their home improvement projects. They were people who got things done.

He was the first one to notice the extra step, stumbling over it on his way to the kitchen one morning. His feet recognized it before his brain. He had to go back and count: four, five, six. He wondered if he was losing his mind. The past month had been stressful. Their sickly newborn had spent the first week of its life inside a lighted box at the hospital like a rare museum artifact. Then it came home, it became a he, a living creature to dote on and fret over and sometimes secretly despise as they rushed to and from his crib, dead-eyed with exhaustion.

But the staircase to the second floor continued to grow. Up to eleven steps by the time his mother visited and informed them that they did not have the baby on a schedule—the baby had them on a schedule. She didn’t mention the elongated staircase, though his wife had embraced the anomaly with enthusiasm, marching up and down the steps with a five-pound weight in either hand, determined to return to pre-baby shape in record time.

Over the years they called in experts. Carpenters, architects, structural engineers. A clairvoyant wanted to feature them on her TV show, certain they were hosting a spirit who reached out with ghostly fingers to manipulate the steps.

They stopped having friends over. It was embarrassing, trying to explain. They wanted to sell the place, but who on earth would take a house with 43 stairs? The people at her office complained when the elevator shut down, and that was only two flights.

They resolved to ignore it. It was the same strategy they offered their son when his little sister parroted his phrases. Just ignore her. She’ll get bored and go away. For a while it worked. The stairs seemed to max out. She returned to school, working toward her MBA on the company’s dime. He went part-time and learned to cook like Ina Garten—gazpacho and shrimp scampi, coconut cake on gleaming metal stands. Weekends, they rented movies, avoiding Netflix because they distrusted this growing culture of instant gratification, but also because they liked the sight of their children galloping pink-cheeked between the racks of DVDs.

Then his father died. It took something out of him. He became fussy and fearful. He obsessed over their children’s diets. On evenings she had class, she worried he wasn’t feeding them enough. She took to sneaking junk food into their backpacks. Her daughter gobbled these treats on the bus ride home each day, tonguing the traitorous cheese dust from beneath her fingernails. The packages in her son’s bag always returned unopened, yet in an act of some great cosmic injustice, he remained overweight.

The staircase began to grow again. Three, sometimes four steps a night. It curled in tight spirals. He thought of a nautilus; she, the twisted ladders of DNA. Their daughter was fond of the stairs. She had a name for each one. They could hear her greeting them as she ascended to her bedroom—“Hi Mitsy, hi Scooter, hi Phil—” her voice fading into the heights, then silenced. For their son, the stairs were the torment of gym class all over again. He begged to sleep in the first-floor study. His father worried about all the things a boy could get into. His wife told him to stop hovering and hired a team of baffled movers to maneuver her son’s bed down the 97 steps.

In the past year, she’d begun sleeping with the woman who delivered the mail. “For the free stamps,” she told her husband when asked why she’d done it. She had expected the telling to ignite something between them. Instead it only sat there like a sidestepped piece of roadkill, awaiting pick-up from the people who were paid to do that sort of thing.

They were forced to take rest stops on the journey to the second floor. Their bodies had started to protest the climb: her hips, his feet. At the midpoint, they could hear neither the stutter of video game gunfire from their son’s first-floor bedroom, nor the shrieked Japanese of their daughter’s Anime shows upstairs. There was only the house—an orchestra of shudders—and their own frail voices as they pitched ideas, the same ones every night.

They could install an elevator.

They could move, permanently, downstairs.

They could take the financial blow and abandon the house.

But by the time they reached the second floor, aching and sweaty, it was all they could do to collapse into bed.

Lighting bolts cut through his dreams. She saw an endless snake of roller coaster tracks, writhing through a fiery sky. When the scene morphed and they found themselves teetering at the top of the stairs, it was not always clear whether they were dreaming or not—for if it was a dream, it was so lifelike that when she sprang over the railings and began to free fall, when he dove headfirst from the topmost step, there was the perfect crystallized panic, followed by the gut-swooping relief, of having relinquished oneself to an irrevocable mistake.

About the Author:

Tessa Yang is an MFA candidate at Indiana University where she serves as the Associate Editor of Indiana Review. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Clockhouse, The Writing Disorder, and Lunch Ticket. Her short story “Runners” was a finalist for The Cossack Review’s October Prize and will appear in Issue 7. When not reading and writing, Tessa enjoys playing Frisbee and counting down the remaining days until next year’s Shark Week. Follow her on Twitter: @ThePtessadactyl.

Special Note:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2016 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Leesa Cross-Smith.

Image Credit: © pylypchuk25 – stock.adobe.com

Emily Koon wins the Conium Press Book & Chapbook Contest!

Matt Bell has selected Emily Koon‘s We Are Still Here as the 2016 Conium Press Book & Chapbook Contest winner!

Emily Koon headshotYes, Emily Koon. The same Emily Koon who won our Innovative Short Fiction Contest in 2015, judged by Amelia Gray. As always, the judging process was 100% blind, and Matt Bell was instructed to recuse himself if he could identify the author. We’re surprised that her work anonymously bubbled to the top twice — but then again, not too surprised — she’s just a damn good writer.

The stories in We Are Still Here are an eclectic mix including fairy tales, ghosts, Lizzie Borden, and people living in a Sears. In the title story, a family visiting an amusement park flees after a fatal roller coaster accident, only to find the real horror is on the chairlifts. In “The People Who Live in the Sears,” a group of people who find the real world too painful to function in make new lives in their local Sears department store. In “The Ghosts of St. Louis,” two teenagers living in a futuristic North America attempt to make sense of a world marred by climate change. Characters in these stories wrestle with questions of death, loneliness, abandonment, and their capacity to love, be loved, and inflict pain on others.

Emily Koon is a fiction writer from North Carolina. She has work in Potomac Review, The Rumpus, The Conium Review, Portland Review, and other places. She can be found at twitter.com/thebookdress.

Emily’s manuscript will be published by Conium Press, and she will receive $1,000, ten author copies, and a copy of the judge’s latest book.

This year’s finalists are Tori BondSamantha Duncan, Claire Hopple, and Rachel Luria.

We’re grateful to all the authors who submitted, and we hope you’ll join us in congratulating Emily, singing her praise on social media, and buying/reading her kickass book when it hits shelves. We expect to release Emily’s collection in late 2017 or early 2018.

Vol. 5 Collector’s Edition Box Set Preview

The Conium Review: Vol. 5 paperback edition officially launched on December 15th. The Vol. 5 collector’s edition is slated for December 30th.

Like the Vol. 3 collector’s edition and the Vol. 4 collector’s edition, we’re loading up a wooden box with individual handmade objects. Each story will be represented as its own micro-chapbook.

This year’s box will actually be more box-ish than previous years (rather than resembling a wooden book). It’s roughly a 3.5-inch cube (not quite a cube — one side is around 4 inches — but close enough). It’s fitted with a metal latch and hinges. This box will be hand-stamped with the title, ISBN, and price.

Over the next few days, will show other pieces of the collector’s edition, leading up to its reveal and sale on December 30th. Stay tuned!