First of all, this is housed at that literary journal’s website that goes all out with their story art. And, on one hand, you have to appreciate how much effort they put in everything they publish. On the other, I wonder if words should exist on their own? Maybe they don’t need drawings, like in a children’s book?
Anyway, this particular story starts off nicely. Although using the word “hipster,” here in the first paragraph, is off-putting. I know it’s part of our lexicon, but it’s overused, so we should leave it alone. As well, the indictment made while using that word very clearly comes from the author’s real life but doesn’t point any fingers at the author. So as a reader I’m left to wonder, because this first paragraph is real to life, is not the author also the worst kind of hipster? Is he or she not also more likely to write a story about a boy – or a girl – who would write a story about swinging a axe?
From the second paragraph, I’d cut a few words. But I like how it ends, with the ex telling the author – the main character – how tired he is. I like that, when fictional characters express how tired they are. It’s good in Llewyn Davis and Richard Yates novels and it’s good here.
The next paragraph is interesting. The name of the restaurant used to locate where the character is in the city has a nice science-fictiony outer space flavor to it. But then in the next sentence there’s a jocular reference to a real bridge that collapsed and killed people. So, you know, could’ve been more tactfully done.
After that, the next paragraph is solid. I mean, legit good. I once went to a reading where the author read and I told him/her that what they’d read was “really good” but I didn’t really mean that because it was in person and what else can you say? But this is good. I felt for the author, or, if you will, the character.
The anal probe part was funny. Hard to do an original anal-probing joke, but it’s pulled off nicely here.
Next pargraph has the line “surprisingly unsurprised” and I guess I’m surprised no one at the website where this was published edited that. They should’ve gone with “unsurprised” to show the ex’s ambivalence. Something like, “You were unsurprised, which is so like you, to not care about the end of the world.”
The next few paragraphs would’ve been better if whittled down to one strong paragraph. Pick up with the part where the main character texts friends and family. That section has a good dichotomy of aloofness against the wild unheard-of thing that’s happening.
Side note, I understand this story is about a breakup wrapped in an absurdity. And personally, I believe, stories that don’t use such a device are often less truthful to real events, only the realist ones get punished more often for being memoirs because they don’t have spaceships in them. Still, the author does this motif well, and one shouldn’t be punished for doing something well.
After the texting bit there’s the conversation between the main character and the ex character where they try to figure out how to get the main character out of the tractor beam. I liked that back and forth, nice details and good organic conversation, but the use of “fucking.” I understand in the heat of the moment expletives would be used, but expletives in fiction are like describing sex or using exclamation marks in fiction. Like the f-bomb, use sparingly to never
The line about Falcor is good.
More mentions of the ex’s hair, which is getting distracting. As a reader, it’d be preferable to think the ex was obsessed with his/her own hair but it comes off as if the writer is obsessed with their real life ex’s hair.
The next thing, the dialogue where the main character explains how it’s okay, he/she is being taken up in a spaceship. That’s really good. It feels true, but only because s/he wants others to believe it is.
Then the next line of dialogue, that’s even better, the part with the bit about deleting the internet history hits the funny/sad sweet spot just right.
As for the ending. I’d guess the author added the part after the last comma to provide comic relief, but using a more melancholy ending would’ve been better. Just cutting these last ten words would’ve added a significant emotional heft to the story.
Overall, though, well-done.