online magazine for short, good writing

Month: March, 2013

This Week in Words – Mar 23

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

Acclaimed African writer Chinua Achebe died this week at the age of 82. Check out this interview about his life, education, writing, and love of stories in The Paris Review.

Brought to my attention by one of our esteemed editors Caleb Andrew Ward, there’s this charming (possibly NSFW, depending on where you work) piece about “10 Books that Taught [Joshua Chaplinsky] Everything [He] Know[s] about Sex,” – brackets included so there’s no confusion here about what books taught who now.

More on the VIDA front, Andrew Ervin for The Rumpus engages in some self-reflection as being – in his words – “part of the problem,” specifically about book reviews and books reviewed.

A fun experiment in The Review Review leads to commentary on slush piles and a good laugh to be had at the expense of The New Yorker (always a treat).

This week I’m suggesting you read “6.5” and “Dead of Winter” by Ian Murphy in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place: two stories that will hurt. Because sometimes good literature has nothing to do with sunshine and roses.

Brief Encounter: An Honest Resume

by Treehouse Editors

Next Brief Encounter theme is “An Honest Resume.” As always, Brief Encounters should be no longer than 400 words. BE’s should be labeled as such in a Word .doc to distinguish from general submissions. Feel free to send more than one in the same document. Deadline is April 4th.

Announcing: The First Annual Treehouse Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose!

by Treehouse Editors

Deadline: April 30

To celebrate Treehouse’s first birthday—that’s right: we’re one!—we are holding our first ever contest.

But there will be no money involved in any part of this contest—no submission fee nor prize money.

“Then what’s the point?” you ask.

The point is, how about you shut your mouth and let me finish?

Thank you.

In lieu of prize money, we have assembled possibly the greatest literary grab bag since Flannery O’Connor stuffed a live peacock in a grocery sack with some early drafts of her stories and mailed it to Eudora Welty.

(Editor’s note: We have no evidence that proves this didn’t happen.)

The winning writer will not only be published in Treehouse, but will also receive:

The awesome lit journal package:

  1. A one-year subscription to Barrelhouse
  2. A one-year subscription to Booth
  3. A one-year subscription to Carolina Quarterly
  4. A one-year subscription to Ecotone
  5. Two latest issues from Gigantic
  6. A one-year subscription to Gulf Coast
  7. A one-year subscription to [PANK]
  8. A one-year subscription to REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters

The awesome indie publishing package:

  1. Two new fall titles from the new indie house everyone is buzzing about, A Strange Object—from the makers of American Short Fiction!
  2. Two new titles from Dzanc Books and a six-month subscription to the Dzanc e-book club.
  3. A copy of Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) and a copy of
    First Year [An MLP Anthology] from Mud Luscious Press

The super-happening fashion package: (in the size of your choice—extra small not available; eat something already)

  1. A t-shirt from A Strange Object
  2. A t-shirt from [PANK]

Our favorite non-winning contest entries will also be published in Treehouse. The rules:

  1. We’re interested in prose that does unusual stuff. In the past we’ve published stories in the form of to-do lists, invisible text with footnotes, survival guides, landlord-tenant correspondence, recipes, and also all kinds of inventive work that was linguistically, but not necessarily structurally, experimental. So if you think your story, essay, prose poem, or genrebender fits the bill, send it our way. (Sorry, no poetry with line breaks for this one.)
  2. Entries are to be a maximum of 750 words.
  3. All entries must be emailed to by April 30. Preferred format is .doc, but .docx and .pdf are also acceptable.
  4. Subject line of contest entries must say: CONTEST ENTRY. Otherwise, they will simply be filed as regular submissions and will have zero chance of receiving cool swag.
  5. Your name MUST NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE ON YOUR PIECE. Since we often get writing from people we kind of know, either via real life or the internet, we want to be extra careful that everything is getting read blind. We’re even going to implement our ultra secret “assigning numbers to stories and then not telling anybody what the numbers mean” system.
  6. In the interest of fairness, we can’t accept submission from editors at any of the magazines or publishing houses that are participating. UNCW students may submit work, so long as they’re not currently on staff at Ecotone.
  7. Former Treehouse contributors are invited to submit work.
  8. We also can’t accept submissions from anyone who has gotten past second base with any member of the editorial staff. (In this case, “second base” refers to urban second base; rural second base is okay.) However, if you have gotten past second base with a member of the editorial staff: why don’t you call us already? It’s been more than three days.
  9. One of the main things we’re trying to communicate with this contest is that literature is a community. We picked out the journals and publishing houses we’re most excited about because we wanted to share them with you—our favorite readers. (And pretty much everybody we asked to participate eagerly agreed.) As such, we’ll be featuring a different participating magazine or indie house every week. Please check out their sites and consider subscribing or buying books—not because they’re helping our contest, but because they’re sustaining a thriving literary community that you’re not going to get from mainstream publishing. And because they publish cool shit!
  10. We really believe in doing as much as we can without getting money involved. So even if you can’t afford to subscribe to any of our partners’ publications, consider spreading the word—about the contest and/or about any of the publishers you see that tickle your fancy—via facebook, twitter, or other social media. Or, you know, your mouth.

We’re very excited about this and looking forward to reading your work.

-The Editors

This Week in Words – Mar 16

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

AWP descended on Boston last weekend, and here Steve Almond offers some reflection for both the weary and the wide-eyed.

Coming out on the bright side of the VIDA count, Granta and Tin House tell Flavorwire how they do it. (Hint – it isn’t simply: “Publish more women.”)

A smattering of new words that may not be sweeping the nation (yet!) from Andrew Kaufman and The Guardian.

Jimmy Chen for HTMLGiant tackles James Franco, barely legal bikini-clad felons, and a little bit of art in this piece about upcoming film Spring Breakers.

Check out “How to Throw It All on the Table” by April Sopkin, originally published in Paper Nautilus’s 2011 issue, and now featured on their website.

And for no other reason than I think you should know it exists, I give you this.

5 Methods of Storing Happiness (Just in Case You Run Out and Need it Later)

by a contributor

from Rachel Natale, author of Poetic Material:

  1. Wrap it neatly in smooth brown paper and secure it with twine—the sandalwood scent will linger in your nose. Carry these bundles with you wherever you go, handing them out when they become too light in your backpack and you fear losing touch with the ground.
  2. Gather it up in buckets from the ocean, deep blinking blue in the afternoon. If you cannot carry the weight of it inside, the water will evaporate and leave piles of coarse salt crystals behind.
  3. Plant it in rich soil, almost black, and watch bright blooms appear. Pluck a bouquet and place it on the windowsill. When the flowers begin to wilt, hang them upside down to dry. Each time you look at them, you will see the lingering beauty of things that inevitably end.
  4. Scribble it down wherever you can, then slip it between the pages of books, crumple it up in your pockets, and hide it at the back of your dresser drawers. In the middle of winter, you will rediscover it while rustling through your favorite poems late at night, digging for a pen on the bus, or searching for a missing wool sock. Surprised, you will smile.
  5. Pluck it from the sky, long strands of golden light that fall from the sun and rest on your eyelashes. Bury it deep in your organs, your skin, your bones, pouring molten joy into the hollow curves at the center of you. When you excavate your insides, you will find empty spaces filled in with heat.

Poetic Material

by a contributor

by Rachel Natale

Words dropped on the carpet and stepped on. Gathering dust
words and ring left on the coffee table words. Words that went
through the wash, forgotten in your pocket words. Meant to be
touched words, only read on your tiptoes words.

You scrubbed your face with rosemary scented soap yesterday,
and words slipped down the open drain.
Peach flavored words that leak juice between your fingers.
Words stuck between cracks in the sofa. Lost in translation, that
doesn’t mean the same thing in your language words.

You rubbed your chin and touched my hair but the words you
asked for had fallen over the edge of the balcony.
Words knitted around your neck, where snowflakes caught in

Only heard aloud words, soundless dot words, arranged
on a page in a square words, richer when they roll off my
tongue words. Words made of sand on a wooden board, breath
on a pane of glass words. Crinkle like aluminum foil words.

Last week you brought home a cactus in a pot, and words
pricked the back of your hand when you set it in the sun. Words
left in a suitcase at the train station and on scraps of paper in
a parking lot.

Sea green-grey in the morning words, drops of dew soaking the
grass words. When spring came early, you peeked through the
paper blinds and saw the words crawling out from cramped
dirt spaces that had thawed overnight.

Rachel Natalie dances, writes, and studies at Loyola University Chicago, where she blogs for Arts Alive. She typically carries a handful of starlight peppermints in her coat pocket, and occasionally tweets about her daily experiences, observations, and endeavors as @rachnatale.

See Rachel’s list of 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.

This Week in Words – Mar 9

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

Fun with Charles Bukowski! To be fair, he’s not really there (of course); it’s a reading and a link to more Bukowski-related stuff. He’s recently become a favorite of mine, probably because I can understand his poetry (and also because there’s a dark humor to it). This is my favorite.

And the Pride and Prejudice news just keeps on coming. David O. Russell – the guy responsible for writing the screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook (which is awesome, by the way) – has adapted Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the silver screen. It’s slow going, but with a screenplay and producers on board, it looks like this thing might actually make it.

I discovered this gem of British humor weirdness this week. The name of the endeavor alone – Pink Mist – makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I like it.

And I’m recommending you check out the latest issue from Up the Staircase, which you can do online. Spotlight on “More Cherries” by Bud Smith and “Backseat Blues” by Jules Archer (both fiction).