Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts


Ruby Thursday

by Richard Adams Carey

David laughed, leaning back in his chair and jabbing at his mouth with his napkin. “Okay, I think I know what this marriage stuff is about.”

Orrie’s head snapped towards her father. “What are you talking about?”

Cheryl laughed too. “Oh, Lordy, I’d forgotten.”

“What? What are you guys talking about?”

“You don’t remember?” Cheryl said. “You always used to say—well, you said it for years when you were little—that the very minute you were old enough you were going to marry Gus. You don’t remember that? It didn’t bother you at all that he already had Marcie.”

Not Knowing

by Stacy Patton
The boys passed behind her, and one of them whistled low. She pretended not to hear. She knew who he was whistling at, but she was alone, and they were boys, more than two. She tried to be flattered instead of afraid. She’d worn a new athletic skirt with quick-dry fabric and shorts underneath, and the summer heat rose from the asphalt, warming her legs, strong and tan from daily runs. The boys were laughing, the doors on their pickup thudding shut as she passed through the gate, remembering days when rowdy boys whistled more often—days when she might have gone swimming all afternoon with boys like that, instead of stealing a quick run before spaghetti night with her husband and two kids.

Vishnu Floating on the Cosmic Ocean

by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
Visit with Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
The camp store is guarded by two wild parrots that squawk and drop fruit pits on you from their perch in the wisteria that climbs over the door. Inside, the store’s no bigger than your bedroom at home, but it’s ringed with shelves offering all manner of strange and fantastic rations you’ve never encountered anywhere else—there’s practical stuff like shark repellants and cords of wood bound up with twine, but also pocket-sized kites and off-kilter yo-yos, six packs of grape juice in glass bottles shaped like rocket ships, compasses whose needles twirl as if eternally caught in magnetic storms.

Last Dog

by Claire Burgess
Visit with Claire Burgess

Joel was worried about the dead dog in his trunk. Heat rose off the road in front of him, rippling the air like a photograph warping over a flame—he was beginning to regret his decision to pack the ice inside the trash bag with the dog. In this heat, he knew, the ice would be melting, soaking the fur, and if there’s a smell worse than dead dog, it’s wet dead dog. What he should have done was put the dog inside its own bag, put that bag inside another bag filled with ice, and then put that bag in the suitcase…

Night of the Spiders

by Sheldon Bellegarde
Visit with Sheldon Bellegarde

It’s almost midnight but I have got to clean out my bedroom closet. It’s packed with junk and has, like, the most vicious spider problem this side of a radioactive-arachno movie. I’m delving into terror. At least I don’t have a big shoe collection, since spiders like to hide in shoes. For a girl who’s supposed to be at her most fashion-conscious age, style is not my middle name…

On Revision: Pulling Up Widows

A Craft Short
by Pam Houston
One of my primary goals in writing Contents May Have Shifted was to make a book in which each of my sentences worked harder than they ever had before…. I still believe the poets are the real wizards, all that humanness crammed into just a few perfect lines.

What advice would you give to someone about to write a novel?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by Dorothy Allison, Charles Baxter, Connie May Fowler, Thomas Christopher Greene, Pam Houston, Dani Shapiro
Patience. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a relationship you enter. And, just as in a relationship, the dailyness, the showing up, the steady rhythm, the paying of attention are qualities to cultivate.

Corn Maze

A Craft Essay
by Pam Houston
When it was decided (When was that again, and by whom?) that we were all supposed to choose between fiction and nonfiction, what was not taken into account was that for some of us truth can never be an absolute, that there can (at best) be only less true and more true and sometimes those two collapse inside each other….

The Speed of Sound

by Elizabeth Gonzalez
Winner of the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
Visit with Elizabeth Gonzalez

A new moon and a clear, cold Michigan night, the sky dead black and loaded with stars, so clear you could see the tendrils in the Milky Way dust—things were aligning, and Arthur Reel was prepared. He called the two neighbors across the road, who were kind enough to turn off their automatic lights whenever Arthur said he would be skywatching. Three a.m. found him perched in his rooftop observatory, sitting in his padded folding chair next to a telescope that was almost as big around as a basketball, waiting. He was there to watch Leo rise…

The Ghosts of Takahiro Ōkyo

by Donald Quist
Runner-up in the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
Visit with Donald Quist

Daisuke would find them in varying levels of decomposition, bleeding out into the snow or scattered over hiking trails, half eaten. Most would be hanging from the trees, the trunks so close and tight that in the perpetual twilight of Mount Fuji’s shadow their limbs looked like strange branches sprouting from the shaggy moss. They were businessmen or star-crossed lovers, victims of incest and criminals. They came from all over.

Rumor Has it in Winthrop

Winner of the Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers in Fiction
by Lin King

It is generally agreed amongst the townspeople that this whole sorry incident has been the most tragic and romantic “love story” Winthrop has ever witnessed…

On Characters: FATE

A Craft Short
by Bruce Machart
I remember the steam on the windows of the classroom, the snow swirling itself dizzy outside. I remember Lee’s burr-cut hair and the vein above his temple that announced his level of concentration.

Idiosyncratic Tone in the Novel

A Craft Essay
by Wendy Voorsanger
Visit with Wendy Voorsanger
Tone is the emotional color or musical pitch of a novel. It’s typically a feeling or atmosphere a writer establishes and maintains through an entire piece of writing. It’s not what is being said or done—it’s how it’s said or done.

On Rhythm: In Sentences

A Craft Short
by Annie Penfield
I ride horses, always have. Everything I know about how to raise children, or survive school, comes from my life with horses. So it was only natural I would turn to horses to teach me about writing.

Dentist of the Wild West

by Deborah Vlock
Visit with Deborah Vlock
For a dentist he’s fairly good looking, but not in a way that makes you feel insignificant. Linda is his lax assistant—she doesn’t even consider using Mr. Thirsty until I’m drooling onto my pink paper bib—and I think she’s his girlfriend, too. What with the square dancing.

On Syntax: Creating Silence

a Craft Short
by Mary Stein
I have a confession to make. There is a perverse and envious part of me convinced poets are permitted to dip from a well of inspiration while prose writers must crouch, dog-like, to lap at the damp muddy edges of puddles.

The Happy Ending Effect

A Craft Essay
by Heather Sharfeddin
Visit with Heather Sharfeddin

One of the biggest frustrations literary authors face in publishing is the pressure to write happy endings. We consider ourselves artists, but publishing is a business—a money-making, dollars-and-cents business. It is driven by trends in consumer spending, just like any other.

11 Strategies for Ending Works of Fiction: What We Can Learn from Chekhov

A Craft Short
by David Jauss

Here are brief definitions of some of Anton Chekhov’s innovative strategies for ending stories, followed by a list of examples.

Death By Pufferfish

by Mayumi Shimose Poe
Visit with Mayumi Shimose Poe

the writer’s image of her main character

The torafugu was in his mouth. It was slippery-smooth—tsuru-tsuru, Kazuo recalled the term—so fresh it seemed to be swimming around of its own accord, milling about amongst pearly rice grains. Expect a resilient chewiness, he thought as he closed his jaws onto the flesh. Open, close, open. Not exactly slippery—kind of slimy, but the rice was familiarly comforting. The taste will be as subtle as the fragrance of spring rain, as pristine as the water flowing over a river stone flanked by a virgin forest. Close, open, throat tickle. Long pause, but grandfather was looking at him. So, close, open, swallow. The bite of fish was still largely whole when it went down his throat. It stung as it went. Stray rice grains required a second swallow. And even then, the stubborn fish tried to swim back up, like a stupid salmon with the urge to spawn.

Conjuring the Magic of Story:
Aspects of Resonance in Fiction

The author’s grandmother

A Craft Essay
by Stephanie Friedman
Visit with Stephanie Friedman
In my grandmother’s kitchen, a story was a felt experience for both teller and audience, a dynamic swirl of emotions and impulses, some of which were controlled and understood in the telling, and some not. I’ve found myself looking back to those sessions around the kitchen table as I try to write fiction that remains present with the characters and uses language that embodies them. What I have learned to reach for is not meaning, reveal-able and map-able, but resonance—the feeling of being swept up in a flow of connections. Achieve resonance, I tell myself, and meaning will emerge with greater depth and intensity than if I had reached for it on its own.