Featured Fiction: "Nightblooming" by Kenneth Calhoun

Aug. 30, 2009
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Kudos to the Paris Review for getting on the Internet bandwagon. A little bit. But hey, it's a start, and the short story from their newest issue is a lot of fun to read. Here's a snippet of "Nightblooming" by Kenneth Calhoun:

I was told they found themselves retired and so they said, Now's finally the time to form a band! You should see the instruments they fished out of attics and basements. Not so much the instruments themselveshorns haven't changed much over the yearsbut the cases. Some are covered with flesh-tone leather, boxes made of wood with rusty hinges, lined with red velvet. When they crack them open, it looks like they're pulling metal bones from the insides of a body.

The dudes are severely elderly, these Nightblooming Jazzmen. They wear white belts and bow ties, polyester pants pulled up high. Our angle is we're old, they say. So you have to dress the part if you're going to be our pulse, drumbo. They got me wearing plaid pants and bowling shoes. A couple of them have moustaches and they're serious about them. I paste one on for the big gig just to fit in around the face. Bleach my eyebrows and stick that silvery fringe under the nostrils, pop on a straw hat.

They have the coolest names. There's Clyde and Chet and Wally and Ernie and Horace. Do you believe that? When I first met up with them, when I told them my name was Tristan, they said, Ho, ho, what kind of name is that? Some of them thought I said Christian. I said I didn't know what kind of name it was, how should I know? I wasn't there when I was named.

Click here to read the entire story.

If you're a writer interested in submitting to the Paris Review, you can click here for their guidelines. But I will tell you this: I've had the opportunity to read a few issues of the P-Rev (I made that up, let's roll with it), and you don't necessarily need to follow Calhoun's style to get published there. Calhoun's story has an absolutely fantastic first-person narrator, and I think one of the reasons it works so well in this story is because of the tension early on between the narrator and his band mates. Not only that, he does a fantastic job of placing music inside his story.

Ken Brosky

Every month, I'm publishing a short story (less than 1,500 words) by a Wisconsin writer on the Fiction Addict blog! Click here to submit your story.


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