Review by Eileen Wiedbrauk
The short-short and flash fiction of Erin Fitzgerald, writer, editor and blogger, can be found among some of the most respected online journals (full listing here). And we -- the bloggers and editors of Third Coast -- have been reading it all.
Fitzgerald's stories are the kind of the little treasures I love to come across when reading on the web. She has a way of turning the common place, the frustrating, or the ubiquitous aspects of contemporary American life into interesting and surprising narratives. Picking the kids up from school, identity theft, and the teeny-bopper jewelry boutique become occasions for horror, humor, and the start of an interplanetary war respectively.
In spite of the brevity of much of her work -- or perhaps because of it -- Fitgerald is able to believably adopt the voices of wildly different characters. The mesmerizing voice of the narrator in "This Morning Will Be Different" tells us "I am ready," but not for what. The narrator lays out all the things she will do and in the end leaves us with only an echo -- a sense of yearning easily understood by many a daydreamer. The narrator of "There Are Always Children" speaks in a much more visceral manner: "A thought crawls into my skull through my sinuses." But for this unnamed narrator thoughts arrive too late. "That should be a warning," Fitzgerald tells the reader.
The hushed but workable terror that pervades "There Are Always Children" snakes through her other works, even those cloaked in the trappings of sensible suburban adulthood. It's there in a subtle way that leaves the reader unsettled but intrigued in "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" "Waiting Room" and even in "Trumpet Voluntary."
Perhaps that should be a warning is a good means of describe Erin Fitzgerald's stories -- not a warning to stay away, but to stick around for the twist.