Little Patuxent Review published my first short story – actually, the first serious short story I’ve ever written – in their Winter 2015: Food issue. Seems befitting, yes? My story may not be what you expect, however.You won’t find any pretty photos of cappuccinos here.
I will admit that I carry a certain amount of pride in this accomplishment. I had a photograph published in a newer literary journal in 2014, but in my opinion that does not par with having a written piece, a piece so intimately tied to the theme of eating and body image, accepted by a journal for publication.
My short story is called Escape, and combines internal monologue and the suffering of one girl entrenched in an eating disorder, with a broader question of how eating disorders are interpreted, and often romanticized, in society. I use the military as my setting: the character, referred to only as One, was recruited by the military for espionage purposes, as a genetic anomaly caused her to become so emaciated that she is not visible to the eye. This metaphor is extended throughout the story: of the silence of eating disorders, how those who battle anorexia feel, by means of their mental disturbances, that they are invisible to the world and not worthy of being seen except by those who perhaps want to take advantage of their thinness by means of, say, advertisement.
What interests me about the inspiration for this story was that its concept arrived before I fell into patterns of disordered eating and thinking myself. Such makes me wonder if my subconscious mind had already developed an empathy for people fighting these demons, or if it was some kind of premonition that I would unfortunately come to more vividly understand the emotions associated at a later time.
I wrote this piece for an introductory fiction course at my college. I submitted it over December 2013, and initially it was rejected by the magazine. Jen Grow, the editor of the journal, contacted me shortly after with the offer of helping me edit the story for the Winter issue by further unraveling the bleak nature of One’s conflicts and the social dialogue it is attempting to convey. I worked at it for three or so months and resubmitted, first for Jen’s approval and then to the other editors through the submission engine. Blessedly, in December I was informed of its acceptance.
I am most grateful to have the opportunity to share my work with all of you. The journal is for sale through Little Patuxent Review’s webpage, which I have just linked for you. Click on Issue 17 – Food to purchase. LPR is in its ninth year, having been founded in 2006. Michael Chabon, whose Telegraph Avenue I have just finished reading (would recommend) and who won the 2001 Puilitzer Prize for fiction with Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, was featured in its pages. I feel blessed that I am in such company despite the gap in years.
So if you have some time to sit down with a quality literary journal whose plethora of stories and poems will not prove a disappointment, take a look into LPR. I would love to see some feedback on my story, Escape, as well. I, as an amateur writer, am always willing to hear your thoughts on my words.
Happy reading, everyone!