When I started writing about short stories for this month, I decided that I one of the things I wanted to do was share stories from literary journals by new and emerging writers. I have, however, run into a couple of problems with this. The first issue is that some of these writers don't have author photos readily available. The more difficult issue, however, is that some stories I like are no longer available online for one reason or another.
Luckily, I was able to work around both problems today because Cynthia Romanowski happens to be a friend. All I had to do was text her a request for an author photo, and within minutes she sent the above shot. And despite "Wrestle Mania" originally being published in a journal that no longer exists, I was able to find it through the Wayback Machine, which is a relief because it's one of my favorite stories of hers. Cynthia is one of the people I turn to when I need a reader to workshop my drafts, and this story is one of the reasons why I know I can trust her with my writing.
What she does here reminds me of things I said about Tim O'Brien's "The Man I Killed" and yesterday's Stephen Graham Jones story, "The Night Cyclist." Like O'Brien, she gets into the head of a character and makes the reader feel part of the moment through things like repetition and sentence structure. But as with SJG's story, I love her choice of details, which feel visceral and real. When I read this, I can identify with some of these images and moments because they're all universal, so it's easy to get wrapped up in the moment and start to feel anxious like the narrator. And that anxiety is everything. This is how I know I'm empathizing. I love that while I can break down the technical elements of this story and understand how Cynthia did it, I don't know if I could replicated it (or, at least, replicate it well) because I don't think I think like that. But man, I'm glad she does.