Checking in with H.V. Chao

January 8th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Americans are wont to envy Europeans their government arts funding and the cultural prestige still afforded writers, but the French rightly envy our many venues for short fiction. Lament as we might dwindling readerships, or question the fallout of university patronage, the literary journal has kept a certain short story culture alive stateside, and beyond its sphere genre magazines are similarly thriving.

Since 1981, the revue Brèves has been leading the good fight in France, part of the short story résistance that followed in the wake of the 1970s short story renaissance. Wonderfully edited, with its theme issues devoted to genre, country, and single authors, it’s proven time and again a great resource for researching and reading short fiction, a somewhat underdog form in France. Now among the nation’s premier short story reviews, it is celebrating its 100th issue, and I am delighted to report my good friend H.V. Chao’s name graces the cover. Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud generously translated his story “My Father’s Hand.”

This mark’s Chao’s second appearance in French; the first was Fall 2011, in the fantastical revue Le Visage Vert. There Anne-Sylvie Homassel rendered as “Le Joyau du nord” his story “Jewel of the North,” first published in the Fall 2009 issue of Epiphany. I was last reminded of this tale over Thanksgiving, when the news surfaced that

amid the blizzard of paper scraps that flurried down during last Thursday’s parade were some details that should never have been put into public hands – never mind let flutter through the streets of New York City.

Social security numbers, police detail assignments, and incident reports were all visible on the confetti strips dumped along the parade route at 65th and Central Park West on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

In Chao’s story, an unexplained rain of ash gives way to bits of paper:

A few days later, the first scraps fell:  the curled edge of an almanac, half a canceled stamp, a charred bit of receipt with a price still partly legible. At the café Anya, frowning, fished the scorched end of a ticket stub from the tea dregs at the bottom of her cup. Some believe these tatters, with their evidence of daily lives, an attempted message met en route with accident.

Where am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 at EDWARD GAUVIN.