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Posted December 2, 2012
Disclaimer: I've known Jodi Angel for a couple years now as a colleague and friend, so keep that in mind when I say that Angel's writing grabs you by the back of your collar, spins you around, and frog-marches you into worlds where narrators are unreliable, friends old and new are suspect, and beer, weed, and cigarettes are mother's milk. The piece "You Only Get Letters from Jail" is the title story for her collection, coming out in summer 2013 from Tin House. If you walk away from this story feeling wowed and vaguely unsettled, Angel's done her job.
The Armstrong piece "Hesca" is also unsettling - he captures that sense of dis-ease and restless energy of the narrator, a veteran who's trying to re-acclimate and act as normal as possible, but who fails miserably. Very impressive story.
In all honesty, these two pieces got to me so much that I couldn't read the other two, plus the finalists of the 79-word flash fiction contest. But I will. And I'm sure they will all be just as incredible as these two stories.