As One Story nears our 100th issue, we are more determined than ever to keep the magazine growing and moving forward. One way that we are doing this is to have other people on our staff step in as editor and oversee a story, from start to finish, that they have pulled from the slush. Marie Bertino is our first “guest editor,” and so I am turning the mike over to her this month to discuss the new story, “Fire Season” that she found and brought to our attention. Enjoy!
Katharine Hepburn said, “Plain women know more about men than beautiful ones do.” I thought of this quote while reading Amelia Kahaney’s gorgeous story “Fire Season.” Here we have thirteen year old, “ugly” Marni who wakes one morning to find she has become beautiful. The surprising fallout of this change is what comprises “Fire Season.”
Amelia Kahaney has the writer’s gift of seeing our world in a specific, unconventional way. In “Fire Season,” she decides not to wear her mythology or magic on her sleeve, preferring instead to expertly walk the line between real human pain and circumstantial divinity. The characters she creates in some cases peddle magic, but are human through and through; Lorraine the mother whose hobby of grinding lenses does not bring her any closer to seeing her daughter and Pablo, who can pull a hundred scarves from his fist, but does Marni the greatest injustice by ignoring her new beauty. Somewhere in their short, brutal exchanges, Marni’s heart and the heart of this piece resides.
And, the lines! I want to put them in my pocket. Roger’s mustache is “walrusy,” the “particles” between Marni and her love are “stretched tight as slingshots.” After first reading “Marni waits for Pablo with a clanging heart” it stayed with me for days. Not beating, not drumming, but clanging! Who among us hasn’t waited with a clanging heart for someone? Enjoy “Fire Season.” There is magic here.