Issue #149: Partisans

Our new story is Karl Taro Greenfeld’s “Partisans.” Unfortunately, due to a printing error, Karl’s bio was not included in the paper edition of the magazine. So here it is, properly–we apologize to our readers and author, and will be finding ways to make this up to Karl later, but for now I hope you will all enjoy this great work of fiction, as well as the introduction by contributing editor Pei-Ling Lue. -HT

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of five books, including the collection NowTrends, coming later this year from Hobart’s Short Flight/Long Drive books, Boy Alone, a Washington Post Best Book of 2009, Speed Tribes and China Syndrome. A long time writer and editor for The Nation, Time and Sports Illustrated, he was the the editor of Time Asia and among the founding editors of Sports Illustrated China. His writing has appeared in numerous anthologies including Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction and has been widely translated. Since taking up fiction writing in 2006, his stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Paris Review, Commentary, The Sun, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, New York Tyrant and American Short Fiction, am ong other publications.

Introduction by Pei-Ling Lue: I first encountered Karl Taro Greenfeld’s writing when I read his story “NowTrends” in the 2009 Best American Short Stories collection edited by Alice Sebold. A few months later, I picked up an issue of The Paris Review and found another story written by Karl. I felt that he wrote exactly the type of stories One Story publishes–stories that have a strong voice, stories that focus on unique situations set in interesting locations.

Eventually, I recognized Karl’s name when I saw it in our submission manager and I brought his story to our editorial meeting. We ended up declining it because it wasn’t the right fit for our magazine, but we asked him to send us some more. As much as editors would love to write a personal note to each one of the lovely people who submit stories to us, sadly, there just isn’t enough time in the day. But when editors ask to see more stories, we really do mean it.

Karl sent us a few more stories before there was one we felt was going to be a good match, but by the time I had reached out to him, it had been accepted by another magazine. Fortunately, Karl later sent me “Partisans,” which was the perfect One Story story.

While Karl and I worked together editing “Partisans,” he said, “You know, One Story is a really hard nut to crack. I’ve been submitting to you guys for years.” I explained that since we only publish authors one time, we try very, very hard to find just the right fit. In fact, most of the authors we’ve eventually published in the magazine had submitted as much as seven or eight stories before they published with us.

What I loved about “Partisans” was that it reminded me of stories I read in childhood with adventurers in far-off lands. The soldiers in Karl’s story are sent off into the desert to defend their unnamed country from partisans, whose motives are never explained. There’s a foreboding atmosphere throughout the story, but ultimately, the reader is left with a sense of hope.

To learn more about “Partisans,” please read my Q&A with author Karl Taro Greenfeld here.

2 thoughts on “Issue #149: Partisans

  1. One of the best and more dramatic of short stories I’ve read in some time. As a 24 year Marine Corps veteran, I could readily appreciate the environment encountered by the discouraged soldiers and their hapless leader. The swiveling machine gun, controlled by the Minor-Leftenant was diabolical in its capability for shooting at partisans as well as keeping the “friendlies” loyal. Why wouldn’t the unnamed protagonist finally give up and head for the partisan campfires, searching for a better life?

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