The first-ever full print issue of BULL: Men’s Fiction includes Kevin Wilson’s wonderfully titled story “The Moon’s Face, Darkened.” The story’s premise centers on a total lunar eclipse and is a delightful mixture of outrageous, funny, and poignant gut-punch:

A taste of its Outrageous: “[Narrator’s wife] talked about things like tradition and catching up with old friends but I understood that the real reason was that she was going to sleep with some outdoorsy type who had complicated knots displayed on the walls of his study, that she had been sleeping with this guy since high school, and I was not to deprive her of this.”

A taste of its Funny: “I watched the World Submission Fighting Finals on ESPN, two Brazilians wrapping themselves around and around each other, trying very hard, I thought, not to accidentally fuck.”

Poignant Gut-Pinch: There are several disturbing/poignant moments throughout and the last, gorgeous paragraph in particular delivers an emotional punch that bears the full force of this short work’s cumulative power.

Another standout story in the issue is Sara Lippmann’s “Houseboy.” The pidgin English voice here is phenomenal and beautifully wrought:

“There is much items to fix. I take my hammer to pool deck. When I vision a lonely nail I hammer that nail because Mrs. Strickland worries the tetanus emergency. Then–how do you say?–I light up the pool deck. My fire glows green breakthrough to other side. My fire is a Pink Floyd song. I love Pink Floyd! I smoke Marlboro. I think. I try thinking English. I try to dream in English but in dream wild beasts rush the humble mountaintop like refuges to Yam Suf. A stampede of zebra and giraffa and peacock. The pool makes hypnotic on me. The wind blows, the water gleam the color the eyes of Tzipi when she wear blue contact lens. I swim Olympic. I swim and swim without thought or molesting.”

And I can’t resist also quoting this:

“Sometime there is deer eating the hydrangea bush and sometime I exclaimate, Die deer! But sometime I stand there and say, you are my friend, deer, you have eyes like hand grenade, when I vision your blood pulsating true animal vein make me want to be a better man.”

Like Kevin Wilson’s “The Moon’s Face, Darkened,” Sara Lippmann’s “Houseboy” is a story that builds and builds until it’s poignant and gripping close. Congratulations, Sara.

Curtis Dawkins has a great trio of gritty stories in the issue, “Urban Archery,” “In The Dayroom with Stinky,” and “A North.”

From “Urban Archery”:

“It was [Terrell’s] own fault his marriage was falling apart. Terrell felt back abut it and I think he really loved Marvel, but still, every other day when he got home from running his press at the paper factory, he’d hook up his bass boat to the back of his Dodge and meet his girlfriend at the little motel off the highway. Everyone knew about it; I didn’t even know why he bothered hooking up his glittery blue boat anymore. He never brought home any fish, and he never smelled like worms.”

The closing image in this story, of Terrell and the narrator with bow and arrows drawn, is memorable and beautifully written.

Dawkins’s short story collection will be the first release forthcoming from BULL Books. I look forward to the read.

In addition to stories from Ryan Glenn Smith, Joshua Kleinberg, Nick Bertelson, and more, my story “Lodgers” is also included in this issue. At 4,000+ words “Lodgers” is the longest story I’ve published to date. My deep thanks to Jarrett Haley for his expert editing and his faith in this story set entirely on a farm in Ireland.

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