This Week: Helen Marshall and Jamaica Kincaid

This week on, we’re featuring the work of Canadian writer Helen Marshall. Her debut collection of short fiction, Hair Side, Flesh Side, was released by ChiZine Publications in November 2011 to strong critical acclaim. Marshall is no stranger to acclaim or quality writing, as demonstrated by her previous Aurora Award-winning poetry collection Skeleton Leaves.

side_coverThe story we’ve chosen to reprint on the site this week, “The Mouth, Open,” is in many ways an ideal demonstration of Marshall’s talents as a writer, which makes it a great introduction to her work. It is a story of a lonely man in a strange land, finding himself undergoing a transformation both bizarre and aptly reflective of his own individual pathos. To say any more would spoil the experience of the story, but suffice it to say that Marshall’s dark, knotted imagination is more than paralleled by her grasp of character and what makes people tick… and what makes them ache. In addition to “The Mouth, Open,” we’ve also run an interview with Marshall, which provides ample insight into the writer’s views on her writing, among many other things.

Those who enjoy the story should strongly consider picking up a copy of Hair Side, Flesh Side, which also carries the distinction of being a beautifully assembled book, courtesy of ChiZine and also the artist who provided the interior work for the collection, Chris Roberts. The art within is appropriately distinctive and macabre, fitting perfectly alongside Marshall’s fictions.

Meanwhile, in the latest installment of 101 Weird Writers, our newest contributor Leif Schenstead-Harris has conducted a close reading of the work of Jamaica Kincaid, circling around her story from The Weird (“My Mother”) in particular, leaving us with a unique entry point into the work of a writer who has stronger connections to the realm of weird fiction and unreality than readers may realize.

In the weeks ahead, we will run select material from Will Ludwigsen’s upcoming short story collection, In Search Of and Others, and the Fungi anthology, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey, alongside interviews with our featured writers and editors. We will also have more installments of 101 Weird Writers devoted to Caitlin Kiernan, Laird Barron, and others, as well as the latest from our excellent resident columnists. We have even bigger surprises and features lined out for the months ahead, so stay tuned!