Okay, Very Swanky

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Humans never cease to amaze me. I had the pleasure of riding one of your “trains” recently. “Train” seems to me a pithy description for the miraculous technology whereby you conduct a series of connected apartments to a predetermined destination by the sheer mental power of a few interesting fellows wearing funny hats. From what I could gather, these “conductors” are visitors from a past epoch, perhaps the Prohibition era?

When an elderly lady took one look at me and fainted, I realized that I was simply sitting there, watching the scenery go by, and I had inadvertently shocked the poor woman by my striking lack of literary ambition. The sound of her darning needles clattering to the floor galvanized me into action. I activated a World Wide Web-perusing device and “conducted” myself forthwith to the website of Electric Literature’s exciting new weekly journal of short fiction and poetry, Okey-Panky.

For a new venture, Okey-Panky is decidedly collected and demonstrates a great deal of verve. The first piece I read was a wonderful character study by Kentuckian Chris Offutt, titled “Bisbee.” Through the eyes of a 38-year-old waitress named Lucy, we witness the terrible cheeriness of her sprightly new 18-year-old coworker, Sheena. Offutt provides calculated hints of Lucy’s hardscrabble past while painting a dynamic portrait of the small American town of Bisbee. When Sheena’s naivete grates on Lucy, she makes amends and learns something about herself in the process.

What a nuanced portrayal of poor Lucy’s psychological landscape! This story was a delight to read and clearly written by an artist of wisdom. “Conduct” yourself to Okey-Panky immediately and read it. If you don’t feel like fiction, I also recommend a captivating graphic narrative by Simeon Mills called “The Bully: Part 1.”

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