“Origin Story” by Felicia Chavez

Imprisoned behind glass in New York City’s Jewish Museum: a sinister grin in graphite.  Too big-teeth and hairy brows crowned with a jester’s coxcomb.  “I wanted something visually exciting,” Jerry Robinson said of his concept sketch of The Joker.  “I wanted something that would make an indelible impression, would be bizarre, would be memorable.”

“Ah, Arthur is Here” by David Linebarger

Solve this problem:  Your daughter’s playing with a doll, a gift she just received from a friend.  The doll is white. 1968: John Carlos gives the black power salute Arthur Ashe wins the first US Open. 1970: Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye the problem of “whiteness” as a standard of beauty Arthur Ashe wins The Australian Open. 1972: Bettye Saar The Liberation of Aunt Jemima 1975 the liberation continues Arthur Ashe outthinks Connors to win Wimbledon “no matter what I do, or where or when I do it, I feel the eyes of others watching me, judging me.”

“Maximum Compound: Fight Blood Economy” by Stephanie Dickinson

Krystal developed into a first-string basketball player, and in junior high she’d been scouted. The acting-out years began and Krystal was sent to Elan, a residential school for troubled teens. It was here that the staff treated residents criminally. Often new students would be told that their throats could easily be cut in the night if they failed to get along with staff and other students.

“A Homeroom Meeting” by Fumiki Takahashi, translated from the Japanese by Toshiya Kamei

The day before the world was supposed to end, Kasumi woke up in the morning and slipped into her school uniform as usual. She had nothing else to do. Besides, she didn’t dislike school. On the other hand, her best friend, Tomo-chan, had left for a trip a few days earlier, saying she would spend time with her boyfriend. By this time, she would have lost her virginity.

“Make/Shift” by Joe Sacksteder

“Make/Shift drops the reader and characters into worlds, time, and the mind itself. In this debut collection of eleven short stories with three ‘commercial breaks’ between stories, author Joe Sacksteder hypnotizes you with his imagination, beckoning you to join him down the rabbit hole,” Michael Gawdzik writes.                  

“The Disappointing Trump Novel” by Gareth Watkins

You won’t find much radical analysis in contemporary fiction: Trump is stupid, rude, a racist and a misogynist; his election was a completely unsuspected usurpation of both a deserving candidate and the norms that bound an imperfect but fundamentally good country together. Now it falls to the few good people left to struggle against him, like Dumbledore’s Army, like District 13, like The Fellowship of the Ring. It must be done, and it must be done now, but it must be done in a kind, hopeful, affirming way, or we will be no better than he is.