The world at large is pretty awesome, and yet, at the same time, it's pretty damn awful. In fact, the last few calendar years have admittedly been checking the "suck" box pretty hardcore, with not much end to it in sight. People want to find a cause for the awful; they want to pin it down, find a way to strangle it, and they roll with a "if you're not part of the solution..." kind of attitude. This puts up barriers to communication, barriers to the collective experience that we have as human beings. But let's not forget what I stated this paragraph with. People on the whole are incredibly amazing and complex creatures, and their backgrounds are so varied and nuanced that trying to lump a group of them to be identical is a folly. There's a wondrous feeling when you can connect with someone in an open and honest way, and the reason I'm blabbing about it so much is because this issue of Sliced Quarterly is simply filled with stories that allow you to connect in a significant and deep way.
There's so much packed into this volume that I'm having trouble figuring out what to highlight; it's all truly superb. The biggest shock for me was "Prayers to Dakshayani," as it revealed a significant practice that is part of Indian culture that I had never heard of, and it took me so off guard that I now am looking into its history and the effect it has today. "Blood, Swears, and Balls" is jammed full of fourth-wall-breaking meta gags, yet is grounded enough in its reality that it lands wonderfully. Dave Everyman examines the parts of today's technoculture that isolate us from the very real world around us, and in a supremely evocative way.
The shorter stories are no less impactful, as "Oh, Dad!" takes a gag that turns into something so much more and leaves you wondering how you're feeling right after reading it. It caught me between laughter and horror, and I can't recommend that experience enough. "The Passenger" takes a look inside the mind of what could be any of us at one point or another. Contemplation can sometimes lead to too much self-judgment, and this story is the natural endpoint of that kind of attention.
Ken Reynolds' experiment has often brought my awareness to some pretty talented storytellers, and each issue has had at least two or three stories that lingered with me for a while, but this issue is the first where every one hit me in a very cool way. I don't know if that will be your experience, as we all encounter art in our own way, but I know that for me this issue is the proof of the experiment, and while some of you may have had it before now, I can guarantee that you will at some point. There's just too much good throughout for it to not happen.
Share the stories that move you.