I just received the fantastic news that Hunger Mountain accepted "Death by Pufferfish" for publication in an forthcoming issue (I will link to it when it goes live, but it will probably be a while--yet I can't stop myself from writing about this now). I am thrilled because this story has long sought a home, because I was getting tired of revising it, but mostly because Hunger Mountain is where it will come to rest.
There is no more perfect home for this story than Hunger Mountain, because HM is the journal of Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I wrote the first drafts of that story in early 2008, just in time to apply to VCFA. It got me accepted to VCFA. It was my first submission, in the summer of 2008, to the workshop led by Xu Xi and Christopher Noel. It was with me when, via that workshop, I met Suzanne Farrell Smith and Caitlin Leffel Ostroy, who together became the backbone of my writing life in New York. The story went through no fewer than 18 revisions; grew from 4,000-ish words to 9,000+; picked up and then dropped subplots about terrorists and strippers and fucked-up father-son relationships before the story came to know what it was really about; allowed me to Google such strange things as "tetrodotoxin" and many Japanese words I didn't previously know; and let me finally understand and appreciate the job that Dave was doing at the time. A radically different draft of it went through each of my four advisors, and what I thought was the final draft ended up in my creative thesis. Xu Xi, who advised me for my last semester, even chose an excerpt from it to read aloud at graduation. It's been batted about throughout different literary magazine slush piles, rejected each time,though it did get a Glimmertrain nod for being in the top 25 submissions for their August 2010 Short Story Award for New Writers, and since then, it's sat waiting for consideration from five other potential homes.
The story taught me. Over and again. Draft through draft. I actually lovethis story. I feel fondness for it like it is a living, breathing thing--because, to me, it is a living, breathing, ever-changing thing.
And a beloved thing, one that is finally coming home.