Interview with Frederick Reiken
- Conducted by Abby Holcomb
Bibliophilia - by Lauren Avirom
Review: Don DeLillo's Point Omega
- by Lacey Dunham

The Old Virgin - by Travis Mills
"Rick lowered the knife. He looked at the virgin. He could barely tell she was a woman. The angles of her cheeks were gone, flattened from years that left her with nothing to tell what she once was. Her feet and her hands were just rounded white stones and her robe was full of little holes as if the birds had begun to peck her away."

The Happy Treatment - by Teri Carter
"You decide not to share the rest of the words circling in the drain of your head: childish, mean, vindictive, hateful. Ned stands up, lays the folder and pen on the seat of his chair. He opens a desk drawer where he takes out a packet of acupuncture needles, then looks down at you, hovers, and rips open the rice paper packet. 'How about the Happy Treatment today?'"

Zap, Donnie, and You're Done - by Daniel W. Davis
"Donnie closed his eyes. There was himself, and the bar, and these two men. There was a beer in his hand, and there was the background music on the jukebox. And there was his story, swirling around in his head, which these two men already knew front to back but wanted to hear again because it was the kind of story people just liked to hear."

Scruffy Buttons - by Chris Castle
"When Stan opened his eyes, the sun was just starting to rise in front of him. He stood still for a moment. It felt as if the sun was doing this just for them. They stayed still but somehow still kept dancing. There was motion from inside of them. The sun rose a little higher in the sky. Sometime soon there would be footsteps on the stairs outside. But not yet."

How Do You Tolerate a Balloon? - by Andrea Peck
Map Post - by Carmella Braniger
Hesitation Waltz - by Ivan Young
Diva - by Ivan Young

While the debate regarding the purpose of fiction is as old as the craft itself, recently the focus of the dialogue has shifted to the reader, taking into consideration the ways in which one experiences fiction in all its varied forms: novels and short stories, print and online. Theories abound, of course, when it comes to the impact of literature on our lives—from fiction as entertainment or dalliance to being inexorably moral, as characters’ actions are considered manifestations of the responsibility of free will.

Whatever your opinion on the objectives of literature, the human desire to organize the messiness of life through narrative cannot be denied. Just ask Frederick Reiken, author of the forthcoming Day for Night and subject of this issue’s interview. In Day for Night, the deftly talented Reiken takes us on a journey from Florida to the Caribbean, from Salt Lake City to the Israeli desert, telling a surprising and satisfyingly interconnected story through the voices of a variety of different protagonists. Commenting on the ways in which characters try to tie up loose ends and come to terms with their own stories, Reiken states: "One of the things I was exploring in this novel was the human need to perceive lived events as narratives and the manner in which lived events, once narrated, become ‘textual.’ As soon as something is rendered as textual, we immediately, at the most primal level, begin to look for patterns that will allow us to make sense of it." For the characters in Day for Night, creating narratives is a coping mechanism, allowing them to explain what once seemed inexplicable.

In the four short stories featured in this issue of Buzzard Picnic, we encounter characters that are dealing with both internal and external demons, and witness the myriad ways they find to cope. A suburban housewife seeks a non-traditional acupuncturist who has set up shop in his ex-wife’s basement in order to better understand her relationship with her new stepson. A couple faced with trauma tries on different personas in order to find new ways to connect with each other and their environment. An ex-pat living in South America finds contentment rather than the riches he was seeking. And finally, a reluctant celebrity is forced to reconcile "his story" with that which appeared in the papers years before.

In Lauren Avirom’s most recent installment of "Bibliophilia," she suggests that as readers, we can learn much about the way we compartmentalize our own lives from simply glancing at our bookshelves. Faced with the question of what to read next, Lauren found herself sorting through almost every book in her apartment. She comments, "It called to mind my favorite moment in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, when Rob re-organizes his record collection – not alphabetically or chronologically – but ‘autobiographically,’ because it’s ‘comforting.’" Patterns and connections and narratives are all around us, and we cannot forget that when we read a novel or a story we connect to it and it becomes part of our own narrative. Literature does not exist in a vacuum, because if it did, it would be a giant tree crashing in a forest with no one to witness its beauty.

Literature must always be considered an experience; reading is necessarily active. In the sense that literature is constantly creating a dialogue, verbal or otherwise, Buzzard Picnic attempts to do the same. We exist to serve you, the reading public. To this end, feedback is welcomed. Please email thoughts, comments and suggestions to the editors. If there is something you would like to see in this space, or if something is missing, please let us know.

But wait! Before I let you dig in and get to the good stuff, a hearty congratulations to poet Mather Schneider, Issue No. 1 contributor. His new book of poetry, "Drought Resistant Strain," has been published by Interior Noise Press.


-Abby Holcomb, Editor-In-Chief