After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and DystopiaAs I write this I’m listening to “Strange Powers” by the Magnetic Fields. What a weird, beautiful song.

Since it’s been a while, I thought I’d drop in here and post an update. Recently, I received a nice review of my story “The Great Game at the End of the World” in After, from Cemetery Dance Magazine.  They say:

“The Great Game at the End of the World” by Matthew Kressel is the most touching tale, which opens like something out of a Douglas Adams novel in a baseball game that ESPN would froth over. Aliens and monsters fielding the diamond should be the true scare here, but as with many of the tales within After, something much darker lurks below the surface. Yet, fright is not the emotion struck hardest here. Truly affecting.

That was pretty great to hear. They had a lot of nice things to say about other stories to.  This is what they said about “Blood Drive” by Jeffrey Ford, one of my favorite stories in the book:

“Blood Drive” by Jeffrey Ford is a NRA member’s dream where teens receive guns as gifts to take to high school, for show, and for the basic right to bear arms. Part satire, part nightmare, this frightens and unsettles more than any other story for the sheer immediacy to our own world. A supernatural element would lessen its impact and shows monsters can be born out of policy, not solely from defective DNA or poisoned nations. This might wind up with a nomination somewhere, somehow, and hopefully not in the headlines.

And of the anthology as a whole, they say:

Young adults of all ages will find this anthology a worthwhile read. Anyone who has picked up a tome by these two fine editors knows that they have been incapable of producing a poor product. After exceeds expectations and harkens back to the quality of their Year’s Best efforts. Highly recommended for the teens in all of us.

This review came out a few days after my birthday, and on that date I also happened to finish the last draft of my novel, which is based on the Jewish myth of the Lamed Vav, or thirty-six just men who sustain the world. I am currently refining the first three chapters in preparation for sending out to agents.  It’s exciting to finally be at this point where I can start showing it to the (broader) world. I’m quite happy with how it turned out. There are resonances, synchronicities, and themes in the novel which I had not consciously intended, but managed to rise from the story naturally in ways I could not have expected. When someone else reads your work and gets it, that is, they resonate with the themes that you intended, that is a moment of great joy for me, since I have just spanned that great gulf between one human to another with only words.

I hope that one day soon you might be able to read this novel and let me know what you think of it.