Czesko by Ef Deal

Another good story in this installment of F&SF. First, how can you not like a story written by someone named Ef Deal? Sounds like an elvish mafiosi to me... oddly appropriate considering.

The story's a 1st-person voice type of tale. The narrator speaks directly to the reader in a kind of boroughs street-speak that's familiar to anyone who read Motherless Brooklyn. The "so I said, so he said" came very close to annoying before the story got its hooks into me. The voice seems completely appropriate if a bit heavy-handed.

Here's the set-up: the narrator gets a call from her friend Czesko, who's in a bar. Czesko wants to be baptized, but he can't leave the bar. I don't want to say much more than that, and risk defusing the story's brilliance. I think Flannery O'Connor would be proud of the baptism scene to which we're finally treated.

No spoilers -- but the twist at the end is what really makes this story brilliant and makes it memorable. I think this one story's worth the measly cover price of the magazine. Ef, wherever you are, two thumbs up!

Interesting side note: Ef is a fellow Slush God survivor whose story was rescued from the Great Compost Heap by none other than John Joseph Adams. Good work, John!