Review: STET Sarah Gailey (Short Story, Fireside)

I’ll confess that I’m easily won over by stories that play with form and structure. I’m also love texts that use the conventions of one form of writing to speak in a different voice outside of that convention. I’m also lazy, so stories that are also very short have an advantage with me. Even conceding these personal biases, I do think ‘STET’ by Sarah Gailey is remarkable.

The core of the text is a single paragraph but within and surrounding that paragraph are footnotes and editorial comments. Together they piece to together a portrait of a character, their emotions and a tragedy that precedes the piece.

It’s not long on plot, hence why I call it a portrait – there’s a sense of a snapshot in time and then a backstory to that snapshot. However, it manages to cover some deep themes about the ethics of algorithims, grief and some darkly funny references and book titles.

The overall design of the text is excellent as well (apparently differently fomatted for web, ebook and print but I’ve only seen the web version) cleverly suggestive of a text under review as well as deliniating the voice of a second character commenting on both the text and the well being of the narrator.

Well worth a read. It’s available here: https://firesidefiction.com/stet

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16 thoughts on “Review: STET Sarah Gailey (Short Story, Fireside)

  1. It’s realky well done, but (rot13) bapr gur jbbqcrpxre pnzr hc, V jnf qvfgenpgrq ol “url, gung qbrfa’g fbhaq yvxr n erny fcrpvrf. Vf vg erny be snxr?” naq zl ybff bs sbphf qrgenpgrq sebz gur rzbgvbany vzcnpg bs gur fgbel. V pna’g frr nal ernfba jul fur pbhyqa’g unir hfrq n snzvyvne raqnatrerq fcrpvrf nf gur pnhfr bs gur penfu.

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      • That could have been really interesting—vs ernqref flzcngurgvp gb gur raqnatrerq snhan jrer znqr hapbzsbegnoyr ol gur zbggure’f tevrs—but maybe it’s not the reaction Gailey was aiming for.

        In any case, I still liked the story.

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    • I think also if it had been real/more famous, then the story might have been read as an attack on the status of the, um, thing that I’m too lazy too ROT13. The element being more of a non-malicious miscalculation of priorities

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    • sweetgumandpines: It’s realky well done, but (rot13) bapr gur jbbqcrpxre pnzr hc, V jnf qvfgenpgrq ol “url, gung qbrfa’g fbhaq yvxr n erny fcrpvrf. Vf vg erny be snxr?” naq zl ybff bs sbphf qrgenpgrq sebz gur rzbgvbany vzcnpg bs gur fgbel.

      I actually think this is one of the most effective parts of the piece — because that’s what I did, too. Rira gubhtu V xarj gung ure puvyq unq qvrq, urer V jnf jbaqrevat nobhg jurgure gur oveq vf na npghny oveq, naq jurgure vg’f npghnyyl raqnatrerq. I just barely resisted Googling it.

      Qba’g guvax gung bhe NV bireybeqf qvqa’g frr hf univat gung erfcbafr, naq nqq vg gb gurve qngnonfr bs gur qrterrf bs jung’f vzcbegnag gb hf.

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