Issue# 243: Rachel King’s Railing

One of the most interesting things fiction can do is allow us to climb inside the minds of individuals who might not see the world the way we do. More than any other art form, even film, fiction is transformative. And a first-person narrator can make that transformation all the more intimate and impacting.

Our new issue, “Railing” by Rachel King, allows us to climb inside the mind of a middle-aged sausage-maker who was, up till recently, a train engineer. He’s divorced, has a daughter, would love to escape his past, and longs for the future he sees coming his way—a future that will be turned around and made brighter, he hopes, by a stranger running for public office.

The story, however, isn’t political. It’s personal, reflective, and aching to expand out of its own confines—into a world that involves a little less struggle. When I asked Rachel to tell me what the story was about in just one word, the word she chose was “intimacy.” (For more on our conversation, check out our Q&A.) “Railing” is an outstanding and melancholy piece of fiction. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

3 thoughts on “Issue# 243: Rachel King’s Railing

  1. One of the most beautiful endings I’ve ever read. Listening to the moans of the passing trains in the six months after the train accident — like clockwork, now and again at midnight and again at 5 a.m. Going from the cold outside to the cold inside. So many meanings & some hope that King’s POV narrator is actually moving from the cold inside him to a place at least a little warmer. And he continues “to cut bones from flesh.” The accident must always be part of him. Thank you Rachel for a rich and wonderful story.

  2. Rachel’s story made me stop and think about the way storytelling itself can operate as a kind of currency in ethical transactions. That’s very drily abstract thing to say about such a pleasingly physical and beautifully gritty story. But I was struck by how this narrator comes to trade most secret possession–a story of mortality and great personally vulnerability–at a moment of ethical urgency. We see him guard the story carefully throughout a difficult time. Only finally to sacrifice it to honor a promise to someone even more vulnerable than he is. A powerful point of no return with a moving resolution of its crisis. Great writing, Rachel.

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