Why We Chose It: "Coming Clean" by Hanna Rosenheimer
April 18, 2018
Each month, one of our genre editors will discuss what made them select a certain piece from the current issue. This month, Maureen Langloss elaborates on why she accepted "Coming Clean."
There were many stages of falling in love with Hanna Rosenheimer’s story, “Coming Clean.”
The first spark: Hanna’s voice. Vivid. Surprising. Honest. Funny. Emotional yet matter-of-fact. Confident yet full of self-doubt. Voice is the best way to flirt with Split Lip editors.
Second: the subject matter. I was excited to come across a story involving women in a lesbian relationship just being. Having the same baggage and using each other and enjoying each other and working shit out together just like couples do in straight stories.
Third: the juxtapositions. Surprising juxtapositions turn me on. Especially when they aren’t totally explained, when they are a bit askew, when the reader has to fill in the gaps. Think Amy Leach. Think Maggie Nelson. In Hanna’s story, we see two threads pop into the narrative that we don’t expect: the teacher/student relationship in her old school and her stalker’s suicide. Neither of these anecdotes completely flow with the story, but they co-exist so perfectly with the primary relationship between Ivy and the narrator, acting as foils to it. Yes, they are backstory. But they also take us some place new. They make us consider the build-up and crud that all humans carry with them from old relationships/experiences into new ones. They make us consider the various ways and degrees by which people take advantage of each other. If you’re wondering, another story we published that I love for its intriguing juxtapositions is Josh McColough’s “Meteor.”
Fourth: the drain metaphor. Yes, stories with overarching metaphors can be tricky. Overdone. Underdone. But we thought Hanna’s was perfect. Gritty. Funny. Poignant. Slightly absurd. Full of symbolic possibility. We love how she turned that tangle of hair at the end into something meaningful—beautiful even. In case you missed it, Brett Stuckel achieved a similar feat with his metaphoric toilet paper in “Loss Prevention.”
Fifth: some amazing sentences! Cue: “My shower’s so gross I’ve been hooking up with people to use theirs.”
Sixth: Hanna herself. At Split Lip, we do not read stories blind. We actively look for new faces. Hanna is a sophomore in college! She’s a math major! Yep, I said math. She writes about internalized homophobia and lesbian identity. When she sent us her story, she had not yet been published outside of undergrad publications. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and promote a talented young writer as she embarks on what we think will be a brilliant writing career.