‘Head in the Floor’ by Kate Folk

This is another story that I’ve thieved writing advice from, this strange short piece about a woman who finds a human head growing in her bedroom floor. I hate to admit this, but there are very few writers who I will drop everything to read new work from – but Kate Folk is one of those writers. She has such a range of voice, command of language, and imagination of narrative. This story is no different – one of the aspects I love is how the conversational quality of the narrative voice builds a wildly flavorful approach to storytelling. It’s kind of terse, but charming and funny. There are points where it feels like the narrator doesn’t actually feel like telling their own story – ”I figured maybe you know the floor was rotting. I didn’t know. What do I know about floors” – which further builds my own investment in reading on. As I’m compiling this list, I’m realizing commonalities between stories, and aspects of storytelling I enjoy. The protagonist in ‘Head in the Floor’ places a towel over the head as she figures out what to do about it. “The towel helps. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the towel does nothing,” she asserts to the reader, sounding remarkably similar to the soup-loving protagonist in Shane Jones’ ‘Off Days.’ Sometimes, when I read this story, I think about that scene in Jumanji where the floor turns to quicksand and then back into floor and Robin Williams gets stuck in it with just his face protruding and then spiders crawl on him. Both have been influential in my development as a writer and human, but maybe for different reasons.

First published in Tupelo Quarterly, collected in Out There, Penguin Random House 2022. Read the story here)

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