Fiction Fix: “Immortal” by Alex Burrett


Have you consulted the Flavorpill food pyramid lately? You’ll notice that we recommend a weekly dose of Fiction Fix as an essential part of your healthy cultural diet. How come? Well, you may not have time for novels, but short stories are like Flintstones vitamins: quick, fun, and good for you! Read this one, and don’t forget to grab a lollipop on your way out.

This week’s Fiction Fix comes to us from Fifty Two Stories, a website from Harper Perennial dedicated to posting one new or classic short short every week this year. A couple of weeks ago, the selection was “Immortal,” a story from My Goat Ate Its Own Legs, Alex Burrett’s new collection of “tales for adults.” The straightforwardly named story centers on one so-called Immortal and his life in and around an ancient English cottage: Think Tuck Everlasting meets the the parts of the fourth Harry Potter book set in Little Hangleton, the site of Voldemort’s ancestral home (c’mon, you’ve read it, or at least seen the movies). Burrett’s story totally nails that creepy fairytale aura he’s aiming for:

Every hundred years or so, someone on this planet doesn’t die when they should. They get to a certain age, then stop aging. Our immortal is one of them.

The Immortal is the main character of the story, but it’s told, Nick Carraway-style, from the perspective of a young observer. In addition to being creepy-entertaining, the story makes some interesting conjectures about immortality: “Immortals aren’t invincible, by the way. They can feel physical pain. Cut them and they bleed, bash them and they bruise. They just don’t age.”

We’d never thought of it that way.

Read the full story here, and check out the book here. Below is a trailer for Harper Perennial’s Summer of the Short Story.