A short story by Dr. Seth Clabough, director of the Writing Center, was selected for inclusion in an anthology of the 26 best short stories published in the London- and New York-based literary magazine Litro since its inception in 2005, which includes work by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

Clabough’s story, "To Become Immortal," appears in the anthology Hearing Voices: the Litro Anthology of New Fiction. Also in the anthology, published by Kingston University Press in England in early June, is the story "Trees" by Anthony Doerr, whose novel All The Light We Cannot See won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction earlier this year.

Clabough’s story, a notable mention in the storySouth Million Writers Award, received favorable attention in a review of the anthology published July 5in The Straits Times, a Singapore-based newspaper. "My favourite [story]," the reviewer said, "is ‘To Become Immortal’ by Seth Clabough, a set of surreal instructions on how to do just that."

Clabough, also associate director of the Center for Academic Success and an assistant professor of English, joined the Longwood staff in late July after holding similar positions at Sweet Briar College. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous journals.

Excerpt from "To Become Immortal":

Next, at the funeral of a distant relative, you’ll need to be embraced by a big woman in a floral dress, with circular sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. In her eyes you’ll see the renegade comets of the Oort Cloud. Ignore them.
         "Don’t worry, dear," she’ll say with her lips to your ear as people file out of the church. "It’s not like someone’s targeting your friends and family, is it?" You’ll know it’s her because she’ll smell faintly of kitty litter and creeping thyme and because when you don’t see her at the graveside service no one you ask will remember such a lady. 
         After that you’ll rent an apartment in the city. Let a year pass and then another. Wear your father’s fedora. Fail at your relationships. Go out for drinks with friends you hate. Watch them plummet into marriage, gain weight, and post pictures of their ugly kids. Unfriend them. Go out for drinks alone. On the New Year’s Eve following your parents’ murder suicide, get drunk on White Russians while playing nine-ball at Miller’s and go home with a car salesman named Dennis. Throw up from balconies. Make appointments with realtors, but don’t show up; develop a sense of irony, then dial the out-of-service numbers of childhood friends. 
         What will happen next is this: you’ll be eating eggs benedict at Mono Loco. Make sure it’s Sunday, that you’re sitting outside, that nobody loves you, that the edges of the sky are burnt orange. That’s when it will happen. If the conditions are right, you’ll feel that pustule of bother move in your gut.

-from "To Become Immortal" by Dr. Seth Clabough

Leave a Comment