June 10, 2013

Crime-Fiction Issue: "Slide to Unlock"

By Ed Park
~1100 words

A man contemplates the logic behind his many cyber passwords.

Most of the sentences in the story explain the logic behind one password or another: "Your daughter's name backward plus the year of her birth" or "Your daughter's best friend's name backward" or "The girl at work backward and lowercase plus last two digits of current year." Every once in a while the flow is interrupted by a two-word sentence in italics: Stop stalling. Only in the last paragraph is it revealed why the protagonist is rehearsing his passwords in this manner.

I liked the premise of this piece, but I have a few objections. First, I don't find second-person narratives convincing when they are really just a substitute for first-person. If there is a good reason—shame or psychological remoteness, for example—for the narrator to distance himself, the second-person can be effective (Junot Díaz's "Miss Lora" and "The Cheater's Guide to Love" come to mind in this regard). But I don't see the justification here; instead it feels like a phony attempt at suspense. Second, the transition into the last section feels artificial for me and, to some extent, defies the general logic of the narrative in order to set up an O. Henry ending.

Though not without flaws, "Slide to Unlock" is an entertaining story built on a unique premise to which we can all relate.


Also from the crime-fiction issue: "Brotherly Love," "Scenes of the Crime," "Happy Trails," "Rough Deeds," "An Inch and a Half of Glory."


  1. How does this even qualify as a short story?

    1. Well, it's more of a story than "Thirteen Wives." At least something happens.