"Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" is one of my favorite stories. I read it in One Story, which is an awesome journal that publishes, y'know, one story per issue, and each issue comes out every three weeks. It must feel really good to get a story in One Story--of everybody in the world, you're the only one who made it into that issue.
So it's a really consistently great publication, and Seth Fried's "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" is my favorite thing I've read in it. Apparently Mr. Fried has a collection of stories out, and "Frost Mountain" is in it. I will be needing to get that. The "Overview" of the book in the above-linked online book retailer's page for Fried's The Great Frustration mentions Steven Millhauser and George Saunders in the first sentence, which I think are two apt comparisons, and which I think explain why I like Fried's story so much. I would probably also include Kevin Brockmeier and Shirley Jackson in the mix. [KIND-OF-BUT-NOT-REALLY-SPOILER ALERT WHERE I PRETTY MUCH COVER THE WHOLE PLOT OF THE STORY BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER ALL THAT MUCH BECAUSE IT'S NOT REALLY A PLOT-DRIVEN STORY ANYWAY] "Frost Mountain" is a little perfect piece of magical realism (I'm almost certain about that, anyway, though it's been suggested once or twice that I'm not exactly perfectly clear about what is and isn't magical realism (but, again, I'm pretty sure "Frost Mountain" is in fact a model of magical realism (like, 90% sure))). It's about a town in which all the residents attend a yearly picnic--the Frost Mountain Picnic, in fact--where terrible shit is inflicted on them by a sort of governmental entity, and many of them are killed--like some kind of massacre. Some kind of picnic massacre, even. . . .
And they keep going back each year for various totally-recognizable-yet-totally-nonsensical reasons, and almost nobody seems happy about it, and that's kind of it.
Clever conceit, yeah. But, the details, though. The details are everything, and they pull together in just the right kind of wrong way. I was just thinking about "Frost Mountain" today, and it kind of aimlessly occurred to me to type it into Google. I came across this collage by a mixed-media/collage artist named Brandi Strickland:
It's titled "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre, and, as you can see a bit more clearly in the close up photos included on Ms. Strickland's page for the work itself, she gets the details down. I told her in a comment I left on her website that if I saw this collage without knowing anything about it I would've thought, "Hey! That looks like "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre!"
Because it really does.
There's more on the collage here. Apparently, it was featured in One Story's Literary Debutante Ball sometime around late 2010, and then it was auctioned off online. I should do more aimless Googling, I think.