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Daily Short Story Diary - Week 16


Day 106: April 14, 2019

HEART SONGS by Annie Proulx

Heart Songs and Other Stories – 1988 (story originally published in Ploughshares, 1986)

General – 13 Pages

This one’s a little different from most of the Proulx stories I’ve read. It’s country, and backwoods, but it’s about an interloper musician, though he’s more of a slacker/drifter type than anything. I usually don’t care much for music stories. I find band members, how they’re written at least, to be obnoxious and boring, that said, this story really has nothing to do with the band and they aren’t obnoxious, they’re more like warning signs next to the swimming hole where the protagonist is treading. The conclusion is pure fun and I laughed aloud at the one-two punch about a page from the ending.

*****

Day 107: April 15, 2019

AFTERNOON IN LINEN by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949 (story originally published in New Yorker, 1943)

General – 5 Pages

This one’s a bit middle of the road. A grandmother tries to use a child to impress another grandmother (maybe just mother, I don’t recall). The child decides to mind her social standing with a peer rather than her standing at home. It’s kind of fun and while it lacks any kind of suspense or punch, it’s short enough to get away on the merits of great writing.

***

Day 108: April 16, 2019

DISTANCE by Raymond Carver

Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in Furious Seasons, 1977)

General – 9 Pages

Near the end, one characters says something like it’s not much of a story, I know, and the other says, I was interested, and this pretty much sums up how this one goes. Carver writes the mundane into interesting with smooth conversational prose (prose makes me sound pretentious, but I already used the word writing in this sentence) and characters who have to make small decisions. Also, this was an accidental reread. I was a page in before I realized I already read it, probably in the last calendar year.

****

Day 109: April 17, 2019

ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT by Elise Forier Edie

Haunted Nights – 2017

Horror – 17 Pages

This one’s a bit of historic fiction and plays heavily on the is it or isn’t it supernatural? I figured I knew, but there was enough going on that maybe, just maybe I was wrong. Fun imagery, nasty and grimy. There’s a bit of suspense and wonder. Good writing and good pacing.

****

Day 110: April 18, 2019

REBOUND by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Horror – 3 Pages

Flash, done right, is some powerful stuff. This one builds and delivers in under three pages. I had an inclining of how it would go, just not the vehicle. One of those sinister grin finishes. Fredric Brown had the talent when it came to the short stuff (not saying he didn’t have it with long stuff, I’ve just never read any of it). This story is really great.

*****

Day 111: April 19, 2019

BEAUTY by Rubem Fonseca

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine November 2012

Crime – 3 Pages

This one’s a nasty little tale about murder and the mental game a murderer must play to do people a favor by killing them. Kind of fun. Super quick.

***

Day 112: April 20, 2019

GIVE ME YOUR HEART by Joyce Carol Oates

Give Me Your Heart – 2010 (story originally published in Dangerous Women, 2005)

Crime – 14 Pages

A crime story where the crime is written between the lines and only impending. A woman sends an ex-lover a letter and demands his heart (literally, he has a living will and wants to donate organs upon death). She does not reveal her name, but instead unspools her emotions and the memories of their affair. It’s pretty fun, a comeuppance piece, or just a piece about a deranged woman, either way, agreeable journey. Though it was missing a punch near the end.

***

Favorite of the week was REBOUND by Fredric Brown.


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