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Daily Short Story Diary - Week 17


Day 113: April 21, 2019

THE THIRD THING THAT KILLED MY FATHER OFF by Raymond Carver

Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1963)

General – 14 Pages

Another accidental reread.

Oh, Dummy. This is a longish type story for Carver, but it follows the same kind of everyday folks as usual, having a bit of a hard time. This one veers harder than most and a murder actually happens. The dialogue is fantastic and realistically flawed. Even with a recent reread, this one had me hooked all the way (get it? because fishing).

*****

Day 114: April 22, 2019

SONNY’S BLUES by James Baldwin

100 Years of the Best American Short Stories – 2015 (story originally published in Partisan Review, 1958)

General – 29 Pages

This is a long (for a short), sad story about a junkie piano player from the point of view of a hurt and straight-laced brother. It painted a vivid picture of the hopelessness of the struggle, and then redoubled it by painting the hopelessness of the struggle when you have to get clean on top of it all. Intriguing and weighty and consuming, and pretty depressing.

****

Day 115: April 23, 2019

NIGHTMARE IN GRAY by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Horror – 2 Pages

Holy shit. I’ve never read a story of so few words pack such a surprising impact. It’s jarring. Absolutely wonderful.

*****

Day 116: April 24, 2019

FLOWER GARDEN by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949

General – 31 Pages

Some things never change. The racism and disgusting, generational social norms explored in this one could appear in a good many places today. Hell, just a few years ago I was living in the fuckhole town of North Battleford, Saskatchewan and a new gym opened there and my wife was driving past with a co-worker (another speech-pathologist, so educated, master’s degree and all that jazz) when my wife said she’d probably give the new place a try and the other woman said something about there being a lot of half-breeds in there. We did not stay in that fuckhole long, about ten months. Anyway, the story is engaging and infuriating and everyday suspenseful in that amazing Shirley Jackson way.

*****

Day 117: April 25, 2019

THE UNCLOUDED DAY by Annie Proulx

Heart Songs and Other Stories – 1988 (Story originally published in Esquire, 1985)

General – 11 Pages

This one’s a goddamned cityfolk are useless story, and usually I really, really dig them, but this one’s a bit flatter than others, the impact a little softer. Probably because this one head-on to the comedy, which was good for a snicker, no doubt, but without the other layers, it felt a little less than the Proulx gold standard. Still, by general standards of storytelling, this was still pretty good and presented characters with clear goals and viewpoints.

***

Day 118: April 26, 2019

KISSES, SUZI by Joanie Chevalier

The Second Book of Corona Horror Stories – 2018

Horror – 21 Pages (about, digital)

If I’d read this even a couple years ago I might’ve been annoyed. There was a glut of killer GPS stories for a while, but I haven’t read one in years now, so I didn’t have any pre-beef when the opening presented a too personal GPS unit. Anyway, this one is an absurd riot. It’s fast and funny and weird.

*****

Day 119: April 27, 2019

IN WINTER by Sonya Taffe

The Humanity of Monsters – 2015

Horror – 3 Pages (about, digital)

This isn’t so much a story as a description of a character and her love for a boy, set during a snowy wartimes landscape. Nothing really happens. The descriptions aren’t even heavy, they’re simply attempts to prop beauty rather than substance.

**

Favorite of the week was Fredric Brown’s NIGHTMARE IN GRAY, but he won last week too, so second was probably the one that had me grinning all the way through: KISSES, SUZI by Joanie Chevalier


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