Daily Short Story Diary - Week 19
Day 127: May 5, 2019
VITAMINS by Raymond Carver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1981)
General – 18 Pages
This one’s like a time capsule. It shines a light on a scene that’s off-putting and dated, does so with full discomfort on display. From a historic view, it’s something I’ve never read before. Great character and scene structuring. Interesting and engaging.
Day 128: May 6, 2019
THE SACRIFICE by A.H. Sargeant
The Second Book of Corona Horror Stories – 2018
Horror – 5 Pages (about, digital)
I guess if you’re going to go in on telling rather than showing, might as well go all the way in. This reads like a campfire tale or reading something in the newspaper, at no point, as a reader, are you in the moment. It seemed like a lot of build-up to get to the moment, but there really wasn’t a moment, simply a final sentence that referred to the opening sentence like a thought completed. It wasn’t bad, but being outside looking in made for zero suspense or surprise.
Day 129: May 7, 2019
ELECTRIC ARROWS by Annie Proulx
Heart Songs and Other Stories – 1988
General – 15 Pages
The portrait of a hapless farming family who see their property dwindle over the years thanks to bad decisions and bad timing. It’s funny and human. It’s not the most compelling or entertaining of the collection, but it is engaging and has good punchline moments.
Day 130: May 8, 2019
THE TEST by Richard Matheson
Duel – 2003 (story originally appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1954)
Science Fiction – 21 Pages
It’s incredible to think about, but not so far back to a good ways back, stories had to have plots and motivations and things happening. In every story. Nothing slipped by on its flowery prose or acidic descriptions, everything had something happening. This is no different. It’s a heartfelt, human, and difficult story about moving on and surviving the twilight of a family member. There are a few spots where modern editors would’ve polished out some clunks (I know I would’ve), but it’s hardly a point here. The story is compelling and weighty and fantastic.
Day 131: May 9, 2019
CHUGGIE AND THE BOTTOMLESS WINE CASK by Brent Michael Kelley
Comedy – 20 Pages (about, digital)
This was my introduction to BMK’s character Chuggie (there are at least a couple books with Chuggie as the hero). He’s a bit of an oddball superhero, maybe not hero, but he has a superpower…when he’s thirsty, he drinks it ALL, from the moisture in someone’s body to the water in the sea. It’s absurd and loaded with half-thought and half-nonsensical one-liners. The story is weirdly compelling and wholly entertaining.
Day 132: May 10, 2019
NIGHTMARE IN BLUE by Fredric Brown
Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961
Horror – 2 Pages
This one’s mostly obvious, in a flash story it sometimes happens like that, but it has a great jab finale. It’s fast, engaging, and offers the suitable little thrill.
Day 133: May 11, 2019
THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS by Philip Roth
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories – 2015 (story originally published in The Paris Review, 1959)
General – 14 Pages
I really dug this one. I’ve attempted theological conversations about contradictory religious ideology that have never gone anywhere, they’d always ended in a smug smile and the individuals (no doubt pitying me) suggesting it was faith. Even when it wasn’t about faith, it was about one point contradicting another. Essentially, that’s what this one’s about, but the heroic boy raised the stakes high enough that faith was not a strong enough safety net and the faithful needed to face the rules of their own religious design. Oh what fun! Funny, compelling, and quick.
Favorite of the week was THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS by Philip Roth.