Daily Short Story Diary - Week 25
Day 169: June 16, 2019
CHEF’S HOUSE by Raymond Carver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1981)
General – 5 Pages
A couple stories in a row in this huge collection have dealt with drying out. They’re so raw and realistic and sad (makes sense, given the man’s life and his own quitting drinking). This one is a too common reality in real life: you’re in the shit, some tiny thread of hope comes up so you latch on, but it a bust and you’re just as fucked as if you hadn’t done all that work to better yourself. Great story painted in the hues of everyday life.
Day 170: June 17, 2019
PIGEON FEATHERS by John Updike
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories – 2015 (story originally published in The New Yorker, 1962)
General – 17 Pages
This was a pretty fucking roundabout way to getting to the point of a boy finding god in the designs on a nuisance bird’s feathers. Mostly boring. Would’ve been kind of great, probably, if it was mostly just the dialogue, everything else was just wind.
Day 171: June 18, 2019
STRIP POKER by Joyce Carol Oates
Give Me Your Heart – 2010 (story originally published in Dead Man’s Hand, 2007)
Crime – 26 Pages
Man, when JCO nails a story, she really nails it. Using the reckless ignorance of an innocent, underage girl, all that needed to happen in this story was the kind of thing that is all too normal. So, immature fourteen-year-old finds herself drunk and playing strip poker with men, twenty-somethings, in a cottage…but that conclusion, I did not see it coming and damn, damn, damn. This is up there on the list of my favorite JCO stories.
Day 172: June 19, 2019
GOOD INTENTIONS by Michael Z. Lewin
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine November 2012
Crime – 23 Pages
This one opens on an odd string of thought and pretty much follows that route for the whole sum of its pages. Comedic pulp, witty and weird dialogue, with one truly strange character and then a P.I. and his cop daughter who set out to uncover what went down. It’s fun and funny.
Day 173: June 20, 2019
TYRANT by Matt Brady
Tyrant – 2019
Horror – 8 Pages (about, digital)
Were this someplace other than my short story diary, I’d let this one be without a peep. I’ve been trying to mix up what I read for these stories, so I hopped on Amazon and grabbed two freebie shorts. This was the first. Matt Brady is obviously fairly new to writing fiction. Thankfully it was grammatically sound and structured in a way that was readable. That’s all it has going for it. This story is not a story at all, it’s a description with a wildly tepid punchline. Imagine this: Pinhead hooks your face or something and you can’t move and he goes on to describe his kingdom in wildly redundant detail for like ten minutes straight, meanwhile you’re like in pain and asking is this going anywhere? The answer is no. There’s also borderline misogyny that I think stems from experience in the horror genre without acknowledging the troublesome aspects—think movies and books written even twenty years ago and the flippant assumption that the readership will be male, or at least the important readership. All that said, you have to start somewhere, so if the author is Googling his name and stumbles onto this, in the future, make sure something happens in the stories you write. Describing something is not a story. But keep going.
Day 174: June 21, 2019
THE MAN UPSTAIRS by Del Henderson III
The Man Upstairs – 2019
Horror – 10 Pages
This is the second Amazon freebie, and while I’ll keep looking for new authors, I won’t blindly wander into the freebies again. Though this one was better than the last, it was still plenty rough. The dialogue was clunky as hell and the plot was obvious. That said, there was foreshadowing, which I don’t take for granted, especially in what I’m guessing is an author still in the learning stages. I suppose, just like yesterday’s story, if the author bumps into this diary post, keep on keeping on.
Day 175: June 22, 2019
ALL CHANGE by Ray Cluley
Probably Monsters – 2015 (story originally published in Black Static, 2012)
Horror – 11 Pages
This is one of those stories where you’re not quite sure if you should trust the point of view until the fog clears. It’s a simple idea and delivered with in fun reveal with big ramifications. Well-written, but not especially so (when comparing against some other Cluley tales). I think the biggest downfall was that there’s nothing to connect to the old man, so who cares what happens to him?
Favorite of the week was STRIP POKER by JCO.