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Daily Short Story Diary - Week 39


Day 267 Sep 22, 2019

A SMALL NORTHERN INHERITANCE by Mark Rigney

Cemetery Dance Issue #77 – 2019

Fantasy – 6 Pages

That one’s a little more along the Cemetery Dance lines of yore. A bit silly and a bit freaky, pretty fun. The switching of points of view and voice really worked well in this one. It reached scads beyond the prior few stories in this issue simply because it had any voice at all. Could’ve gone darker, raised the stakes some, but still entertaining and well-written.

****

Day 268 Sep 23, 2019

UNCLE by Stephen Graham Jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off – 2014 (story originally published in Ghosts: Recent Hauntings, 2012)

Horror – 15 Pages

Oooh, man, this one was fantastic. It works because the characters are layered and realistic, the world is everyday. Anyway, SGJ absolutely sets a ghost story table here perfectly, great atmosphere, great oddities and uncanniness. It also had a bit of a red herring for me as I’d come to expect the obvious from all the shit coming to the lead character’s door. The ending hit like a good slap.

*****

Day 269 Sep 24, 2019

CATHEDRAL by Raymond Carver

Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in Cathedral, 1981)

General – 19 Pages

This one deviates a bit from the every-man kind of stories a little by adding a blind person (I know there are tons of blind people, but it isn’t the average and so it isn’t the Carver norm). It has most of the other traits though: male insecurity on display, fantastic dialogue, realistically flawed characters, and monotony spelled out. It’s interesting enough and well-written, but doesn’t pack a great deal of punch, I mean, maybe if buddy refused to draw with the blind man and got into a hubbub about it, had to deal with his wife, created a little friction, et cetera…

***

Day 270 Sep 25, 2019

THE LONG HOLIDAY by William Ellis

Borderlands 4 – 1994

Horror – 7 Pages

Interesting enough, I suppose. This one begins with a flurry of action, running, running, running in first person. There’s no pre-amble and no real attachment to the world I live in, not until the grand reveal, where, strangely, it’s Santa Claus, he kind of centers it, grounds it. A little fun. Bleak. Fast.

***

Day 271 Sep 26, 2019

THE HUM by Rick Hautala

Glimpses – 2013 (story originally published in Man vs. Machine, 2007)

Horror – 8 Pages

This one has an interesting premise that mounts bit by bit throughout. People are being driven nuts by a hum. It’s pretty basic, the reveal ending is pretty fantastic and unexpected, but there’s a sloppiness to this one that’s unusual for Hautala stories, like this could’ve used another polishing round. Redundant wording being the main issue. On the whole, it was all right. Dude was a master, but this isn’t one of his masterworks.

***

Day 272 Sep 27, 2019

HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE by Rivka Galchen

The New Yorker – 2019

General – 2 Pages (about, digital)

This was a fun little story. My only beef was the general public book club the author described was a MFA class or something and she called it the usual discussion, as if the general public breaking down their book in scholarly English terminology is usual. Aside from that, this story is pretty great that I won’t get into much in case people want to look it up and read it free online, it’s only a flash after all. It has a good hook ending that, thanks to length, I didn’t have time to see coming. Engaging and spooky.

****

Day 273 Sep 28, 2019

THE ENCAMPMENT BY THE GORGE by Zachary Ashford

The Encampment by the Gorge & Blood Memory – 2019

Horror – 26 Pages (about, digital)

This one’s like a Jules Verne story on steroids, one of the ones where good Christian heroes find themselves among mystical and savage natives. The lines are blurred some as new world progress encroaches on old world land and magic, but that’s kind of the just of it. It’s probably the type of story railroad workers told around the campfire when they were mapping land so come morning, they could justify anything in the name of progress. Or like that island where the mostly untouched Aboriginal tribe killed that Christian missionary. It really reminded me of some cool stories I’ve read over the years where the terrifying unknown lets bloom terror. It’s nasty and full of strange and fantastical horrors. It’s loaded with suspense. Very engaging.

*****


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