Day 8: January 6, 2019
THE LONG SHADOW by Peter Turnbull
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine August 2012
Crime – 9 Pages
The premise of this story was intriguing: a man sees a stolen figurine in a shop window that he knows to be from robbery that ended in a double murder. After that bit of intrigue, this story slows into a police procedural with monologue-dialogue—just like on bad TV were every character waits their turn to speak. The man cop is designed to be unlikeable: a fellow who finds murders worse when they happen to professionals and then makes him feel sad when he has to arrest former criminals who’ve gone on to become straight professionals. In that point I guess it’s realistic and why pinning the tail on persons uninvolved with particular crimes happens so often if they more easily fit pre-determined outlines. All the criminals flip without effort, as if the author was in a rush to get through this heap. Boring, mediocre writing, flimsy characters.
Day 9: January 7, 2019
BROTHERS by Sherwood Anderson
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories – 2015 (story originally published in The Bookman in 1921)
General – 7 Pages
Remember in Crime and Punishment where you’re following along with the protagonist in this dreamy, hapless, almost repulsive state of dissatisfaction and then he hacks the old lady to bits with an axe? Maybe? Anyway, this story captures a similar vibe. Though, it being a short and nothing much coming before or after, you’re left with a bit of a wait a minute, mister feeling. The writing is poetically redundant and stylish. I’m not sure I’ve read anything quite like it.
Day 10: January 8, 2019
BICYCLES, MUSCLES, CIGARETTES by Raymond Craver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1963)
General – 12 Pages
It seems the only way to gauge Carver’s short stories against other short stories is set aside the wonderfully simple and inviting writing, the way he made the mundane readable, because it seems every Carver story I read gets full marks for the writing. So, with that stated, the plot of this one is a focussed one: Dad’s quitting smoking, son’s in trouble, Dad gets pushed and fistfights. The emotion in this seems realistically hysterical, especially at the end as children say absurd things. Good read, quick, inviting, and all that jazz.
Day 11: January 9, 2019
IMPOSTOR/IMPOSTOR by Ian Muneshwar
Black Static #65 (September-October 2018)
Horror – 12 Pages (about, digital)
Here is a story completely removed from reality. Assumedly wealthy people live in a home and make art and food with no contact with the world or the necessities of living in society: one-dimensional household to the extreme. The author uses dread to propel this horror tale, but there’s not much to fret about as the characters feel more like stage setting. It’s well written, but wholly lacking in any impact.
Day 12: January 10, 2019
THE NIGHT by Ray Bradbury
The Stories of Ray Bradbury – 1980 (story originally published in 1946 in Dandelion Wine)
General – 7 Pages
This is a suspenseful, fully Earth-based, real time-based, current science-based, tale about one boy being out much later than he ought to be on a hot summer night. Like most of the Bradbury stories I’ve read, this one is fairly vague on nitty-gritty details, but in a way that is a positive rather than a failing. As if while reading, between each line in invisible ink is PLACE PERSONAL EXPECTATION AND EXPERIENCE HERE. He was masterful at this aspect. As for the story on the whole, it’s compelling and quick and tugs at the right strings.
Day 13: January 11, 2019
THE DAEMON LOVER by Shirley Jackson
The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949
General – 19 Pages
This is a wildly engaging tale. A young woman is looking for her would-be husband all over town, asking uncaring locals for clues, and as a reader, you’re cringing at her haplessness. Very effective. The use of redundant action plays well too, gets you in rhythm of expectation and then the end (which I won’t talk about) comes at you sideways. This is one of those peanut butter stories, sticks to the ribs for a while.
Day 14: January 12, 2019
THE WHIPPING GIRLS by Damien Angelica Walters
Apex Magazine, Issue #110, July 2018 (originally published in Chiral Mad 3, 2016)
Fantasy – 14 Pages (about, digital)
Sick today so that might exacerbate my reaction to this one. So, a sad girl runs away from her life when her mother dies, but finds herself getting sadder along the way. The sadness is so full that it manifests itself into even sadder visages that make the girl more sad than she already was, which, if I hadn’t mentioned, was pretty sad. Sadly, sadness, even well-written sadness, doth not a good story make. This was a snoozer.
Simple for this week, the best was Shirley Jackson’s THE DAEMON LOVER.