Day 15: January 13, 2019
GUNPOWDER ALLEY by Bill Pronzini
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine August 2012
Crime – 25 Pages
At the opening of this one, I expected to dislike it. There’s a private detective, a patrol cop, and a gunshot in the night. I would say better than half the time that amounts to Yawn City, population ME. But, but, but, this one unravelled in a locked room mystery with what should’ve been a simple and obvious answer only discovered in hindsight due to the skillset of the culprit. The ending was great too, not especially happy or conclusive, but fitting and with a fun bit of dialogue. This one was engaging, methodical, and offered an honest rise at the corners of my mouth upon completion.
Day 16: January 14, 2019
FATHER, SON, HOLY RABBIT by Stephen Graham Jones
The Ones That Got Away – 2010 (story originally published in Cemetery Dance, 2007)
Horror – 7 Pages
Well, shit. Does a reveal get better than that? The length is perfect too, any longer and I might’ve had time to suspect something, anything, but the truth only came to me right when intended. Everything is right about this story: the language, the pacing, the suspense, the thrill of it.
Day 17: January 15, 2019
LIKE MOTHER USED TO MAKE by Shirley Jackson
The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949
General – 11 Pages
This one creeps on you. As it seems to have been with Jackson’s stories, they’re usually not quite horrific or even scary, but wildly unsettling. This ones hums along and the routine is a bit boring until the reality of what’s about to happen sets in, and then it sets in and you’re going ah shit, that’s terrible, do something, do something! Excellent story, quietly impactful.
Day 18: January 16, 2019
HOMECOMING by Ray Bradbury
The Stories of Ray Bradbury – 1980 (story originally published in Mademoiselle, 1946)
Fantasy – 9 Pages
This is a reread for me. Five or six or seven years ago I read From the Dust Returned. I didn’t care much for it, everything was so childish and hinting at morals (granted, nothing like mind your parents or eat your vegetables, more like don’t be a shit head, people can be different). This story fits along those lines, flipping the norm from daylight being good and safe to the opposite, reinforcing the right to non-conforming interests. It’s an okay story, but doesn’t have a great deal of emotional pull or fantastical imagery. It’s kind of like if Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer had a better ending, like instead of him letting his nose be used by the other reindeer, he struck out on his own, went solo, and had a bunch of hit singles. This story doesn’t get that far, but that’s what I assume the little non-flying, non-blood-sucking boy got up to in his adolescence.
Day 19: January 17, 2019
SRL AD by Richard Matheson
Duel – 2003 (story originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1952)
Science Fiction – 10 Pages
A story in letters and want ads about a Venus gal looking for an Earth mate. The premise is pure cheese, but the story worked out to be pretty fun, even funny. The Venus gal’s writing reminded of emails from the King of Nigeria who is trying to move to America and send me money (I don’t have the heart to tell him I’m in Canada and can’t help) and emails from pals like Mrs. Mary Parker who want to give me a job, or love, or simply need the help of a strong Christian man. The follow through of the story is quick and oh so silly.
Day 20: January 18, 2019
UNION FALLS by J.S. Breukelaar
Collision: Stories – 2019 (story originally published in Fantasy Magazine, 2011)
Fantasy – 18 Pages (about, digital)
Tack enough off-kilter items together and general fiction becomes fantasy. I suppose. An armless piano player from out of nowhere dazzles a crowd and helps heel a woman. The emotion seemed a bit forced and I was more than a bit confused and looking for meaning. Well-written, but if there was a big point to how it played out, I must’ve missed something, though it was not without entertainment.
Day 21: January 19, 2019
THE WICKED TONGUE by Elise Levine
The Walrus – 2019
Literary – 3 Pages
A handful of years ago I read the goofiest ass book in the world. It was titled The English Patient. The author wanted to write a long poem, but wanted novel money (probably why), so he made every fifth sentence a complete thought, like when you’ve had the flu and you’re on the can farting out diarrhea but once in a while something solid shoots free. This story was told in that style. Example, and this is an entire paragraph, so nothing before or after to hint to: “Next day, old crow from the night before, with a big steaming pot.” Big steaming pot indeed. If I go to the paragraph prior it’s about a rock, blocking waves on a cold night. A line break follows, so no help there. I didn’t see any other mention of an old crow. Suppose maybe...avoid most Canadian literary fiction?
Favorite of the week was Stephen Graham Jones' FATHER, SON, HOLY RABBIT.