Day 36: February 3, 2019
TRIAL BY COMBAT by Shirley Jackson
The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949 (story originally published in The New Yorker, 1944)
General – 6 Pages
Being ladylike must’ve been quite trying, particularly when someone is stealing from you and decorum—I guess?—dictates you can’t do anything about it. This story grabs a pretty loose bit of emotional thread and gives it a slight tug, but not much more than that. Well-written and interesting and infuriating—for the main character—from the historical sense.
Day 37: February 4, 2019
HOME AGAIN by Jeff Gelb
Fear Itself – 1995
Thriller – 10 Pages
This one opens on a corker of a horrific idea: son calls his dad from summer camp to say he’s been pricked by a needle (and this was the mid-nineties, so AIDS worry was tenfold in general, but simply pricked by a needle...boy). Then this thing unravels into a psychological maze. Dude packed quite a bit into about three thousand words. Clean writing. Good pacing. Nice and twisty.
Day 38: February 5, 2019
GLOW by J.S. Breukelaar
Collision: Stories – 2019
Fantasy – 15 Pages (about, digital)
Though the obviousness of the Trump situation has become blatant to all (some were a bit slow on the uptake and others will never admit their wrongness), this story pushes forward by making the point obvious to an extreme. The alien immigrants are planetary aliens. This story read like an angry breath expelled, but was very on the nose and had zero nuance. Still, it was a compelling read and ended quickly enough not to belabor the points made.
Day 39: February 6, 2019
UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Michael Garrett
Fear Itself – 1995
Thriller – 9 Pages
I once did an interview with former bigwig at Hollinger who’d been hired by the soon to be convicted criminals, Conrad Black and David Radler. This guy worked at Hollinger for a couple years and then one day he was told he had to start firing people and cancelling newspapers (because the guys stealing money were pussies and couldn’t do it themselves). So he did this and the Canadian newspaper industry shrank significantly in a matter of months. It was already falling apart, but shit just crumbled (this was during W. Bush’s war on the economy and Canada’s finances are pretty well stuck to America’s finances, yee-haw). So after dude fired all these people and closed all these publications, Black and Radler fired him. Like minutes after, if I recall correctly. That’s what this story’s about, and it’s got about two possibilities for conclusion, so it wasn’t entirely predictable (written many years before the Hollinger bullshit, but I guess this kind of thing is endless), but the author didn’t take it far enough. Still, it had suspense and was well enough written, so pretty good.
Day 40: February 7, 2019
THE TRIAL FOR MURDER by Charles Dickens
The Mists From Beyond – 1993 (story originally published in All the Year Round, 1865)
Horror – 11 Pages
Tough to rate stuff from way-way back against modern writing. Everything is stiff and stuffy, even in telling ghost stories. So often they start with now, this tale I’m about to tell you...and this one follows that route. Meandering and dull. It goes on and on. It has a pretty cool idea though: one dude can see ghosts and anyone he touches has the temporary misfortune of doing the same. One bonus star because I’m so out of touch reading classics, it might’ve soured me to an unjust point.
Day 41: February 8, 2019
THEY’RE NOT YOUR HUSBAND by Raymond Carver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please, 1963)
General – 8 Pages
Either things were wildly different back then or... Dude tells his wife to go on a diet and she does (doesn’t even beat him over the face with a hairdryer or something). Somehow, that in itself is wildly engrossing, like her trying to lose weight and him tabulating and telling her not to listen to anybody else because he’s her husband (but he’s told her to diet because of what some businessmen said when she bent over, ha!). He’s weirdly moody and it’s almost become his job to track his wife’s weight. Strange and strangely entertaining.
Day 42: February 9, 2019
JERUSALEM’S LOT by Stephen King
Night Shift – 1978
Horror – 35 Pages
I hadn’t had a five star story to start any day this week (though I reread Lonegan’s Luck by Stephen Graham Jones and listened to The Blue Air-Compressor by Stephen King, both huge five star stories...though not my morning stories). So, I decided to go with a sure thing and cracked open the greatest collection of short stories ever written (fucking fight me on this, I’m crazy about this book, I’ll carve your eyes out with a plastic spoon). The collection begins with this Lovecraft and Richard Matheson homage and boy howdy is it good. I’ve read this one a handful of times now and it still hits all the right notes. Creepy, scary, suspenseful.
No favorite of the week because Jerusalem's Lot was a ringer and I'd pin it against most of anything I've read in the last six weeks.