Daily Short Story Diary - Week 10

March 10, 2019

Day 64: March 3, 2019

WHAT’S IN ALASKA by Raymond Carver

Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1972)

General – 15 Pages

High foursome ramble how high people ramble. There’s a rhythm to the dialogue in this one, like everyone’s playing a game, but they’re not, they’re just high. Kind of funny, but more intriguing because I don’t think it’s changed much (aside from the middle-aged years being a little older than in 1972, back when you got to die right after you retired). I really liked this one, Carver is the master of the mundane snapshot and this is a fine, strange, layered offering.

*****

 

Day 65: March 4, 2019

A FLICKER OF LIGHT ON DEVIL’S NIGHT by Kate Jonez

Haunted Nights – 2017

Horror – 13 Pages

Hoo boy, this one has all kinds of atmosphere and tension. Danger lurks around every corner and this woman isn’t prepared for the task. Kind of an urban near-apocalypse idea, think Robocop-ish stuff, where everything is dirty and the world rides chaotic whims of the local youth. Then again, maybe it’s not that bad and the woman is so unprepared her POV is untrustworthy (I really don’t know, doesn’t matter which). There’s a pretty clever red herring introduced early in this one, which really keeps eyes off the finale until it’s too late. I very, very, very, very much dig that when it’s done properly.

*****

 

Day 66: March 5, 2019

LITTLE GIRL LOST by Richard Matheson

Duel – 2003 (story originally published in Amazing Stories, 1953)

Science Fiction – 14 Pages

Right away I felt I knew this story some and it wasn’t until about two thirds of the way that I remembered. So, this one became a Twilight Zone episode, but then spawned a Treehouse of Horror segment on The Simpsons, which is where I knew it from. Here however is a mostly humorless story (there is a one-liner that is past its prime at the end) full of suspense and engaging characters and huge imagination.

*****

 

Day 67: March 6, 2019

SMOKE GHOST by Fritz Leiber

The Mists From Beyond – 1993 (story originally published in 1941)

Horror – 15 Pages

This story might be one of those early bridges between the gothic ghost story writers and the modern horror. The time kind of fits and you’ve got the gothic, but then you have the full brimming monstrous, leaning even into a cosmic embodiment (a god or a demon...what’s the difference?) of evil hounding a man, getting closer and closer until the evil thing shows a better hint of its power. Suspenseful and atmospheric.

****

 

Day 68: March 7, 2019

ACTING ON A TIP by Barbara Arno Modrack

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July 2012

Crime – 9 Pages

This one has a bit of potential. You’ve got a washed out, alcoholic reporter trying to get his life together, and then the murders of people around town. The thought of potential, it really only comes up when a story flops. The thing unfolds mostly disconnected from the characters and contains zero red herrings. The killer is presented early and singularly as a bit of a nut and then about halfway through it is revealed who the dead are leaving only one possibility. One that I can’t imagine how it got into magazine with such a pointless storyline.

**

 

Day 69: March 8, 2019

THE WITCH by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949

General – 5 Pages

This might be the first Shirley Jackson story I’ve read that centers around fun. A woman and he kids are in a train car and a bored man enters, sits down, and starts talking about chopping up a family member. I suppose the intent might’ve been to feel aghast for the woman and he kids, but I really felt this one from the angle, and it’s a pretty funny thing.

*****

 

Day 70: March 9, 2019

ONE FOR THE ROAD by Stephen King

Night Shift – 1979 (story originally published in Maine Magazine, 1977)

Horror – 15 Pages

I didn’t have it in me to be let down by my morning read, so I reread this one, a Jerusalem’s Lot tale. Did the task, as it did the times before I’ve read it. A pretty close to perfect horror story.

*****

 

Favorite of the week (excluding the King ringer) was A FLICKER OF LIGHT ON DEVIL’S NIGHT by Kate Jonez.

 

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