Day 99: April 7, 2019
THE CHARLES DICKENS MYSTERY by W. Edward Blain
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine November 2012
Mystery – 10 Pages
A man has five minutes to prove his innocence, a seasoned trope of the genre. When done well, it’s an exciting surprise. When done poorly, it’s outright stupid nonsense. This one is mostly good. There is one character who suddenly gives up a ruse two seconds after denying it, but she’s not really of great consequence to the crime or solving the mystery, so, mostly a pass. Intriguing with an expected outcome—pretty much—but enough twists in PoV reasoning to keep it interesting.
Day 100: April 8, 2019
A HANDFUL OF EARTH by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Humanity of Monsters – 2015
Fantasy – 10 Pages (about, digital)
This one reads like you’re listening to someone tell a campfire story, but in the daylight. And that’s the problem, it’s all telling. No atmosphere, no suspense, not even any great reveals. Flowery prose has to pull the weight of little substance...and to this fella—common as dirt as I am—flowers are just highfalutin weeds.
Day 101: April 9, 2019
SISTERS by Brian Evenson
Haunted Nights – 2017
Horror – 12 Pages
This one has a bit of a silly edge, which is pretty unusual for a Datlow anthology. Unspecified entities decide to celebrate Halloween inside a porch scarecrow (I think?) and end up being seen. There’s a bit of suspense due to the uncertainty and that as a reader you ought probably root against the things as they’ve invaded a block just like yours. The end has a fun little punch too.
Day 102: April 10, 2019
A RUN OF BAD LUCK by Annie Proulx
Heart Songs and Other Stories – 1988 (story originally published in Atlantic Monthly, 1987)
General – 12 Pages
The way Proulx paints this one really sticks you in the scene. As is her way often, a huge moment flashes (kind of how it does it real life) and then it’s gone and you’re there picking up the pieces. I had to re-read three particular paragraphs of the last two pages to fully gather what exactly had happened. It’s a bee sting right to the chest.
Day 103: April 11, 2019
CHARLES by Shirley Jackson
The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949 (story originally published in Mademoiselle, 1948)
General – 5 Pages
This is a fun one, though I had it pegged pretty well from the first go. Essentially, this one bases around the blindness of parents. It’s a subject I can get behind in a big way because I don’t have kids and kids often look rotten to me and I find myself wondering what kind of shit heads the parents are.
Day 104: April 12, 2019
ARE THESE ACTUAL MILES? By Raymond Carver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1976)
General – 11 Pages
Man, Carver can really cut into the meat of the hapless everyman. This one is another Carver where the woman has to step in for the man to get the job done right. Has to sell the car, send the saleswoman wife...and what a finale. This story is fantastic, really biting.
Day 105: April 13, 2019
UPSIDE DOWN by Suzan St Maur
The Second Book of Corona Horror Stories – 2018
Horror – 6 Pages
This is more of a crime story, but the title of the book has Horror Stories in it, so I’ll go with the intent. Anyway, this one starts in a really cool way, doubly cool if you don’t really think about the titles of stories, as I tend not to. The story carries on and there’s not a great build up to any of the reveals and the finale is pretty flippant, and obvious, mega obvious. It comes out to being a simple revenge tale of little consequence.
Favorite of the week was another Raymond Carver, ARE THESE ACTUAL MILES?