Day 120: April 28, 2019
THE MONSTER by William Quincy Belle
The Second Book of Corona Horror Stories – 2018
Horror – 8 Pages (about, digital)
A monster under the bed. It’s been done, sure, but there’s always room for new takes. This one doesn’t go how I’d anticipated as I read, so that’s good. It hooks hard left, which is usually good, too, if it’s foreshadowed and logical. There is no logic here and the follow through was pretty clumsy as the author explained everything that put a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, instead of leaving easy to read breadcrumbs. Also, there’s a transformation that just happens for the convenience of the story, here’s the biggest, aforementioned logic issue. Mostly, it wasn’t good, but not coming to the obvious end is worth something.
Day 121: April 29, 2019
THE TURN by Paul Kane
Haunted Nights – 2017
Horror – 17 Pages
This one is a bit slow to start, much mulling over existence and purpose. It’s really the only downfall of this story, which again makes me wonder if there was a very word count for the call of this anthology—twice now, very good stories feel a touch padded up with explanation. Once it gets rolling, this one really sucks you in. Tons of natural suspense propped up by expertly drawn-out action. Built on a fun idea too, turning or not turning at a sound coming from behind.
Day 122: April 30, 2019
THE WER-TROUT by Annie Proulx
Heart Songs and Other Stories (story originally appeared in Harrowsmith, 1982)
General – 15 Pages
Maybe not general fiction…ah! This is now one of my favorite Proulx stories. Here, you also get a double gasp and a laugh (not in that order, instead: gasp-laugh-gasp). Down and out, neighbors go fishing in the bog and the more down and more out man falls further and further until he’s not really a man at all. So fucking good. Having three strong payoffs in fifteen pages really is a feat.
Day 123: May 1, 2019
SPLIT/BRAIN by Joyce Carol Oates
Give Me Your Heart – 2010 (story original published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 2008)
Crime – 6 Pages
This is one of those try to keep up stories (which isn’t entirely possible in the moment, the PoV doesn’t allow it by design) and uses this method of uncertainty to double-tap suspense after a lulling open. JCO is masterful here and this one absolute gets the heart thumping.
Day 124: May 2, 2019
THE FIRST LUNAR HALLOWEEN by John R. Little
Haunted Nights – 2017
Horror – 14 Pages
This one has pretty hokey, one-dimensional characters in a bit of an inexplicable setting. Reminded me a bit of an R.L. Stein Goosebumps. A bit sci-fi—though none of the science is explained—this one uses ignorance as a lynchpin…did they do all that? was that really what Halloween was like? It has suspense and it was engaging.
Day 125: May 3, 2019
BOYFRIEND AND SHARK by Berit Ellingsen
The Humanity of Monsters – 2015
Fantasy – 3 Pages (about, digital)
If ever there was a more thinly veiled metaphor, I don’t want to read it. A smothery guy wakes up and his not-exactly-boyfriend has become a shark and he eventually has to let him go. Sorry that’s so spoilery, but shit… Now, had the shark been of any consequence to the story, I’m totally for a dude becoming a shark in the middle of the night and going through some shit, like oh man, I can finally eat this cereal with the gluten in it because I’m a shark instead of a hipster (in the story, the man who becomes a shark only like shit like specialty ox and mermaid meat or whatever), and oh no! Chinese pirates are trying to get my fins for soup! Gets two stars because at no point did I find the actual writing iffy.
Day 126: May 4, 2019
NIGHTMARE IN WHITE by Fredric Brown
Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961
Horror – 2 Pages
This is a silly little story. The finale is a simple punchline that’s gross in thought, but I don’t know, maybe it’s the difference in time, I doubt the relations that occur would today, like one side would know and probably not keep it going. Fun enough though, and concise as it gets.
Too tough to choose, so double favorite for the week THE WER-TROUT by Annie Proulx and SPLIT/BRAIN by Joyce Carol Oates.