Daily Short Story Diary - Week 20

May 18, 2019

Day 134: May 12, 2019

A COUNTRY KILLING by Annie Proulx

Heart Songs and Other Stories – 1988 (story added to updated edition, 1994)

General – 14 Pages

This one bounces around a bit more than the common Proulx, so that in itself is a fun surprise. It opens on some Jehovah’s Witnesses finding a dead body and pops back to the real beginning because dead bodies are the end of a story. Fully realized characters in full-bodied settings, could almost feel that country heat. Super engaging.

*****

 

Day 135: May 13, 2019

DOROTHY AND MY GRANDMOTHER AND THE SAILORS by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949

General – 6 Pages

This one is a bit of a comedy. Two girls are trained, or maybe it’s brainwashed, into fearing sailors. By the end, they’re wild with terror and it’s absolutely absurd. What a strange and fun little story. Great writing and easy to sink into.

****

 

Day 136: May 14, 2019

EVERY GOOD BOY TRIES by Lisa Marie Nohner

Automata Review – 2019

Horror – 3 Pages (about, digital)

Right from the first paragraph I can see the imprint of being a Stephen Graham Jones fan all over this story, could almost be pastiche. That aside, it’s pretty fun, has some atmosphere and purposefully vague areas that lend to a vibe of decay. I didn’t fully understand it by the end, but it seems like a story that’s meant to convey a feeling rather than tell something whole, in that, it succeeded…but it isn’t quite a story if a whole thing doesn’t happen. Not to me.

***

 

Day 137: May 15, 2019

A FRIEND IN PAGA by Brent Michael Kelley

Doomsday Furnace – 2019

Horror – 10 Pages (about, digital)

Oh so dark, this one is. The apocalypse has come and it’s an ozone-esque membrane that blocks out the sun, sends thoughts, shoots prison tendrils, and doesn’t let the folks of Earth sleep. This story is loads of fun in all the most horrid ways. The ending is a killer. Totally engaging.

*****

 

Day 138: May 16, 2019

ONE FOR THE BOOKS by Richard Matheson

Duel – 2003 (story originally published in Galaxy, 1952)

Science Fiction – 20 Pages

This one is a build-up to a punchline that could’ve gone one of a million ways, but went for a simple joke that really wasn’t funny (not by today’s standards). Remember that movie Phenomena with John Travolta? Same premise, just remove all the emotional stuff and the attempts at logic. One of the only stories in this collection that I haven’t like so far.

**

 

Day 139: May 17, 2019

THE LEGEND OF JOE LEE by John D. MacDonald

The Mists From Beyond – 1993 (story originally published in Cosmopolitan, 1964)

Horror – 11 Pages

These oldies are tough sometimes. You read and see the ghost car story so much from the cumulative then ‘til now and yawn, but maybe this was one of the first well done ones. No more ghost carriages in foggy England and Russia, you’ve got the American roadster, vroooom. So anyway, this is a fun look with great dialogue that builds cool, individual characters. The story is fast, but obvious (like I said, made in its time…), still pretty good nonetheless.

***

 

Day 140: May 18, 2019

NIGHTMARE IN YELLOW by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Horror – 3 Pages

This one is like taking a long breath. Build-up, build-up, build-up, wheeze. The ending, though it shifts from the obvious, isn’t a great payoff. Flash is all about the payoff (well, not all, every story needs to be well-written to be good) and this one just didn’t have the juice.

**

 

Favorite of the week was A FRIEND IN PAGA by Brent Michael Kelley.

 

 

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