Daily Short Story Diary - Week 22

June 1, 2019

Day 148: May 26, 2019

THIS IS DEATH by Donald Westlake

The Mists From Beyond – 1993 (originally published in The Thirteenth Ghost Book, 1977)

Horror – 13 Pages

First really great story of the anthology! A man hangs himself and has to linger with his body for the full reaction of his wife, while learning the truth behind what caused his desire to kill himself. It’s fantastic. Snarky, suspenseful, surprising, and scary. This story really is something.

*****

 

Day 149: May 27, 2019

CAREFUL by Raymond Carver

Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1981)

General – 13 Pages

The semi-disjointed family is a recurring theme in much of Carver’s stuff, but it’s rarely the point of the story, which is part of the reason these stories work so well. So anyway, this one’s more textural than many of his things, describing the qualities of earwax and ear canals…fun stuff. It’s quick and engaging and ultimately a bit weird. The unravelling man is especially interesting.

****

 

Day 150: May 28, 2019

MISS GLORIA by Daniel H. Wilson

Guardian Angels & Other Monsters – 2018

Science Fiction – 32 Pages (about, digital)

I thought I’d try some new to me authors who get some good praise. Mostly, this story was a lot of redundancy and description. So there’s a robot whose consciousness survives even after the shell of his body dies during a kidnapping. He’s a babysitter and he trails his ward and her kidnappers, he doesn’t do much, but that doesn’t seem to matter as their numbers just keep on thinning out until it’s one guy. The emotional stuff works a little but mostly it doesn’t matter as the story is wholly without suspense because the characters are one dimensional. Still, kind of interesting and original.

***

 

Day 151: May 29, 2019

THE FIRST HUSBAND by Joyce Carol Oates

Give Me Your Heart – 2010 (originally appeared in Ellery Queen, 2008)

Crime – 32 Pages

Slow build with interesting characters, engaging story, but ultimately a bit lackluster in finale. My guess, JCO knows her fans know her and she built this story and had it concluding somewhere close to how Pumpkin-head concludes and was like shit, can’t do it the same way and kind of just fumbled off into the horizon. Cool beginning and middle, mediocre finale.

***

 

Day 152: May 30, 2019

BEATRICE by Karin Tidbeck

Jagannath – 2012

Fantasy – 12 Pages (digital, about)

So dude is in love with an airship and chick is in love with a woodstove or something. But the people aren’t crazy, the inanimate objects have consciousness. Nothing really happens of consequence aside from the girl being impregnated by the woodstove. The characters have zero development and the airship doesn’t like how it’s treated. Story’s like The Brave Little Toaster, but without anything happening and no uplifting struggle. This is the second I’ll try out a new author this week thought, and she’s pretty celebrated, though I can’t imagine why.

**

 

Day 153: May 31, 2019

SECOND CHANCE by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Science fiction – 2 Pages

Fun, post humanity flash story where robots replay World Series games. Not much to it, but it was a cool enough idea with a good delivery.

***

 

Day 154: June 1, 2019

BUT AT MY BACK I WILL ALWAYS HEAR by David Morrell

The Mists From Beyond – 1993

Horror – 15 Pages

This is a fun one, but a tad rushed after the opening. There’s a bit of the I felts going on too, which always comes off as clumsy to me. That said, the suspense is great and the idea is lots of fun.

****

 

Favorite of the week was THIS IS DEATH by Donald Westlake.

 

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