Daily Short Story Diary - Week 23

June 8, 2019

Day 155: June 2, 2019

ELIZABETH by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949

General – 43 Pages

This one’s less about plot and more about a character existing in a situation she’s frustrated with. It’s pretty slow and the character is designed in an unlikeable light. Her looks are failing, her relationship with her business partner is a bust, and a pretty new girl has started in the office. This reads like a warning to move on before it’s too late and the rut you’re in is too deep to climb out of.

***

 

Day 156: June 3, 2019

GREAT LOST DISCOVERIES I by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Horror – 3 Pages

Doctor discovers a serum of invisibility so he quits his job and sets off to rape a woman who lives in part of the sultan’s harem. Jesus, it even reads like no harm no foul because she’d think it was the sultan since the room was dark. Fucking wild, and a good snapshot of the depth of inequality back when it was written. Gets three stars because it’s kind of funny in that dude gets his comeuppance and Brown wrote well.

***

 

Day 157: June 4, 2019

SUGAR RUSH by William Meikle

Bug Eyed Monsters – 2019

Horror – 20 Pages (about, digital)

A fun story about a taxman going to collect from a rotting sugar plantation. Meikle’s an everyman writer (which I mean as a compliment), which means his stuff is always accessible and easy to slide into. This one’s quick and textured with a follow through partly reminiscent of an Indiana Jones escapade.

***

 

Day 158: June 5, 2019

CINDERS OF A BLIND MAN WHO COULD SEE by Kev Harrison

Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See – 2019

Horror – 40 Pages (about, digital)

This one’s a take on the pagan ritual horror, think Wicker Man or Harvest Home. There’s a holy a tree and people enjoying the miracles that have sprung from its limbs, but for every miracle, there’s payment needed…dun-dun-duh. It’s got ups and downs, and the last few pages the suspense ratchets up noticeably.

***

 

Day 159: June 6, 2019

THE VOID IT OFTEN BRINGS WITH IT by Tom Piccirilli

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine November 2012

Crime – 10 Pages

Hoo boy! That was a fantastic story. A guy in his university course witnesses something that gets him the leg up and he exploits it. It’s told from a cold and nasty point of view with a literary lilt to the prose. The unravelling is perfectly paced and the payoff is great.

*****

 

Day 160: June 7, 2019

RUNNING OUT OF DOG by Dennis Lehane

Coronado – 2006 (story originally published in Murder and Obsession, 1999)

Crime – 60 Pages (about, digital)

Man, Dennis Lehane can write a story. From the prose to the dialogue to the atmosphere, everything fits. This one unfolds like a tree branch, the path reaching for several possible conclusions. The one that hit, I didn’t see until it was right there. Riveting stuff.

*****

 

Day 161: June 8, 2019

LOST CAUSE by N.J. Cooper

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine November 2012

Crime – 3 Pages

Flash doesn’t have a lot of middle ground it seems. Not with crime anyway. There has to be a punch, and while there is a little blow at the end, the rest of the story fails to ratchet any tension. It was unpredictable up to the moment, but that isn’t really enough.

**

 

Favorite of the week was THE VOID IT OFTEN BRINGS WITH IT by Tom Piccirilli.

 

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