Daily Short Story Diary - Week 31

August 3, 2019

Day 211 July 28, 2019

SPINALONGA by John Ware

The 13th Pan Book of Horror Stories – 1972

Horror – 10 Pages

A tourist group goes to a supposedly deserted island…yawn. Pretty much two obvious options here, either some residents are still there or the residents are ghosts. There’s some room with an expectation so obvious, but beyond the obvious isn’t explored in this one. Maybe in 1972 this story wasn’t beaten to death yet, but in 2019…man. The writing’s redundant and clunky. Still, okay, cool visuals and engaging pace.

***

 

Day 212 July 29, 2019

THE SPINDLY MAN by Stephen Graham Jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off – 2014 (story originally published in Fearful Symmetries, 2014)

Horror – 15 Pages

Man, that was some fun. It’s like a meta story built into a story because it’s partly about another story, but not actually meta because it’s a reading group and told in first person. Get it? Sure you do. Anyhow, aside from the usual stuff you get with SGJ’s work—fantastic writing, great pacing, less is more descriptions—this one unravels in a way that’s bundled you up and has you questioning reality, using a familiar unreality—familiar if you’ve read Stephen King’s The Man in the Black Suit—to build your expectations. Am I talking in circles? So fucking good.

*****

 

Day 213 July 30, 2019

FEVER by Raymond Carver

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

General – 28 Pages

Good help is hard to find. A man is unravelling after his selfish and flakey wife takes off to pursue an art career, despite not being good, and leaves him with the kids. What happens thereafter is a string of plausible and maybe even likely pieces to that sort of puzzle. As always with Carver, even if he was describing a time he was threading a fishing hook or popping a zit, it’s completely readable and engaging. Dude was a master. This story doesn’t pack any great finale punch, but it did invoke mental responses to the lead character’s plight. Good.

****

 

Day 214 July 31, 2019

NOT YET THE END by Fredric Brown

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Science Fiction – 3 Pages

Silly little bit of fun here. To talk much is to spoil the story (I don’t care that it was released in 1961, I’m just getting to it now, and it’s a great book so maybe my reviews of this one convince someone else to get it too). There’s a few smart ways to do flash, my favorite is the clever left turn ending, which Brown does in this one, and to much delight.

****

 

Day 215 Aug 1, 2019

THE ATLAS OF HELL by Nathan Ballingrud

Wounds: Six Stories From the Border of Hell – 2019 (story originally published in Fearful Symmetries, 2014)

Horror – 30 Pages

I don’t know where, but I’d read this one before. Probably in a Datlow anthology, I don’t think I’ve read Monstrous Affections… Anyway, I didn’t pick up fully until the dead son’s bone was mentioned, by then my morning had begun and I was a few pages deep. This one has a hardboiled edge to it. Grimy underworld people doing grimy underworld stuff. There’s blood and weirdness and pretty excellent use of imagination, built off Christian mythology concerning Hell. Great writing. Good pace. Fun times.

*****

 

Day 216 Aug 2, 2019

SOFT CONSTRUCTION OF A SUNSET by Philip Fracassi

Behold the Void – 2017

Horror – 18 Pages

This one’s a bit like if Stephen King’s Grey Matter got a literary coat of paint. Not saying that’s to a betterment, but that’s where the ships kind of part from one another. This one adds a double kick to the ending that really grabs. The opening is a bit flowery at times in a way I don’t really get, but the flowery stuff seems to drift off once the story starts chugging along. Fun. Spooky. Great ending.

****

 

Day 217 Aug 3, 2019

THE DOG’S GRAVE DIGGER by Darcy Coates

Small Horrors – 2016

Horror – 3 Pages (about, digital)

This is the first I’ve read of this very well-sold author. The prose is clear and accessible, even a bit clunky at times. The story is of an accident, but the man involved was already on his way to doing something…which he REMEMBERS after the accident, but the thing is like a huge, all-consuming kind of thing. How’d he forget? I’ll give a few more of the stories a read, being flash, I feel like it doesn’t take much to miss a target, but that one seemed as if there was a lack of effort involved.

**

 

Favorite of the week was THE SPINDLY MAN by Stephen Graham Jones.

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