Day 260 Sep 15, 2019
THE HALLOWEEN MONSTER by Alison Littlewood
The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories – 2018
Horror – 16 Pages
Ooh, this one had me right from the start, hitting me with one of those upfront, don’t you do it possibilities. Kill kids and old people. Get at peacekeepers and gods of any religion. Shoot saviors and heroes. Motherfucker, you better not hurt that animal. So, suspense and then an unexpected unravelling. Great writing. Great twist on the expected. Great impact.
Update: Alison Littlewood has agreed to let me reprint this one in the next issue of Unnerving Magazine.
Day 261 Sep 16, 2019
THE LADY OF THE BURLESQUE BALLET by Timothy Schaffert
Ploughshares Solos: Omnibus 1 – 2013
General – 30 Pages
To get it out of the way, before it slips my mind, my only real beef with this one was some of the descriptions. In fairy tales you get magic potions and elixirs, fine, great. Fantasy demands the impossible. A story based in reality, even loose as this, having meals thoroughly explained and then suddenly having inexplicable aphrodisiacs and fancies added to the menu smacks of laziness. Anyway…this one’s kind of fun and has a rhythm close to how fairy tales are told (at least modern ones). It’s whimsical and things move forward without worry much about the how or why, which helped the pacing, so in that give and take, I’ll take the shorter page count. Fun descriptions. Smooth writing. Strange enough to be interesting (how the world’s fattest woman came to be).
Day 262 Sep 17, 2019
PHANTOM HEART by Terra Lemay
Cemetery Dance Issue #77 – 2019
General – 8 Pages
Cemetery Dance was once a magazine of suspense and horror, now I suppose they’re adding in the…I don’t know, stories about sad but quirky circumstances? Nothing at all happens in this story. There are no twists. A woman is crazy and thinks she’s pregnant, yaaaaaaaaaaawn, but isn’t.
Day 263 Sep 18, 2019
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES by Bentley Little
Borderlands 4 – 1994
Horror – 10 Pages
Nasty. Nasty. Nasty. Man, that was a weird one. I guess another way to put it would be that was a typical Bentley Little. Start with the mundane, dash in something outrageous and gross and then crank it ten notches. This one is full of wonderful nonsense. It’s a mystery that’s solved but never acted upon because only the reader knows, not the characters. Gross-out fun.
Day 264 Sep 19, 2019
BLOODCOTH by Ray Cluley
Probably Monsters – 2015 (story originally published in Interzone, 2012)
Fantasy – 19 Pages
This one’s kind of like a cult story, but part of what the townsfolk are told is true and all must pay tribute to vampire curtains. Ones they hang in their homes. I have a pretty good and accessible imagination, but that was too absurd without any fun attached. This is a serious story where everyone is sad and there’s no hope and nobody tries to better their situations—I can go out for coffee and look at that all day if I want, so meh.
Day 265 Sep 20, 2019
RIDING THE BLACK by Charles Grant
Revelations – 1997
Fantasy – 21 Pages
This one’s a grim western fantasy about an old man too old to be, but exists anyhow. It’s fun in that the outlaw aura lingers around the man, even as he rides into town where there are TVs and jukeboxes, as if it were still saloons and prospectors. It’s a slow and somber tale, but it carried this reader along well enough to hold my attention. Though, it’s a touch confusing at times. It ends pretty much exactly where you’d expect, but not exactly why…if that makes sense.
Day 266 Sep 21, 2019
FRIENDS by Grace Paley
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories – 2015 (story originally published in The New Yorker, 1980)
General – 11 Pages
Man, New Yorkers are weird. In stories and on TV anyway. Always talking, talking, talking, and about what? Anything, so long as it’s boiled into their micro-world—the classes, the vitamins, the aging, the wives… I didn’t much get the point of this story, but there were a few good lines and it had an interesting presentation and point of view.