Day 274 Sep 28, 2019
MOWING FOR THE CHICKEN by Eric Rickstad
Cemetery Dance Issue #77 – 2019
Horror – 3 Pages
This one’s a mighty straightforward and the path to the end, though littered with reasons to root for the main character, it has zero sideways steps or glimpses at red herrings. It’s a simple comeuppance story. Had pretty good texture and a fun voice, and it didn’t take long to breeze through.
Day 275 Sep 30, 2019
SOLVE FOR X by Stephen Graham Jones
After the People Lights Have Gone Off – 2014 (story originally published in Mixer, 2013)
Horror – 16 Pages
This is a pretty brutal story. It has strange external violence and delves into the internal impact of such violence, and insanity or magic. It’s engrossing and well-written, but there’s really nothing to root for or against. It was too hopeless, though it had surprises.
Day 276 Oct 1, 2019
BLOOD MEMORY by Zachary Ashford
The Encampment by the Gorge & Blood Memory – 2019
Fantasy – 30 Pages (about, digital)
This is a fun adventure that straddles somewhere between fantasy and horror. Has a wizard, so I called it fantasy. There’s shapeshifting and playing off historical tidbits, and big old crocodiles. It’s also a mystery tale that unravels pretty neatly, maybe a bit too neatly to focus much on the mystery of it. There were a few clunky bits, but overall it was pretty fun.
Day 277 Oct 2, 2019
THE LATE MR. HAVEL’S APARTMENT by David Herter
Borderlands 4 – 1994
Fantasy – 11 Pages
This one was very unlike the rest in this anthology, it held no horror or suspense, not even any real oddity. It was a nice story about second chances, or maybe limitless chances. It was intriguing and never was I bored, but it had very little impact. It didn’t seem to befit this anthology…that said, no anthology should appeal 100% to any one reader. Do that and you’ll have many, many totally angry readers. So good, but not to my tastes so much as there was no cost for the good stuff, no debts to be paid, just a free ride to happy town.
Day 278 Oct 3, 2019
PHEONIX by Megan Mayhew Bergman
Ploughshares Solos: Omnibus 1 – 2013
General – 23 Pages
This book is a side of the world utterly foreign to me, and though this story took place on a North American farm, the point of view felt as if from another universe. Mostly, it seems, wealthy, highly educated folks pick some novelty and imagine living it, and get it totally, stupidly wrong. This story really felt like that until about two-thirds of the way through and the smoke cleared fully that these were no people of the particular novelty (by novelty I mean lifestyle, everything’s a novelty to rich people but their money…I assume). This was a story about wealthy-ish (because how else?) city folk trying to make a go on a farm and earning money by touring other city folk around the farm. No hard, Annie Proulx-like women on this farm, just waifs and the angry but mostly peaceful men they keep around. Everything is soft and comes simply, aside from the emotional turmoil of the cast—a cast of fuddy-duddy, wishy-washy hippies, people who often pop up and vanish from farms, back to the cities. Can’t quite put a finger on how good I found this story, though it certainly was good. The goat really worked for me.
Day 279 Oct 4, 2019
HIGH SPIRIT by Frank Oreto
Journal of Black Ivy – 2019
Horror – 3 Pages (about, digital)
Ha! That was some goodtime horror. Engaging, with an impassioned lead character spilling something wildly important and then blamo…cough, cough, cough. Great fun. Really digging the type of stories that Signal Horizon selected for this thing (not just saying that for the obvious reason either). Maybe horror where things happen is making a comeback over horror where people sit around sad all day and the horror is their sadness. Maybe? Maybe! Is there room to hope for positive change in 2019?
Day 280 Oct 5, 2019
DRIVING TO GERONIMO’S GRAVE by Joe R. Lansdale
Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories – 2018 (story originally published in The Highway Kind, 2016)
Crime – 35 pages (about, digital)
Lansdale’s stories are like a warm bath on a chilly night; you just slide on in and get comfortable, but then the water gets cool and maybe a big old spider darts across the room, near your towel, but you lose exactly where he went, and then maybe you find the drain’s clogged and now you’re in too damned deep to turn back, you gotta face the obstacles head on. Like that, but vicariously through layered and human characters. Now, in particular with this one: I’m someone who thinks a lot about the characters as the story’s building, I wonder if it’s unfair to note how I saw this one ending before there was ever any trouble, the moment that bird died spelled the end method, but, I guess it, didn’t quite…could be the author was thinking about people like me and put a double tap on it, even a little one that happens in a snap like it did here—which is one of the key ingredients to nearly all my favorite short stories. The pacing and oddity of this one is fantastic. It’s textured and you can almost smell the dead uncle. Fun, even funny. Engrossing.