The 2021 Short-Story Reading Thread

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Chris P

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I finally got off to a late start on my short story reading, but it's moving along.

I picked up a used copy of Ten Years of the Caine Prize for African Writing, although the 20 years compilation is out. The 20-year version contains all of the 10-year stories, plus all of the stories I've already read from following the series for the past 10 years. So, rather than spend three times the money on more paper for a new book I've already read half of, I opted for a used version of the older anthology.


1. "The Ultimate Safari" by Nadine Gordimer. A group of Mozambican refugees trek across South Africa's Kruger Park to escape the civil war violence in Maputo, in stark contrast to the White tourists who ride through pampered.

2. "Nietverloren," by J. M. Coetzee. More an essay on the decline of industry and agriculture following African independence, a child muses on the remains of what was a thriving wheat threshing operation, imagining it a fairy ring from the times of old. Later in life, he observes as White tourists flock to a reconstructed and fanciful "living history farm" near the site.

3. "Incidents at the shrine," by Ben Okri. Unceremoniously fired from his job at the museum, Anderson returns to his ancestors from the village and undergoes a purification rite.

4. "The Museum," by Leila Aboulela. International students, including the Sudanese main character Shadia, at a university in the UK struggle to earn their keep in the confusing social and educational system.

5. "Love Poems," by Helon Habila. Lomba, a political prisoner, begins a love affair with the prison warden's wife through a series of coded poems.

6. "Discovering Home," by Binyavanga Wainaina. Having reached emotional and financial freedom working in Cape Town, the narrator embarks for a year in Kenya, and to a family Christmas party in post-genocide Rwanda.

7. "Weight of Whispers," by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Rwandan diplomat stationed in Europe attempts to get home at the start of the genocide, trapped in Kenya without rights or a government to speak for him to rely on friends and his dwindling cash to survive.

8. "Seventh Street Alchemy," by Brian Chikwava. A slice of life of the various characters on a street corner. Not much of a story; didn't finish this one.


I need to re-read the next story, as I don't remember a single thing about it. Then I'll finish up with the rest of the stories from the volume.
 

stephenf

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Not long finished working my way through The New Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction. Edited by Maxim Jakubowski. He owned and run Murder one, a book shop in the Charing Cross Road. A shop I visited for years until it closed. Never looked at the crime books, I was straight down the basement into the science fiction department. I now know it was my loss. Not all the stories are brilliant, but many are and a good introduction to the writings of Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammet and Ramond Chandler.

I'm currently reading Volume one, the first of five, of The Collected Stories of Philip K Dick. I have read them before, it is surprising how many I have forgotten. I think PK D is one of the better short story writers and is worth reading even if you're not a fan of his books.
 
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Chris P

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Stephen, I know the name, but I'm not sure I've read any of his. He comes up a lot, though. I'll have to check him out.

Continuing in 10 Years of the Caine Prize:

9. "Monday Morning," by Segun Afolabi. A family relocates to the city to take on manual day labor after the war shuts down the seaside resort where the father worked as a celebrated chef. Then, one of the children go missing when he seeks out God in the rooms of the modern, glass walled high-rise hotel.

10. "Jungfrau," by Mary Watson. A young and devoutly religious woman strives to preserve her purity, fighting back the nascent carnal urges of womanhood.

11. "Jambula Tree," by Monica Arac de Nyeko. Written as a letter to her wild friend Sanyu, now in London (maybe), the narrator recounts scenes from their shared childhood during the wars in northern Uganda, and their discovery of mutual and forbidden lesbian attraction.

12. "Poison," by Henrietta Rose-Innes. A rare and refreshing example of African post-apocalyptic fiction (that's the best I can describe it), Lynn is stranded at a petrol station outside Johannesburg after the city is evacuated following a chemical plant explosion that poisons the city. This or Jambula Tree are the best stories in the collection.

13. "Waiting," by E. C. Osondu. Young Orlando, so nicknamed after the shirt given him by the Red Cross, awaits word of his hoped-for adoption by an American family to avoid the temptation of joining up as a child soldier for the local warlord.

14. "Am Emissary," by Nadine Gordimer. More of a poem. I'm not sure what this one is about, as it's a collection of possibly related vignettes about a couple meeting at a resort on safari. Maybe.
 
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mrsmig

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Glad to rejoin the SS Challenge! I didn't read any short stories over AW's downtime - my focus has been on books and poetry (I smashed my 2021 50-poem goal, thanks to binging on Mary Oliver). Now that I can see what others are recommending, that'll get me going again.
 
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Lakey

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Hello hello! I'm so glad we're back. Thanks ChrisP for picking up the short-story thread right where we left off. I read quite a few stories during our hiatus -- I'll come back later with the list and maybe a word or two on the standouts. Among other things, I read Alice Munro for the first time and I'm absolutely hooked.

I also had a short story published right after AW went offline. I hope you don't mind if I offer the link here: Beard (Cagibi, January 2021)
 

Chris P

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Hello hello! I'm so glad we're back. Thanks ChrisP for picking up the short-story thread right where we left off. I read quite a few stories during our hiatus -- I'll come back later with the list and maybe a word or two on the standouts. Among other things, I read Alice Munro for the first time and I'm absolutely hooked.

I also had a short story published right after AW went offline. I hope you don't mind if I offer the link here: Beard (Cagibi, January 2021)
Congrats Lakey! I've bookmarked the story and will read it tonight.
 
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Lakey

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Okay! I’ve read a decent amount of stories since we last met, and I kept notes on some of them. I’m going to list them all here because even if nobody else reads my notes, I like to review these posts as the months go by—it helps me remember what I’ve read. This is a rather long post; the forum requires me to break it in two.

First, some spelunking in lit mags.

12. Khanh Ha, “Moths to the Flame,” Cagibi (2021)
This author has an impressive set of credentials but this story didn’t do much for me. The Vietnamese village setting is somewhat interesting, but the story is a flat male adolescent fantasy of being seduced by a knowing, more mature girl.

13. Larisse Mondok, “A Storm’s Hiatus,” Cagibi (2021)
Too opaque, with unfamiliar words and names. Even when you sort out the names, it’s still too opaque. The narrator evidently has some terrible event in her past that destroyed her relationship with her family. The story can’t conclude without revealing what that event is, can it? Either it does just that, or the reveal is so oblique that I missed it completely. Either way, it’s not a satisfying resolution for me. Maybe I missed the point.

14. Alexandra Grabbe, “Buried Treasure,” New World Writing (2021)
A nice story by an acquaintance of mine. I really like the content of the story, especially the ending. Interesting look into how the descendants of emigres have a slightly romanticized view of their ancestors’ pasts, either because the ancestors have embellished the stories or because the descendants themselves have. The two Europeans in this story are much more sanguine about the narrator’s Russian roots than she is.

15. Eleanor Howell, “Belly Heat,” The Normal School (2021)
Another story by an acquaintance. Nice story made stronger with its note of secret regret at the end. Much of the story plays out in conversations between two women, best friends, and it adds a nice contrast to highlight the things that are not a part of that conversation.

16. Kathryn Kulpa, “Fire Season,” New World Writing (2021)
Nice little bit of flash fiction. I often find flash unsatisfying, because it ends right when I am getting a picture of who the characters are and what the story is about. On the flip side, the run-on sentence structure of this story would not be tolerable for much more than 1000 words. Periods and paragraph breaks really do matter — one needs a breath to process the words and images one has read. To the author’s credit she packs a nice complement of images and ideas into this small space, neatly and efficiently characterizing both the narrator and her friend.

17. Elizabeth McCracken, “Nothing, Darling, Only Darling, Darling,” Zoetrope All-Story (2021)
Elizabeth McCracken impressing me again with a lovely, delicate story. I can relate to this story because I have experienced briefly thinking about having children in the face of family loss—my partner's aunt and grandmother died within a few days of each other, and we had that conversation while sitting shiva....

Next, a couple of entries from the wonderful New Yorker Fiction podcast, where authors choose other people’s stories from the archives to read, and then have marvelously analytical conversations about them with the New Yorker fiction editor.

18. William Trevor, “Bravado,” New Yorker (2007)
Read by Elizabeth Strout. If I recall correctly this story is about a young man who starts a fight to impress his friends and a girl he barely knows, and what the girl does when she finds out that someone was killed in the fight.

19. Alice Munro, “Corrie,” New Yorker (2010)
Read by Margaret Atwood. I read this one again later in the year when I picked up an Alice Munro collection.

Next, a new collection of stories by Deesha Philyaw. I have notes on some of these. I liked the collection as a whole, though I wasn’t crazy about all of it. Overall a decent collection of stories about love and sex and longing and identity, centered on Black women. The first handful of stories, the ones I have notes on, were the strongest.

20. Deesha Philyaw, “Eula,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)
Two old friends try to come to grips with the way life has differed from their youthful expectations of it.

21. Deesha Philyaw, “Not-Daniel,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)
A very sweet little story about the intersection of grief and sex.

22. Deesha Philyaw, “Dear Sister,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)
Terrific epistolary story; my favorite in the book. A gadfly of a man who had a handful of daughters by different women has died. One of the daughters now writes a letter to another one, the one who has been estranged from all the others, to introduce and invite her into the family.

23. Deesha Philyaw, “Peach Cobbler,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)

24. Deesha Philyaw, “Snowfall,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)

25. Deesha Philyaw, “How to Make Love to a Physicist,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)
This reads like an exercise: Write a story in the style of Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help.

26. Deesha Philyaw, “Jael,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)

27. Deesha Philyaw, “Instructions for Married Christian Husbands,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)
A woman lays down the rules for married men who want to have affairs with her.

28. Deesha Philyaw, “When Eddie Levert Comes,” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (2020)

Next, I began the Alice Munro collection, but according to my notes I interspersed it with some stories from the New Yorker and one or two journal-spelunking expeditions. I’ll separate those out, and list the Alice Munro stories together. I wish I had kept better notes on these, but I did not; at any rate, I loved them, and expect to read them again very soon, possibly later this year. They are listed here in the reverse order they appeared in the book, because that’s the order I wrote them down in.

29. Alice Munro, “In Sight of the Lake,” Dear Life (2012)
Elderly woman’s dream. Terribly sad.

30. Alice Munro, “Train,” Dear Life (2012)
The man who runs away at any hint of intimacy

— Alice Munro, “Corrie,” Dear Life (2012)
As noted above, I heard Margaret Atwood talk about this one at some length. A slightly lame woman has a long-lasting affair with a married man, eventually learns that he had been lying to her in a particular way, and taking advantage of her; she makes the choice to let it slide rather than confront him about it. A sad and gentle commentary on the indignities one endures for love, I suppose.

31. Alice Munro, “Pride,” Dear Life (2012)
Another story about a physically imperfect person—a man with a harelip, who is assumed unworthy of love.

32. Alice Munro, “Haven,” Dear Life (2012)
A woman strives to be the perfect wife to a very strict man.

33. Alice Munro, “Gravel,” Dear Life (2012)
A woman flails around for something exciting in her life; the fallout on her daughters.

34. Alice Munro, “Leaving Maverly,” Dear Life (2012)
Somehow rangy and claustrophobic at the same time; a man who seems tied to his ailing wife befriends a teenager and watchers her life evolve from his stationary perspective as she elopes with a jazz musician, has children, and later has an affair with a minister.

35. Alice Munro, “Amundsen,” Dear Life (2012)
Wonderful atmosphere in this story about a young woman who goes to work at a school for tuberculous children, and almost enters a marriage that would have been awful.

36. Alice Munro, “To Reach Japan,” Dear Life (2012)

... to be continued ...
 
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Lakey

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... and the rest.

And here are the stories read intermittently with the Munro. Not many notes, and I don’t seem to remember much about them.

37. Barry Hannah, “The Wretched Seventies,” New Yorker (1996)

38. Grace Paley, “Love,” New Yorker (1979)
Grace Paley at her Grace Paleyest; salty, voicey commentary on love and marriage.

39. Matthew Hurley, “Slipping Away,” Crab Orchard Review (2019)
I cannot remember this story at all. I’ll have to go look it up to find out what it was.

40. Diana Clarke, “The Photographer,” Crab Orchard Review (2019)
A kind of a gross story about a kind of a gross guy.

41. Zak Salih, “Mr Breyfogle,” Chattahoochee Review (2020)
Oh I quite liked this one, about a young man’s friendship with his undertaker stepfather.

42. Muriel Spark, “The Ormolu Clock,” New Yorker (1960)
There will be more Muriel Spark in my life. I just love her style.

43. Patricia Highsmith, “The Trouble with Mrs Blynn, the Trouble with the World,” New Yorker (2002)
Astonishingly, because she is my favorite author and the sine qua non of my entire fiction-writing career, this is the first of Highsmith’s short stories I’ve ever read. I really liked this story. Very little happens in it, though there is a crisp tension throughout, a sense of dread and of things just a little off. And it bears the Highsmithian mark of the meticulously rendered, slightly disturbing quotidian detail. The date suggests it was published quite posthumously, but the subject matter suggests it was written in the mid-60s, at the same time as Highsmith’s novel A Suspension of Mercy, with a similar setting (an English resort town) and some similar characters (an ailing old woman and her caretaker).

Next, I read George Saunders’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, which does not contain any Saunders stories, but does contain seven Russian classics. I didn’t really love any of these stories—for better or for worse, I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those writers who worships at the feet of the Russians—but they are all memorable thanks to Saunders’ engaging deep commentary on them and how they do what they do. I strongly recommend the Saunders book, even if you also aren’t really on the Russians train.

44. Anton Chekhov, “In the Cart”

45. Ivan Turgenev, “The Singers”

46. Anton Chekhov, “The Darling”

47. Leo Tolstoy, “Master and Man”

48. Nikolai Gogol, “The Nose”

49. Anton Chekhov, “Gooseberries”

50. Leo Tolstoy, “Alyosha the Pot”

And finally, another writers’ book I read recently mentioned Mavis Gallant a few times, and she piqued my interest; I found a handful of her stories on that New Yorker podcast. I really like them.

51. Mavis Gallant, “When We Were Nearly Young,” The New Yorker (1960)
A young Gallant-like autobiographical character bums around in Spain with a few indolent young Spaniards. They all worry about money and about the future but when it becomes clear that the young woman is only sort of play-acting the Bohemian life, there is a rift between them.

52. Mavis Gallant, “Voices Lost in Snow,” The New Yorker (1976)
This one was read by Margaret Atwood. The narrator reminisces an event from her childhood in which her father took her to visit a female friend who had a falling out with her mother. It is clear to the reader that the father is negotiating an affair with the woman, which he either ends or decides not to have at all because he doesn’t like the way she treats the little girl. It’s a rather subtle story.

So: 52/144 stories read; 35/72 from the last ten years.

:e2coffee:
<— so delighted that this little guy is still here.
 

mrsmig

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Wow, Lakey - that's quite a list! I love Elizabeth McCracken so I hurried over to the Zoetrope site (thanks for the link) and read the story. It made me feel edgy the whole time - waiting for the shoe to drop, I suppose - but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

8. Elizabeth McCracken: Nothing, Darling, Only Darling, Darling.

Sooooo far behind...
 

Chris P

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I liked Munro's Amundson story. It's probably worth another read at some point.

I'm mostly through this year's Pushcart Prize anthology, and I'll post the list too. Overall, it's a solidly decent but not phenomenal installment.
 
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Lakey

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mrsmig, I’m glad you liked the story. I remember you shared a link to another Elizabeth McCracken story late last year — “It’s Not You” (link to it above in my first post of this year) — I reread it the other day and I think it’s even better then “Nothing, Darling, Only Darling, Darling.” Just so crisp and detailed with so many “I wish I’d thought of that” turns of phrase to knock me out of my chair.

I listened to another Mavis Gallant story on the New Yorker Fiction podcast, this time read by Karen Russell, who is not a writer I know, but her commentary on the story was so thoughtful and fun that I’ll have to go dig her own stories out of the New Yorker archives too.

53. Mavis Gallant, “From the Fifteenth District,” New Yorker (1978)
I had to read it twice because it was so weird—but also, so clever and delightful. Gallant recounts three complaints of haunting: The dead, complaining that the living are haunting them. She imagines a dead soldier who makes yearly visits to the church where he was buried, horrified by the living humans who gather there hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghost that haunts the place. There is a poor immigrant woman whose own account of her death is rather different from the accounts of the two people who haunt her, a doctor and a social workers. And there is a woman who served her husband for nearly forty years, in the way that certain husbands demand to be served while they do their great and important work, and now only wishes that he would stop eulogizing her and calling her an angel. It is a wonderful story but I especially recommend the podcast because Karen Russell’s conversation with Deborah Treisman pulls out so many of the details.

53/144 read, 35/72 from the last ten years.

:e2coffee:
 

Chris P

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I also made my way through the 2021 Pushcart Prize anthology, once again a solid year (as always). It will probably take a few posts to get through all of them.


15. "In the Event," by Meng Jin. A couple in San Francisco make extensive preparations for major disasters, such as earthquakes, wildfires, and nuclear attacks, but are wholly unprepared for the major disasters of heartbreak.

16. "The Master's Castle," by Anthony Doerr. Basil Bebbington of Bakersfield ruins his shot at the career of his dreams, and plods through his middle-age existence across the street from the Master's Castle, a mysterious entertainment center that is soon to open.

17. "Upright at Thyatira," by Darrell Kinsey. A heartfelt flash piece about an atheist tuning a piano at a church.

18. "Late Rumspringa," by Austin Smith. One of the more memorable stories in the compilation, the devoutly Amish Abraham leaves the community for the outside, seeking solace for the loss of his two sons.

19. "The Red One who Rocks," by Aamina Ahmad. I'm betraying my teen years by thinking this was about Sammy Hagar, but instead Humair travels with his mother to a religious shrine in the Pakistani hinterlands, meeting a mysterious beggar girl. Another good, memorable story.

20. "Fall River Wife," by Peter Orner. The narrator researches the life of the shadowy wife of a mysterious, and unscrupulous if not criminal distant uncle.
 

Chris P

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More from the 2021 Pushcart:

21. "Teamwork," by Shawn Vestal. A high school football team forced to dance with seniors at the nursing home try to get one over on their loud-mouthed, overbearing coach.

22. "The Samples," by Kristopher Jansma. The many unconnected lives touched by a single cancer biopsy intersect at the moments the patient learns the results.

23. "Howl Palace," by Leigh Newman. A widow prepares an open house for the home she built with her late husband, nothing left for her here but nowhere else to go. The characters really come to life in this one.

24. "Vows," by David Means. A couple renews their wedding vows to heal following infidelity, but of course there's more to the story behind the event.

25. "The Golden Age of Television," by Karl Taro Geenfeld. Behind the scenes with television script writers.

26. "The Lonely Ruralist," by Janisse Ray. Actually an essay, but with a very short story feel, a couple leaves the city for rural Georgia, and finds that things are not as they were once upon a time.

27. "Charlie," by Colleen O'Brien. A woman maintains a friendship with a college professor who did her a favor and who has recently acquired some fame for a piece he wrote.

28. "Aunt Job," by Nikalus Rupert. An odd but very well executed one, in which incest is formalized and sanctioned in a society where the father's sister gives her nephew a hand job on his fourteenth birthday as a rite of passage.

29. "The Missing Are Considered Dead," by V. V. Ganeshananthan. The government kidnaps the narrator's husband, a suspected Tamil rebel.

30. "Longshore drift," by Julia Armfield. Two high school girls from opposite sides of the tracks work together on a beach ice cream truck.

31. "Something Street," by Carolyn Ferrell. Seemingly based loosely on the Bill Cosby events, the long-time wife of a now-disgraced Black comedian who has stuck with him through everything watches from the wings as her husband performs his signature acts.

32. "Laramie Time," by Lydia Conklin. After years of holding out, Jane tells her wife Matty that she is ready to have a child; she even has the father chosen and obtains the needed "materials."

33. "The Shame Exchange," by Karen E. Bender. A giant warehouse is set up in the middle of the country were citizens with too much shame can hand theirs off to the politicians who have none. This one channels Vonnegut fairly faithfully.

34. "Give My Love to the Savages," by Chris Stuck. A young man returns to L.A. just as the Rodney King riots break out. He and his father, who owns several shady used car lots, drive around the city checking on the security of their lots.
 

Chris P

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Still more from Pushcart:

35. "Freak Corner," by John Rolfe Gardiner. Living across the street from the first transgender woman is the narrator and her deaf, signing sister, in 1953 Washington DC suburbs where neither trans folks nor signing were common.

36. "My Father Recycles," by Naira Kuzmich. A flash piece, perhaps non-fic essay, where the narrator's father puts his recycling into bins for the local homeless to collect and turn in for money.

37. "In a Good Way," by Polly Duff Kertis. A fun piece where the main character travels to a wedding with her "not all the way gay" male roommate.

38. "Chastity," by Siqi Liu. Young girls in Mao's China emulate the supposed chastity of the local ancient mummy on display at the museum, each vying to be the perfect specimen to be the Chairman's wife.

39. "It's Not You," by Elizabeth McCracken. In the days of call-in radio chat shows, a woman nurses her broken heart with a weekend at the Narcissus hotel, running into a national radio self-help personality.

40. "The Night Drinker," by Luis Alberto Urrea. A post-apocalyptic piece in Mexico City following climate and political crises, re-awakening the Aztec gods of old.


Now, onto the next anthology, the Best Debut Stories of 2020 :)
 
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Lakey

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ChrisP I just mentioned "It's Not You" a couple of posts ago. I loved that story.

I listened to the last of four Mavis Gallant episodes of the New Yorker Fiction podcast.

54. Mavis Gallant, “Dédé,” New Yorker (1987)
The title character is an awkward (and perhaps mentally ill) young man, a source of frustration to his sister (who adores him, though wishes she could mold him better), and his brother-in-law (a stolid magistrate who really can't stand the weirdness and unpredictability of the young man). It's a touching and rather melancholy story, with an interesting layer: it's told from the perspective of the Dédé's nephew Pascal, the magistrate's son, a boy who admires Dédé and is fascinated by him and the mysterious dynamics of the grownups.

54/144 read, 35/72 from the last ten years.

:e2coffee:
 

Tocotin

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Checking in! I hope everyone is doing good.

I read a few novels when AW was down, but no short stories. So yesterday I picked up Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, and read the first story, The First Crop by Elizabeth Jolley. It is a surprising and maybe even slightly disturbing tale about a poor family whose head, a resourceful and unpredictable lady, does... things. I don't know how to describe what happens without spoilers, but I felt it was verging on magical realism while being completely realistic – it was just that wild. The writing reminded me of George Saunders for some reason. I didn't know at first where or when the story was taking place, and was delighted to slowly find out that it was set in Australia. (I went to Wikipedia afterwards to learn about Elizabeth Jolley; her biography is very interesting.)

So my challenge status is as follows:

1. Southpaw by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán
2. Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women by various authors STARTED
3. Beggars on Horseback by F. Tennyson Jesse
4. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells by various authors
5. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James
6. 25 Gates of Hell: A Horror Anthology by various authors
7. Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson FINISHED
8. An Assassin’s Letter Should Be Delivered by Horse Cart by Yamada Fūtarō

:troll My orc is still here. Sweet!
 
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Chris P

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41. "Beard," by Carla Miriam Levy (our Lakey!). A woman with an abundance of facial hair comes to terms with her appearance, her sexuality, and where she fits along the balance between society expectations and finding herself. Some nifty writing in there ("like throwing herself off a cliff and discovering that she had learned to fly in a previous life"--:Hail:) and heartfelt scenes. Well done!

I'm currently working my way through Best Debut Stories of 2020--The Pen America Dau Prize.

42. "Evangelina Concepcion," by Ani Cooney. A family grieves the tragic loss of their mother, and the MC tries to keep her memory and spirit alive by writing her mother's name in discrete parts of her mother's clothing as the sell it or give it away.
 
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The Second Moon

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Since AW has been down, I read two short story collections, Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Vampires Never get Old. (I was on a vampire kick for a little bit.) I'll post my thoughts on them in different posts.

VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE by Karen Russell: (2 stars out of 5)

Don't get me wrong, I loved the stories at the start of the book, but once I had read three stories with no plot and just stunning world building and characters, I got bored.

My favorite one was. "Reeling for the Empire". It is about young Japanese women who are forced to work in a silk factory, slowing turning into silkworms. I loved the creepiness. Granted, it was the second story in the book, so I hadn't yet gotten bored of the repetitive lack of plot.
 
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The Second Moon

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VAMPIRE NEVER GET OLD (5 out of 5 stars)


This YA vampire anthology was simply incredible! I thought I would get tired of vampires after a few stories, but each one was a fresh new twist on the supernatural creature.

My favorite was Mark Oshiro's. "Mirrors, Windows, and Selfies". It was so amazing I had to shut the book for a minute just to soak it all in.

With all that said, there were some steamy/ smutty parts I didn't care for. (I don't like steam or smut on books, anyways) so just be warned about that.

Overall I would recommend this book to any mature teen or vampire-loving adult.
 
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Lakey

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ChrisP thank you for reading my story. :e2flowers I am so glad you liked it and especially that you liked some of the language. I admit that there are a few lines in there that I am quite proud of.

Second Moon it’s great to see you back in the thread! I’m glad you enjoyed that second vampire-story collection.

The new smilie collection has this more understated version of my sign off: :coffee: But I have been using the exuberant one for so long now, I’m not sure I’m ready to switch to decaf.
:e2coffee:
 

mrsmig

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I haven't been getting much out satisfaction out of the Daily Science Fiction site lately; the 1.5k word count limit (1k preferred) means some stories fall short, but since I'm so far behind on my reading goals, I figured what the heck.

And of course, today's story was a big ol' meh. A few chunks of backstory and then nothing. I'm wondering if it's maybe the start of a longer work, because for me it just doesn't go anywhere. See for yourself; the link is below and it'll only take you a minute or two to read.

9. Invasive Species by G. Allen Wilbanks.
 

Chris P

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mrsmig: writing short is a skill not everyone has! Sometimes in SYW folks will suggest the post be the start of something longer, and I sometimes say "No! Keep it short! We don't all have to aspire to be novelists!" (even if I do, but knowing how to get in and get out and tell a complete tale is a valuable skill)
 
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Lakey

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I read the story in this week's New Yorker, by Cynthia Ozick, a writer I've heard of but know nothing about.

55. Cynthia Ozick, “The Coast of New Zealand,” New Yorker (2021)
Very readable story about a group of former schoolmates who have a "pact" to meet up at a certain spot on a certain day each year. The story eventually focuses down on one of them, Evangeline, and how she reacts to, resists, adapts to the constant change and churn of life.
55/144 read, 36/72 from the last ten years.

:e2coffee:
 

A large christmas tree with lights outdoors in the snow, with a snowman, houses, and children