The 2021 Short-Story Reading Thread

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Friendly Frog

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Phew, AW's long absense did not do wonders for my short story challenge.

I did read some! And I even took the time to type down some comments specifically for this thread!

And then for some reason managed to erase everything right before saving so I just had a blank page to stare at today. Argh. Let's see if I can still reconstruct after these few months.

2) 'The King in Yellow' by Robert Chambers, a collection of 10 stories. A bit of a classic, I'm told, but its very existance so far had managed to completely escape me. But I kept coming across references to in other writers' work, finally learned there was source material, and decided to seek it out. (I was therefor quite baffled to read at the end that Chambers was an influence for Lovecraft. I just hadn't considered its proper age. We live and learn.)

The collection was a bit confusing IMO. The first stories (The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, In the Court of the Dragon and the Yellow Sign) all take place in the same sinister world with Carcosa and the King in Yellow. I can see why it has had so much influence up until now. Very vivid.

But then the next story (The Demoiselle d'Ys), while paranormal, had very little connection to the four previous ones, and because it was all in the same anthology, I kept expecting some connection back to the King in Yellow-theme. I liked this story, but I already knew the myth it was based on and so the 'twist' was no surprise.

But then further in the collection, even a tenuous link with the first stories kept eluding me and I felt like I had missed something important. This might be why the further I went into the collection, the less I liked the stories. (The Prophets' Paradise, The street of the Four Winds, The Street of the First Shell, The street of our Lady of the Fields and Rue Barrée.) They read more like romances and were apparently based on streets in Paris and I kept looking for a link I just couldn't find. And that left me quite dissatisfied.


3) Next up was 'The Trouble with Cupid', and anthology of 10 mystery/romance shorts based around a feline detective named Trouble, thought up by Carolyn Haines.

Each story was prefaced by a little introduction by the titular character which worked well to tie the whole thing together and create the illusion of hearing the private thoughts of a cat. Good immersive vibe.

Some of the stories were really sweet, but sadly I don't remember which ones I liked best. But some tried a little too hard and ended up making Trouble too smart for a cat. A cat pretending to be a human and type texts on a mobile? A cat having an syntax in caterwauling while so much of a cat's communication is non-verbal? Nope. That is taxing my imagination just a little too far. Still, these are minor quibbles. Mystery shorts are hard, IMO, and feline detectives even harder to pull off so I'm not going to harp too much on this. It was an entertaining read.


4) Last one up is 'Forests of the Night', a collection of 20 stories by Tanith Lee. Despite her being a household name in Fantasy, I don't recall having ever read something from her, so I decided a collection was the perfect way to sample.

Each story had a short text about what inspired her to write, which I enjoyed a lot. I like seeing writer's thought processes.

The trouble is, I don't know how representative this collection is of her work because I didn't entirely enjoy it. I don't mind stories with bleak futures or bad endings but it struck me how pervasive this bleakness was in the whole collection. No one seems to have had any fun ever, bar one or two stories on the whole, and most certainly wouldn't be having any after the story's finished. She might just be Not For Me.

Stories I most enjoyed were: Nicholas (even though I understood what it was about before the end of the first page. Still, some clever writing in not saying the one word that shines through the entire story.) Elle est trois (La Mort) and Crying in the Rain.


I am now currently engaged in a Pratchett comfort re-read, so it might be a while before I get to the last anthology/collection required for my personal challenge. I luckily have enough lined up to choose from.

4/5 anthologies or collections with authors I have not yet read before. Everything more will be a stretch goal that will earn me a praliné chocolate.
 
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Lakey

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Good to see you, Friendly Frog! I don’t know anything at all about Tanith Lee, but I do know that short-story collections are not always representative of a writer’s oeuvre (unless you’re talking about writers who are known for their short stories, like Flannery O’Connor or Alice Munro or Raymond Carver). So before you give up on Lee entirely you might consult someone who knows her work in its breadth. Novelists in particular can use short stories to explore themes or experiment with styles that they don’t get to use in their novels.

Case in point: Folks, I started reading the collection Little Tales of Misogyny by my demented idol,* Patricia Highsmith. I’ve always been a little afraid of this book because of its title. And when I opened it today, I was greeted by this, the first sentence of the first story:

A young man asked a father for his daughter’s hand, and received it in a box—her left hand.​
Possibly the best opening sentence (at least the most arresting) I’ve read all year. Anyway I don’t think I’ll write about these stories individually, but rather remark on the collection as a whole once I’ve finished them. They are, indeed, little tales—they are what we would today call ”flash fiction,” though I don’t know whether that term existed in the 70s when they were wrItten. Stay tuned for more when I’ve finished them.

:e2coffee:

* As an author only; not as a human being.
 

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but appreciated anyway...
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Yeah, Tanith Lee wrote across the spectrum, but included a lot of horror and dark stuff with a real goth feel. She was a very skilled writer, but ya gotta be in the mood in order to appreciate her work.
 
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Friendly Frog

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Yeah, there's that. :)

Maybe next time I'm looking for something new to read, I'm taking a gander in my dad's library. There's bound to be some by Tanith Lee in there.
 

Lakey

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Still picking my way through Little Tales of Misogyny, which I am really looking forward to writing about. In the meantime, a dip into the New Yorker archives:

68. "What Is Remembered," Alice Munro, New Yorker (2001)
Alice Munro is astonishingly good at moving through time. I've seen it in a number of her stories and this one is all about the time jumps; as the title suggests, the story is all about how events are recalled and how the recollection of them shapes us later, at the time of recollection. Most of the action of this story takes place on one day, early in the marriage of its protagonist Meriel and her husband Pierre. It opens in the present tense and then quickly switches to past tense, though without changing the time frame. The main story action happens, and at the end of that day, more of it is revealed as Meriel goes over it in her mind. Still later, the story jumps forward a quarter century or a little more, and Meriel remembers more of what happened that day. It is difficult to describe, and presumably even more difficult to write, but just wonderfully executed.

68/144 stories read, 48/72 from the last ten years

:e2coffee:
 

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mrsmig

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Grabbed it. Thanks for the heads up!
 

Chris P

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I remember reading that. It's a good solid year for the series.
 
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Lakey

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Having read a little further in Little Tales of Misogyny, I think I am not going to count it toward my short-story challenge. I set the challenge for myself to learn more about the short-story form—to learn how to improve my own stories. The stories in Little Tales do not advance that objective. They are strange, highly stylized little fables that don’t really stand alone. If you read just one of them, you would think, “well, that was weird.” Together, they paint a pretty bleak picture: that people* are awful, brutal, carnal, venal, selfish, foolish, monstrous. I mean, most short-story collections have themes that emerge, but still, you can read a single story and feel like you’re getting a self-contained completed thing. Here, the individual stories are the brushstrokes; the book is the painting.

Anyway none of this is to impose conditions on what any of you consider “short stories” appropriate to discuss in this thread. Indeed, here I am talking about these stories! I only mean to say for my own accounting, advancing my total by 17 stories when I finish this book feels like cheating on the reason I set myself the challenge in the first place.

:e2coffee:

* Meaning, comparatively affluent white American and European people. The book is as much a condemnation of a certain type of culture as of the individuals comprising it. Part of its message is that social conventions push people into bad decisions that drive them to violence or insanity. In short, it’s a Highsmith book.
 
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mrsmig

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Sorry Little Tales didn't work out for you, Lakey. Hate it when I start a book and realize it's not for me.

I'm about five stories short of finishing the 2017 BASS anthology. So far the stories have been pretty solid - a brooding, sometimes disturbing bunch overall.

22. "God's Work," by Kevin Canty. Teenaged Sander and his mother spend their days pamphleteering for their unnamed religion. One day they end up at the home of Clara, a student from Sander's school, who begins showing up at the church's fellowship meeting. A melancholy story about faith, desire, and the need to belong.

23. "A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness," by Jai Chakrabarti. Nikhil and Sharma have been closeted lovers for years, although Sharma has a marriage of convenience with his wife Tripti. Nikhil decides he wants a child, and tries to pressure Sharma and Tripti to oblige. Moody and complicated, with lots to say about societal expectation.

24. "Arcadia," by Emma Kline. Siblings Otto and Heddy have been running the family's farm together since they were very young, but now Heddy's is pregnant by her boyfriend Peter. When Peter moves in, he's troubled by Otto and Heddy's relationship. While this one doesn't state anything boldly, there's an undercurrent of sexual tension that's unsettling.

25. "Hog for Sorrow," by Leopoldine Core. Young sex workers Kit and Lucy have a growing bond, but things go awry when Ned, a customer who likes to watch, comes on the scene. The sex is right out there with this one, but even so, it takes a while to get moving and felt a bit overlong to me. You can read it free by clicking the link above.

26. "Campoamor," by Patricia Engel. Natasha and Vladimir (Cubans, despite the Russian names) are lovers whose trysts are played against the background of the Campoamor, a ruined Havana performance hall. Vladimir is torn between Natasha and Lily, a married woman who is also his lover. I wasn't crazy about this one. I was puzzled by the Russian names and frankly, bored by Vladimir, a failed writer (he's not the only one in this collection).

27. "Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain," by Danielle Evans. Photographer Rena is attending the wedding weekend of her friend and former lover JT, but when JT gets cold feet the night before and leaves, Rena gets caught up in the mad plans of his jilted bride Dori. This one also felt overlong to me, but at least it has kind of an upbeat ending.

28. "Ugly," by Mary Gordon. New Yorker Laura is sent on business to a horrible little town in Missouri, and ends up finding unexpected beauty. A pensive, deliberately paced story, but with a little twist at the end that I really enjoyed.

29. "The Midnight Zone," by Lauren Groff. A less-than-motherly mother is injured and stranded with her two young sons in a remote cabin. It was hard to like this main character, and I only felt sorry for her frightened kids, but it end up having a sort-of-happy ending.

30. "The Chicane," by Amy Hempel. This long, winding story is narrated by the main character's niece, who tells of her aunt Lauren, who as a young woman was impregnated by a film star and then miscarried, then met a Portuguese race car driver, marries him and has a wonderful honeymoon. Things go awry when they travel to Chicago to meet Lauryn's mother. A mysterious cassette tape complicates things. I found this one hard to get through; maybe it's because it was late when I read it, but I felt like I missed things.

31. "Tally," by Noy Holland. A man whose brother died driving drunk takes to drink himself. This is a shortie-short - only about 500 words - and comes to an odd conclusion, but I enjoyed the language and imagery.

32. "Gabe Dove," by Sonya Larson. After being rejected by her white boyfriend, Chuntao's co-worker sets her up with Gabe Dove, a Burmese-American. It's the first time she's dated a fellow Asian, and she finds the connection both attractive and repellent. I had trouble with this one because I really didn't like the character of Chuntao - she's manipulative and self-absorbed - but I also didn't like it when the tables turn, in an unexpected way.

33. "Let's Go to the Videotape," by Fiona Maazel. A father's videotape of his young son's embarrassing accident goes viral, and Dad can't resist the siren call of fame. I found this one upsetting. The father is so clueless, and the son is in such pain, and it's all way too real in this world where social media rules.

34. "Ancient Rome," by Kyle McCarthy. An educated but unsuccessful writer helps a teenager from a wealthy family on her paper about Marcus Aurelius. This one didn't seem to come to any real conclusion for me; the writing is nice but the narrative fabric is a bit thin.
 
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Lakey

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Sorry Little Tales didn't work out for you, Lakey. Hate it when I start a book and realize it's not for me.
oh, that wasn’t it at all. It’s quite an interesting little book — I just don’t think it counts as short stories for my purposes.
I'm about five stories short of finishing the 2017 BASS anthology. So far the stories have been pretty solid - a brooding, sometimes disturbing bunch overall.

Thanks for reporting on BASS 2017! As always I have terrible FOMO when I read posts like this. I’m glad you took advantage of the sale.

:e2coffee:
 
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mrsmig

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I finished the 2017 BASS anthology last night. It was a pretty solid collection, but man, as a whole the book was kind of a downer. In 2017 I might have been happy to read a melancholy collection, but halfway through 2021 I'm kind of done with doom and gloom.

Anyway:

35. "Last Day On Earth," by Eric Puchner. A teenaged boy tries to prevent his mother from putting his estranged father's dogs to sleep. I thought this one was interesting, particularly the way the boy seesaws back and forth between seeing his mother as the enemy and slowly becoming aware of her as a person other than just "Mom." The ending is rather lovely.

36. "Novostroika," by Maria Reva. In Soviet Russia, a man lives in a building that's been misnumbered; this minor mistake causes huge problems. I really enjoyed this one. The main character's struggle to have his very existence acknowledged is both funny and deeply bitter.

37. "Telemachus," by Jim Shepard. A nice companion piece to "Novostroika." In this one, he crew of a WWII British sub deal with bureaucratic nonsense while trying to outlast German attackers in their cramped, breathless vessel. The grim realities of life aboard the sub ring true, even though the story went on too long for me.

38. "Gender Studies," by Curtis Sittenfeld. A professor whose husband left her for a younger woman has a brief liaison with a young Trump supporter. This one just sort of left me cold.

39. "Famous Actor," by Jess Walter. A woman has a one-night liaison with a well-known actor. This one was fun, with the action intercut by the barista remembering movies in which she's seen said Famous Actor. Walter has some really smart one-liners, like "First sex is like being in a stranger’s kitchen, trying all the drawers, looking for a spoon."
 
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Tocotin

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I picked up again my Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, and read three stories: The Débutante by Leonora Carrington, from The Gloria Stories by Rocky Gámez, and Life by Bessie Head.

Leonora Carrington was the only one of the three I'd heard about, and the story – about a young girl who bonds with a panther in the zoo and invites said panther to a ball. Stuff happens, because it's a surrealist story. I liked it a lot, and I loved the writing style.

The second story was a sad one – about wild, larger-than-life Gloria, who is a lesbian and is positive that she can absolutely make her girlfriend pregnant. The narrator, who is her friend, tries to explain to Gloria how this stuff works, and – it does not end well for really anyone, I disliked the narrator for being so reasonable; I was happy that no one died though. (This is not a spoiler.)

The third story was set in a small village in Botswana, and the eponymous heroine is a fun-loving sex worker who returns there from the city. I was really nervous that she would be totally ostracized, treated cruelly etc., but she found a lot of understanding and camaraderie with the ladies of the village. BUT it is not a happy story, and I wasn't sure about its purpose.

:troll
 
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Chris P

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BookBub (or one of those sale-notification thingies I subscribe to) had a Wendell Berry collection containing 5 stories I've not read before, titled The Wild Birds.

68. Where did they go? - Wendell Berry. Young Andy Catlett, about 10, begins to learn about, and be excited by, the war veterans' stories of "dancing jigjig" with the ladies of Paris, and the jigjig dances the older teens are dancing in the hay mows, picnic blankets deep in the woods, and even those running off during work to "make sure she gets home safely." They do it, the animals do it, and presumably even their parents do it. And one day, Andy hopes, so will he.

69. It Wasn't Me - Wendell Berry. Old Jack Beecham stated in his will that he wanted his farm sold to his tenant farmer Elton Penn, and bequeathed to Elton a sum he figured would be half of the selling price. However, Old Jack didn't state in his will the selling price, forcing the farm to auction--with several other bidders anxious to get their hands on the good land. Lawyer Wheeler Catlett needs to get creative if he's to fulfill the wishes of his late client and faithful friend Old Jack.

70. The Boundary - Wendell Berry. Aging and ailing, Mat Feltner figures he's spry enough to take a walk along the boundary line of his property, although he knows it might very well be the last time. Memories from across Mat's 80 years come and go, the laughter, toils and shenanigans along the boundary of a lifetime in time and place as Mat's frail body tires and weakens.

71. That Distant Land - Wendell Berry. This story picks up where The Boundary leaves off, but from the perspective of a twenty-something Andy Catlett, Mat's grandson. Mat's dementia has left him bedridden as Mat ventures every closer to that distant land--and life continues on elsewhere.

72. The Wild Birds - Wendell Berry. Lawyer Wheeler Catlett is visited on a Saturday by Burley Coulter, and his nephew Nathan and Nathan's wife. Seventy year old Burley wants Wheeler to draw up his will, leaving his farm not to his nephew who he's treated as a son who will keep the Coulter name on the farm, but to Burley's illegitimate son Danny Branch. Out of love for the century of Coulters who have lived and tilled that land, Wheeler tries to dissuade Burley, until it becomes clear that larger forces are at work, history and tradition be damned.
 
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mrsmig

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One of today's Daily Science Fiction stories had a pretty interesting theme: through a mandatory election, the populace is able to vote on which catastrophic events will be eradicated from both history and memory. A woman who's suffered a recent personal loss weighs the consequences. You can read it free at the link below:

40. "Truth, in Plain Sight Hidden," by Wendy Nikel.
 
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angelisa fontaine-wood

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Hi all!
I do love a good short story and write them mainly. I haven't recently-recently found anything that clicked. The historian in me tried The Women of Weird Tales but I just could not get through it. Trying Charles de Lint's Dreams Underfoot atm and am having a hard time getting past the first in which the fantastical element is described as "a booger" - my revulsion got the better of me but I'll be skipping to the next and hoping things improve. I did however love Sarah Monette's The Bone Key and another collection of Elizabeth Hand's but I'm not recalling which one it was (Mars Hill or Errantry.....?). I may try Lauren Groff's Delicate Edible Birds next and then Sarah Pinsker Sooner or Later Everything falls into the Sea because I dearly loved her piece, Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather.
 
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Chris P

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One of today's Daily Science Fiction stories had a pretty interesting theme: through a mandatory election, the populace is able to vote on which catastrophic events will be eradicated from both history and memory. A woman who's suffered a recent personal loss weighs the consequences. You can read it free at the link below:

40. "Truth, in Plain Sight Hidden," by Wendy Nikel.

I haven't read this story, but it brings to mind a thought exercise we did in junior high school about values. In this exercise, following a nuclear attack a group of 20 (or something like that) people were trapped in a bomb shelter for two years, and there was only enough food and water for 10 of them to survive; trying to save more than 10 would guarantee all 20 died. Your job was to determine which 10 were to be sent outside (assuming opening the door wouldn't kill everyone) to fend for themselves and almost certain death, so that the 10 remaining inside would survive. You were provided a description of each of the 20, as to age, occupation, political leanings, religion, etc. There were no right or wrong answers, of course, the point was for you to critically evaluate what was important to you, and to be aware of how you processed values different from your own. For example, would you save the only farmer (i.e., the only one who knows how to grow food once they're out of the shelter), but who is past reproductive age (can't help repopulate the community) and is old enough he might not last the two years anyway? Or the unwed teen mother (reproductive capacity) who has no formal skills but is experienced with childcare? What about her newborn who can't do anything at all for 2 years except consume resources and her mother could have more kids anyway? What would you do with the middle-aged Catholic priest--would his skills be worth anything to you?

I HATED that assignment (and wow, heavy for 7th grade!) because no matter what I said, the "Whattabouts" made me feel like I'd done it wrong. Nowadays, I wouldn't want to be shouldered with that responsibility.
 
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mrsmig

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I was casting around for some seasonal reading (i.e. spooky Halloween stories) and happened upon Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories, a mingling of horror and Inuit folklore. That alone made it sound interesting and offbeat, so I started it last night.

41. "The Haunted Blizzard," by Aviaq Johnston. Schoolgirl Inu is released from class early due to a blizzard, and makes her way home alone despite warnings from neighbors. This one kept ramping up like something was going to happen, but just as things got interesting, the story ended abruptly. Disappointing.

42. "The Door," by Ann R. Loverock. Joamie, a hunter, stumbles upon a mysterious doorway out in the middle of nowhere. Another story that built and then just sort of dropped away right at the conclusion.

43. "Wheetago War II: Summoners," by Richard Van Camp. I wasn't quite certain what to make of this story. It felt like part of a longer work, with dystopian/alt-earth themes, but I couldn't quite sort out what the situation was before folks started getting torn apart. I may have to go back and try this one again.
 
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Lakey

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Hello everyone!

Though I did not end up counting the stories in Little Tales of Misogyny here, I did write something about it on Goodreads, if you’re curious.

Chris, I love the tenacity with which you pursue your Wendell Berry completism. He is a writer I know literally nothing about so the persistent interest you have in him is very intriguing.

On to the stories! A bunch of spec-fic, this time. I’ve resisted the siren call of New Yorker fiction podcasts of late.

69. "Truth, in Plain Sight Hidden," Wendy Nikel, in Daily Science Fiction
This was a recommendation by mrsmig, above, and it is indeed a provocative little story. However, in light of the present situation in the USA, it seems to me that a government with the technology to alter people’s memories of recent events wouldn’t leave it in the hands of the people to decide whether and how the technology gets applied.

70-79. Survival Tactics, by Elizabeth Bonesteel.
AW’s own lizmonster! A lovely collection of brief tales that demonstrate, if you had any doubt, that speculative fiction can have a solid emotional core and deep emotional impact. (I’m a little short on time now so I have to forego notes on the individual stories.)

79/144 stories read, 59/72 from the last ten years

:e2coffee:
 
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Chris P

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Lakey, I'm close enough to having read the whole of Berry's Port William stories (only one novel, already on the Kindle, and maybe half a dozen stories left in various anthologies) that I might as well finish, even if the stories are decent but not spectacular.

Fans of the Best American Short Stories series: next anthology to be out on October 12. This year's editor is Jesmyn Ward. I loved Sing, Unburied, Sing, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

BookBub connected me to Nairobi Noir, edited by Peter Kimani. As "it says on the tin," this is a collection of noir stories taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.

73. She dug two graves, by Winfred Kiunga. The discovery of the early morning murder of a young university student in a Somali refugee neighborhood leads the victim's sister Fawiza on a vengeance quest into a dark part of her marginalized community.
 
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Lakey

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BookBub connected me to Nairobi Noir, edited by Peter Kimani. As "it says on the tin," this is a collection of noir stories taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.
That sounds delightful. If you develop a taste for noir stories set in African metropolises, do try My Sister the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, set in Lagos, Nigeria. I loved that little book to pieces when I read it last year, and recommended to people right and left. (Interestingly, I think I also used the phrase “what it says on the tin” in my Goodreads review of it.)

:e2coffee:
 
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Tocotin

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I'm slowly going through the Angela Carter's Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women collection, and I'm almost halfway through. I skipped Katherine Mansfield's The Young Girl (since I read it recently in another collection), and read three new stories, all of which left me scratching my head, albeit for different reasons.

The first one, A Guatemalan Idyll by Jane Bowles, was the most wild and enjoyable of them. It's a story without a main character, a string of rapidly changing scenes and events, described in language that is vivid and plain at the same time, and after an initial shock I just decided to go with the flow and take whatever the narration was throwing at me. It's hard to tell whether this portrait of a little Guatemalan town and various characters, both locals and tourists, was meant as a caricature or as a primitivist painting, but it was interesting. I have a book of Jane Bowles on my TBR list, and this story did whet my appetite.

Three Feminist Fables by Suniti Namjoshi were extremely short and bitter. I did and did not understand the point. The end.

The last one, The Rainy Moon by Colette, was extremely long; I suspect its placement in the collection had something to do with the length, since the previous "fables" were so short. ("A-ha! You thought this one would soon end, too? Haha!") The concept was quite intriguing – a lady writer becomes friends with a typist and her strangely disturbed sister, who live in the writer's former apartment – but it was overlong and full of details and derails that didn't really go anywhere.

:troll
 
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angelisa fontaine-wood

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I thnk I'm giving up on Charles de Lint's Dreams Underfoot collection. I tried the first story "Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair" and could not get past the elements that I objected to in my post above. I can't be transported from the mundane to the magical by a creature called and described as "the booger" - the gross out factor just completely annihilates any sense of enchantment I got from say, the bird flying out of the protagonist's chest, even though I loved that image. I couldn't finish it.
The Stone Drum, the second story, just is not grabbing me enough to carry along its won weight and keep me reading. So I thnk this collection was a dead end for this particular challenge. Blah.

If any one knows this collection and can tell me reasons why I should push onward, I'm certainly open to them.

I'm thinking Delicate Edible Birds for the next try.
 
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mrsmig

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I finished Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories and confess that I found it a disappointing anthology, with no real standouts in the collection. It needed a stronger editorial hand, too.

44. "Revenge," by Thomas Anguit Johnston. A man who's been ostracized by his people takes revenge by summoning a legendary creature. This one made me a little nuts by constantly referring to its MC as "the lone man." I got it after the first half-dozen repetitions; midway through the story I was grinding my teeth at it.

45. "Lounge," by Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley and Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley. This one is SF/Horror, and the longest story of the collection. It takes its time getting started, which is just as well because there's a LOT of world-building (another story that feels like it's part of a longer work). A scientist on a secret mission with some advanced tech is not certain she can trust the other researchers in her group, and invites them to a virtual lounge as an ice-breaker. Things go wrong.

46. "Utiqtuq," by Gayle Kabloona. A trio of indigenous survivors of a zombie apocalypse are surprised by the arrival of a rescue helicopter. This one had potential, and an interesting theme of Inuit vs. white, but its ending was sooooo predictable.

47. "Sila," by K.C. Carthew. A young mother and her infant are menaced by a polar bear. This brief story's ambiguous ending disturbed me - which is what a proper horror story should do.

48. "The Wildest Game," by Jay Bulckaert. A man with cannibalistic tendencies decides to indulge himself. That's all I'm going to say about that.

49. "Strays," by Repo Kempt. A traveling veterinarian is pursued by a dark deed from her past. Another story that takes a long time to get to a predictable end.

Which left me with one story left to reach my 50-story goal for the year, so I did a search for "today's short story" and came up with this one:

50. "The Open Boat," by Stephen Crane. Four survivors of a shipwreck row for land and safety. I enjoyed the simple voice and plain language of this story.

So that's my fifty stories for 2021. I may read more stories for the balance of the year; I'll certainly be checking in for others' recommendations. Lakey, as always, thank you for starting this thread and keeping it going. I'm going to start collecting titles for 2022!
 

Friendly Frog

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I finished Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories and confess that I found it a disappointing anthology, with no real standouts in the collection. It needed a stronger editorial hand, too.
Ah, that's a shame, I was keeping my ears pricked for that one since you mentioned it earlier up-thread. No need for me to go and hunt it down then.

Congrats on reaching your goal so speedily!
 
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