My Year of Short Stories is an ongoing challenge I’ve set myself. My goal is to read 365 short stories from the day after I turned 30 (August 14th, 2017) to the day after I turn 31 (August 14th, 2018).
August 23rd, 2017, Notes On The Writing of Horror: A Story by Thomas Ligotti, Published in Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe, Penguin Classics.
Blurb: A fictional horror author (or Thomas Ligotti) outlines his approach and styles to writing horror, only to find himself in a similar nightmare as the example he uses to discuss the meta of horror.
Opinion: The meta aspect of this piece is certainly my favorite part. I suspect this is a close or exact telling of how Ligotti goes about writing horror, which is cool. Frankly, the fictional or story aspect of the piece is less intriguing, but as a whole this piece is a nice insight into the styles and process of Ligotti’s work.
August 24th, 2017, Matter by Josh Malerman, published in published in Cemetery Dance, issue 74/75, 2016
Blurb: A young boy’s aunt explains how we’re all made up of atoms and if we can control every atom in our bodies we could walk through walls, letting those atoms slide between the atoms of the walls. Spoiler: it’s about much more than walking through walls.
Opinion: This is a metaphorical story. Everything hinges on the metaphor that relates back to the normalcy and important things in life. It feels very “magically real” in some ways, which is totally my jam. I like this story because it uses a magical element to tell a very “real” story.
August 25th, 2017: See separate blog post.
August 26rd, 2017, The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise by Thomas Ligotti, Published in Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe, Penguin Classics.
Blurb: A man re-accounts a story Aunt Elise tells one Christmas Eve, only to find that the story transports him through time, space and, perhaps, worlds.
Opinion: This isn’t one of Ligotti’s best. Perhaps it’s just the number of stories I’ve read by him lately, but I saw the ending coming, though there was a little twist that I was dismayed to see, just a cliche that could have been avoided. The best part of this piece is the ambiguity of the space/time continuum, as this story breaks down linear time, hence its title.
August 27th, 2017, Sacks by Raymond Carver, Published in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, Vintage Contemporaries.
Blurb: A man visits his father for the first time after the divorce. They go out to a bar and his father tells him the story of his cheating.
Opinion: First, I love Carver’s writing style. There is something about his bleakness that gets me. Not in terms of his subject matter, though it is bleak, but his syntax. He uses dialogue tags in such a way that repetition becomes part of the tension rather than an annoyance. The “he said,” “I said,” makes the whole conversation in this story feel like one long awkward moment, which is exactly what it is.
August 28th, 2017, 2N5E by Yuki Iwama, Published on Needle In The Hay (http://needleinthehay.net).
Blurb: A vaguely cyberpunk-ish story about discovering the new meaning of what God is, or is made of.
Opinion: This is a flash fiction piece, so it’s quite short and because of this it suffers from some of the typical issues FF suffers from. First, scene is sacrificed a bit too much for backstory. The backstory felt like most of the piece to me, then there from what readers learn from the this backstory we get a small clip of a character discovering something. However, we don’t get a sense of weight as we might hope, as the character, narrator, making the discover isn’t known to the reader. Still. It’s always nice to see what’s out there. You can take a look at Yuki Iwama’s other work on her website.
August 29th, 2017, Shift by Nalo Hopkinson, Published www.nightmare-magazine.com
Blurb: The son of a African deity escapes his family for time, but can only stay hidden if a white woman tells him, shows him, what he should be.
Opinion: There were some sections of this story that lost me, mainly some of the backstory stuff. However, that backstory comes full circle by the end and is all essential. The essay I read a week ago (or so) on Afro-Futurism by Greg Tate echoed this piece in some startling ways. The main point is the search for identity beyond that of dominant culture/white culture and the dominant narrative. This story has everything to do with identity of a people who have been defined by others as “other” for generations. The ending is thoughtful and keeps the reader asking the question: what happens next?