My Year of Short Stories: August 30th – September 5th

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 30th, 2017, Cesar Aira: Interviewed by Pablo Calvi Published in The Believer, August-September 2017

Blurb: A brief interview with the author concerning how music has influenced his writing.

Opinion: If nothing else, this essay has introduced me to a new writer. I don’t know Aira’s work, though The Believer tells me I should. This magazine, while one of my favorites has a knack for making me feel horribly ill read in terms of “canon” in which Aira is to become a part of, if he isn’t already. Yet another author added to my, “to read,” pile.

August 31st, 2017, The Last Exorcist by Danny Lore Published in Fiyah: Volume Three August, 2017.

Blurb: In a world where sundown towns, in which black, or brown, people must leave the town before sundown, have made a comeback with a demonic twist, a journalist meets up with “The Last Exorcist” on the eve of the house passing a bill that would make exorcism illegal.

Opinion: An interesting and compelling story. It dives into the racist heritage of the US, of white privilege and fear, but also of into black America’s identity. A great first read from a promising new magazine.

September 1st, 2017, The Breeze In The Boughs by Jennifer Marie Brissett Published in Fiyah: Volume Three August, 2017.

Blurb: A story about “the other” moving to a neighborhood and the feelings those who have claimed it have.

Opinion: I enjoyed this story for it’s content and metaphor. It’s sad but, it’s whimsical fairy tale style makes it much less sad than a literal interpretation of the dangers of gentrification and the staking of land or neighborhoods as ones own.

September 2nd, 2017, A Citizen In Childhood’s Country by Seanan McGuire Published in Lightspeed Magazine, August, 2017, issue 87.

Blurb: A story about never growing up.

Opinion: An interesting take on what it means, or doesn’t mean to grow up. It was a fine story, but about two-thirds into it the author introduced certain titles, the “Lost” and the “Found which were suppose to reference certain types of people. I think it was a bit unnecessary to use these jargony words which make the piece feel as though it is just the prologue to a longer piece, which it may be.

September 3rd, 2017, Toward The Sun by Sydnee Thompson Published in Fiyah: Volume Three August, 2017.

Blurb: In a world in which the radiation from the sun is so intense most rich people live under a great dome, the poor are forced to live outside and harvest the food. Every person is fitted with a cuff or sleeve that injects them with a sedative that puts them to sleep so they can’t try to work through the daylight ours, and instead seek shelter from certain death.

Opinion: It’s a cool dystopian  idea, but the story itself was pretty heavy on back story–though not because it didn’t need it. The story is constantly building to the conclusion, which is escape, but then the escape isn’t quite as dramatic or exciting as I had hoped.

September 4th, 2017, The Embalmer by Helen Marshall Published on The Dark, 2017.

Blurb: A young boy is obsessed with digging up dead animals and embalming them so that when he finally dies he can go to heaven and have lots of animal companions. But a girl he knows looses her brother, The Embalmer makes a sacrifice that changes everything.

Opinion: While I love the creepy subject matter of this story, I’m a little disappointed with it’s execution. The creepy aspects of this story don’t seem to have much barring on how the characters change, or decide not to change, and therefore the ending feels a bit unearned.

September 5th, 2017, Cracks by Xen Published in Fiyah: Volume Three August, 2017.

Blurb: In a world in which the fabric of reality is literally being pulled apart, a young man finds what could have been if things were different.

Opinion: This is a touching story about the “what ifs” a young black man might have in our own world. The difference here is that reality is literally being pulled apart and his job is to mend this reality to keep other people, people who are not like him (mostly not black) safe. The metaphor is a strong one as I could see this story taking place in the pre-civil war southern states in which it was the slave work that held the economy together, and in many ways, the reality white people lived in, and in so many sad ways, this hasn’t changed.


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