September 6th, 2017, The Lost Art of Twilight by Thomas Ligotti, Published in Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe, Penguin Classics.
Blurb: When a young man who was born from a mother post death meets his late father’s family the mystery of his mother’s last days becomes clear.
Opinion: This story plays on some tropes I won’t reveal, but Ligotti certainly uses his trademark lyricism and nihilism to make the piece interesting. It’s not one of his best works, but it’s a good stab at a trope that is just so overdone.
September 7th, 2017, The Man In The Crimson Coat by Andrea Tang, Published on Apex-Magazine.com, 2017
Blurb: A woman who was adopted by a murderous cyborg sets out to confront him, once and for all.
Opinion: There were some cool elements in this story. I like cyborgs as a rule–though they aren’t typically used as much as they could be in literature. The story does fall into some unfortunate gender tropes, however, with a woman using a promise of sex to outwit a man, which is just… just unfortunate and has been done SO many times before that I was left scratching my head that the author couldn’t have found something more creative.
September 8th, 2017, Red String by Cassandra Khaw, Published on thedarkmagazine.com, 2017
Blurb: A woman has a difficult time letting her late husband go.
Opinion: This story is the first I’ve read that was unbearably cheesy! It’s a conversation between a widow and a mortician about the husbands funeral. There is no indication that there is anything peculiar about the mortician at all. Then at the end, in one paragraph it’s revealed, as though by the whim of the author, that the mortician could speak to the husband’s ghost and was trying to make the widow let go of his memory. So cheesy!
September 9th, 2017, Dinosaur by Bruce Holland Rogers, Forty Nine: A Square of Stories.
Blurb: Micro fiction piece about a boy who grows up wishing he had been a Dinosaur instead of a tax accountant.
Opinion: Short-short fiction is difficult to pull off. It’s nuanced in a way, I think, even short stories are not. Each word has to move the piece forward in a meaningful way. Like in longer pieces of fiction, there can be no loose ends, but in a piece such as this (it’s under two pages) every misplaced word can be a loose end. I think the author accomplishes a lot in the piece, a whole lifetime, in fact. It’s a gentle look on how we should not give up our childish side too easily. We should not give up our dreams.
September 10th, 2017, Memoir by Bruce Holland Rogers, Forty Nine: A Square of Stories.
Blurb: Two stories in one, or perhaps three. Story one, captives in a concentration camp in 1943 tell a joke and one gets shot. Story two, two boarding school students in 1978 go to the mall and get told off by a guard. Story three (maybe), how a writer can take the most subtle and inconsequential events in their own lives and make a compelling, heartbreaking, story out of it.
Opinion: I love this kind of story. Even the it’s under three pages, the meta-fictional aspect of this piece is intriguing. I really enjoy stories in which the author shows you how he created the work. I learn the most from them.
September 11th, 2017, The Process Is A Process All Its Own by Peter Straub, The Best Horror of The Year Volume Nine, 2017
Blurb: A man who spells spoken and written words is a serial killer who preys on young women.
Opinion: Frankly, I hate the trope of a serial killer preying on young women. It’s gross, misogynistic, and just predictable. This piece, while it as an interesting bent (in terms of the words becoming smells for the main character), this seemed more like murder-porn-literature. Stories like IT by Stephen King, and The Chemist by Thomas Ligotti, are interesting horror stories because they aren’t JUST horror stories. They deal with deeper issues like prejudice, nihilism, victimization and coping, recover…and so much more. This story was just gross.
September 12th, 2017, Puppy by George Saunders, Tenth of December, Random House.
Blurb: A story of two different mothers. One has escaped poverty, the other is in the grips of it. They are both happy.
Opinion: A heart wrenching look at how affluent and impoverished families might meet. A story that deals with love, abandonment, dead animals, and child abuse. Difficult to read, in terms of content, but amazingly well written.