I try to read at least one short story each day to get my fix. But the constant stream of classic and contemporary authors also helps me maintain my sense of where the form comes from and where it’s going. If you keep a similar record, post a link in the comments! Jump to today’s entry.
2022-01-01 “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
In the face of a killer on the loose, a grandmother and her family take a road trip to Florida. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1953). Liked.
2022-01-01 “A Family Man” by VS Pritchett
A conversation between Bernice and Mrs. Cork, the mistress and wife of Mr. Cork, respectively. From The New Yorker (1977) (Listen). Liked.
2022-01-02 “Salt” by Rosemary Melchior
2022-01-04 “Leaf by Niggle” by JRR Tolkien
Niggle is trying to finish his painting before he must leave for a journey he is dreading, but is constantly interrupted. From Dublin Review (1945). Liked.
2022-01-04 “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience TM” by Rebecca Roanhorse
2022-01-05 “Vaccine Season” by Hannu Rajaniemi
Tursti visits his grandfather in hopes of infecting him with the latest vaccine and extending his life. From Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future (2021) (Listen). Loved.
2022-01-06 “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong” by F Scott Fitzgerald
Bryan Dalyrimple returns from war and must figure out how to navigate the world after parades and accolades. From The Smart Set (1920) (Listen). Liked.
2022-01-06 “The River” by Flannery O’Connor
Bevel’s babysitter takes him to see a preacher for healing, but he has his own agenda. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). Liked.
2022-01-06 “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
When her husband is invited to a ball, Madamme Mathilde Loisel (who longs to be rich) borrows a friend’s diamond necklace and loses it. From Le Gaulois (1884). Liked.
2022-01-07 “The Million Pound Bank Note” by Mark Twain
After a boating accident leaves Henry Adams in London with nothing, he meets two brothers who bet each other that Henry will not be able to make it 30 days with a million-pound note. From Langenshiedt ELT (1893). Liked.
Norma receives a mysterious package in the mail and is overcome by curiosity. From Playboy (1970). Liked.
2022-01-08 “To Jump is to Fall” by Stephen Graham Jones
2022-01-09 “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor
A tramp, Tom Shiftlet, arrives at Lucynell Crater’s farm and finds he can get what he wants if he makes himself useful. From A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955). Liked.
2022-01-10 “The Art of Learning to Dance” by Sara Dobbie
The narrator explains the ins and outs of appreciating yourself as a dancer as you age. From New World Writing (2022) (Read). Liked.
2022-01-10 “Water Booger Bears” by Jason Reynolds
Jasmin is back at school after being sick, and she and TJ are discussing what they are made of. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-11 “The Low Cuts Strike Again” by Jason Reynolds
John John, Francy, Trista, and Bit band together to steal enough money to get what they want. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-11 “Call of Duty” by Jason Reynolds
Bryson will never be the same after a fight at school. money to get what they want. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Loved.
2022-01-12 “Skitter Hitter” by Jason Reynolds
Decisions: Markus whether he is going to sacrifice Pia, Stevie whether his own skin is worth sacrificing Pias. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-12 “How to Look (Both) Both Ways” by Jason Reynolds
With her life full of uncertainty, Fatima attempts to make at least the walk home from school predictable. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-12 “Five Things Easier to do than Simon’s and Kenzi’s Secret Handshake” by Jason Reynolds
Simeon and Kenzi’s symbiotic relationship. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-13 “Satchmo’s Master Plan” by Jason Reynolds
Satchmo plots to avoid getting attacked by the neighbourhood dog. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Neutral.
2022-01-13 “Ookabooka Land” by Jason Reynolds
Cynthia follows in her funny grandfather’s footsteps. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-13 “How a Boy Can Become a Grease Fire” by Jason Reynolds
Gregory Pittses friends help him get ready to ask a girl out. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-14 “The Broom Dog” by Jason Reynolds
Canton grieves. From Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (2019). Liked.
2022-01-15 “Eraser Tattoo” by Jason Reynolds
Shay is moving and leaving her mark on her childhood friend and boyfriend Dante. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-16 “Meet Cute” by Malinda Lo
Nic and Tamia become fast friends (and hopefully more) in the bowels of a convention centre when the power goes out at a Comicon they are attending. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-16 “A Stroke of Good Fortune” by Flannery O’Connor
Ruby struggles, both to climb the stairs and to come to terms with her changing body. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). Liked.
2022-01-17 “Don’t Pass Me By” by Eric Gansworth
Doobie has never been a “Passing Indian,” so he doesn’t try, even if taking a stand doesn’t make him popular with the other students or his teachers. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Loved.
2022-01-18 “The Placement Agency” by Tobias S Bucknell
A man takes a job with a hefty signing bonus without knowing what he’s got himself into. From Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories by Tobias S Bucknell (2021) (Listen). Loved.
2022-01-19 “Be Cool for Once” by Animah Mae Safi
Nerdy Shirin and her friend Francesca go to a concert where she is approached by Jeffrey, her longtime crush. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-22 “Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex” by Tobias S. Bucknell
Tavi is a Taxi driver in future Manhattan who gets swept up in an agency investigation when an octopus-like alien passenger jumps out of his cab and into the river. From New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color (2019) (Listen). Liked.
2022-01-24 “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey” by Haruki Murakami
2022-01-24 “The Red Romper” by Eleonora Balsano
A grieving mother hunts for the red romper she gave away when her baby died. From Bandit Fiction (2022) (Read). Loved.
2022-01-25 “Why I Learned to Cook” by Sara Farizan
Yasi has avoided bringing her girlfriend to her grandmother’s Friday night dinner because she doesn’t know how she will react. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
Big Eddie, Willie, D’Mario and Frank discuss death and how to stay in the world. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-27 “War Dances” by Sherman Alexie
A young indigenous father comes to terms with his father’s death as he faces his own mortality. The New Yorker (2009) (Read). Liked.
2022-01-28 “A Stranger at the Bochinche” by Daniel José Older
Ramses and Rosie try to stop plans for a new future from falling into the wrong hands. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Neutral.
2022-01-29 “A Boy’s Duty” by Sharon G Flake
Zakery James dreams of being a quartermaster in the navy and a professor at a university, but boys like him never follow through. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-30 “One Voice: A Something In-Between Story” by Melissa de la Cruz
Jasmine must decide whether words are violent enough to protest. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-31 “Paladin/Samurai” by Gene Luen Yang
Owen is half Japanese and has a crush on the girl across the street: can he roll a 20? From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-01-31 “Kodama’s Ramen Shop” by Ellen Oh
Jessie’s tired of everyone bearing the brunt of her grandmother’s racism. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). Liked.
2022-02-01 “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell
A haunted house for sale has its hopes set on a certain kind of owner. From Diabolical Plots (2020) (Read) (Listen). Telling the story from the point of view of an inanimate object is cute, but it wasn’t as engrossing as it could have been.
2022-02-02 “Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar
Tommy’s first day on the men’s team is another day closer to who he is inside, outside. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). I loved the use of repetition and the rawness of emotion.
2022-02-03 “The Captain of the Pole-Star” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Aboard the Pole-Star, Dr. John M’Alister Ray Jr. observes the decline of the captain and crew (and himself), as they are marooned on the ice. From The Captain of the Pole-Star and Other Tales (1883) (Listen) (Read). I felt there were too many words in this story, but I enjoy the paradox of the doctor’s role and his opinions.
2022-02-04 “Super Human” by Nicola Yoon
Syrita is chosen to convince X, a superhero gone rogue, not to destroy humanity. From Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles (2018). I liked the way this one ended.
2022-02-04 “Once Removed” by Alexander MacLeod
Amy (grudgingly) and Matt take their new daughter Ella to meet Matt’s great-aunt Greet, or so they think. From The New Yorker (2022) (Listen) (Read). I like the development of Amy and Greet’s relationship.
2022-02-05 “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” by Flannery O’Connor
The child wonders about her ugly thoughts when her cousins Susan and Joanne come from their convent school to visit. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). This story was a bit hard to get into because it took me a while to get a sense of the main character. I enjoy the biblical allusions in her stories.
2022-02-06 “The Artificial N*****” by Flannery O’Connor
Mr. Head takes his grandson Nelson to the city for the first time and the two come head to head over their pride. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). This story paints a perfect portrait of contempt between generations.
2022-02-09 “The Darling” by Anton Chekhov
Olga Semyonovna is given a chance to live her own life. From A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (2021) and originally published in Semya Magazine (1899). (Read). I like how effectively Checkhov uses repetition to convey meaning in this one.
2022-02-09 “A Late Encounter with the Enemy” by Flannery O’Connor
Sixty-two-year-old Sally Poker Sash’s dream is for her one-hundred-four-year-old father to live to sit on the stage when she graduates college. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). I liked the juxtaposition of performance and reality.
2022-02-10 “Access” by Andy Weir
A woman who can access anywhere she wants offers her services. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I liked the ending and the use of dialogue.
2022-02-11 “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor
Hulga believes herself better than the simple country folk she’s surrounded by and then she meets her match. From A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (1955). I enjoyed the character development of the antagonist in this one.
2022-02-12 “Antihypoxiant” by Andy Weir
A doctor discovers a way to make it so that cells are impervious to death. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I was pretty neutral on this one.
2022-02-12 “Annie’s Day” by Andy Weir
Annie takes the day for herself, then decides to indulge her darkest fantasy. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I loved how uncomfortable I felt about this one!
2022-02-12 “The Real Deal” by Andy Weir
Ray tells Bobby about meeting the woman of his dreams, even though they’ve only gone on one date. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). This one warmed my heart.
2022-02-13 “Bored World” by Andy Weir
Rod is kidnapped to relieve the boredom of a sentient dimension. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). This ending was unexpected and endearing!
2022-02-14 “Midtown Butcher” by Andy Weir
Michelle is surprised in the shower by someone prowling in her apartment and must figure a way out. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I didn’t feel that Weir effectively provided clues for the ending so I felt a little confused at the end.
2022-02-15 “Meeting Sarah” by Andy Weir
Daniel worries about messing up his chances to meet Sarah (again). From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). Weir could have taken a little more time to set up the tone of this one.
2022-02-16 “The Chef” by Andy Weir
Doris, under the care of Dr Mitchel, must remember the night her father died in a gas explosion. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I like how her memory unfolds and it isn’t too clear who we can trust.
2022-02-17 “The Egg” by Andy Weir
A conversation between God and a man who has recently died before he moves on. From The Egg and Other Stories (2018) (Read). I like this story. It is his most popular short story though, and I think there are others in this collection that are just as good, with a more original ending (“Annie’s Day,” for example.
2022-02-22 “The Boogeyman” by Stephen King
Lester Billings believes he killed his three children and goes to a shrink to get the story off his chest (1973) (Read). I was captivated. I wonder what he would do differently if he wrote this story today?
2022-02-23 “Speech Sounds” by Octavia E Butler
Since the Silence, Rye kept herself alive without knowing why and is now heading to Pasadena to find out if she’s the last of her family. From Azimov’s Science Magazine (1983). This story is my introduction to Butler and it makes me want to read more.
2022-02-23 “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Delicate Louise shuts herself away from her family to come to terms with the death of her husband. From Vogue (1894) (Read). I appreciate this story in a way I don’t think I would of had I read it when I was younger: perfectly empowering feminist piece.
2022-01-01 “The Old Spot” by Winifred Holtby
The academic progress of Eli Brooks begins with a scholarship to grammar school. From Pavements at Anderby by Winifred Holtby (1937) (Listen). I found Eli’s fate particularly satisfying.
2022-03-022 “The Birthday” by Madeleine L’Engle
It’s Cecily’s birthday and she is growing up entirely too fast for her own liking. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I liked L’Engle’s depiction of how a child first experiences self-awareness.
2022-03-04 “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn
Jane discovers U0-1, an alien device, and must find her way through the scientific and governmental bureaucracy to decipher what it means for humans. From Tor.com (2013) (Listen) (Read). If you liked The Martian by Andy Weir (I did), then you will like this one. I wanted a better ending, but we can’t always have what we want.
2022-03-04 “Tree of Sorrow” by Silmy Abdullah
Returning to Bangladesh for the first time in her memory, Laila must adjust to sharing her Ma with her Nani. From Puritan Magazine (2022) (Read). An example of a multigenerational timeline within a short story. And, there is something about a selfish character that is just relatable!
2022-03-07 “Silver Door Diner” by Bishop Garrison
An unusual boy gets acquainted with his server over a slice of pie. From Fiyah Magazine, Issue #16 (Listen). Some might say that the benevolence of the boy is trope-y, but it gave me hope.
2022-03-09 “Gilberte Must Play Bach” by Madeleine L’Engle
Claudine copes as her mother insists on playing Bach, and her father insists on going to the café. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). This story is a little raw, but I like the potential of the ideas.
2022-03-09 “Afterlife” by Stephen King
William Andrews dies and goes to . . . an office? From Tin House Magazine (2013) (Listen). I like the various shades of morality in this story.
2022-03-10 “The Mountains Shall Stand Forever” by Madeleine L’Engle
Away at school, surrounded by girls she doesn’t like, Ellen is finding her own mind, for better or worse. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). Like the others, this story could use a little polishing, but a great example of the preteen struggle not to succumb to peer pressure.
2022-03-11 “Summer Camp” by Madeleine L’Engle
Lise takes advice from the unpopular camp counsellor, Sunset, when her best friend turns against her with the rest of her tentmates. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). The more of these stories I read, the more I realize that L’Engle’s ability to write from the child’s perspective was why I lost myself so easily in The Wrinkle in Time.
2022-03-11 “The Last Truth” by AnaMaria Curtis
Eri is an indentured thief who is earning her freedom by sacrificing her own memories to pick locks. From LeVar Burton Reads and Tor.com (2022) (Read) (Listen). This story reminded me of The Giver by Lois Lowry, but with a better ending.
2022-03-14 “The Regression Test” by Wole Talabi
Titilope is 116 years old and is the human control for a regression test of the AI program made from her mother’s mind 40 years ago. From Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (2017) (Listen). I liked the ending, but the story wasn’t as compelling as my favourite AI stories.
2022-03-14 “White in the Moon the Long Road Lies” by Madeleine L’Engle
Selina is leaving her narrow-minded little southern town to teach in a girls’ school up north. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I had a hard time getting into this one, but the inciting incident is compelling. I wish she had had time to work on this one a little more.
2022-03-15 “Madame, Or . . .” by Madeleine L’Engle
When Mr. Burton agrees to send Nancy to Madame Septmoncel’s Residence for Young Ladies, Walter suspects she is up to something. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I know I’m less than halfway through the book, but this story is the best of them all. It has it. I couldn’t put it down.
2022-03-16 “Victory Lap” by George Saunders
Until a man knocks at her door, Alison Pope and Kyle Boot are self-centred kids; neighbours, but strangers. From The New Yorker (2009) (Read). So many good things: an excellent example of free indirect discourse, cohesive rotating 3rd person subject POV, great use of slang and casual language. Definitely recommend.
2022-03-17 “One Day in Spring” by Madeleine L’Engle
Noel Townshend explores how far she’ll go to get an acting gig. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). Satisfactory, but nothing memorable.
2022-03-19 “Prelude to the First Night Alone” by Madeleine L’Engle
Paul must decide between delusion and self-preservation. Noel Townshend explores how far she’ll go to get an acting gig. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). A perfect little aftermath of a love story. Would read it again.
2022-03-22 “Please Wear Your Rubbers” by Madeleine L’Engle
Tired of her hard work not paying off, Vicky is driven to impulsiveness. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). This story has good ideas, but the timing of events makes it fall a little flat.
2022-03-23 “A Room in Baltimore” by Madeleine L’Engle
A stage actress and her roommate walk the city of Baltimore looking for a hotel that will take dogs. Tired of her hard work not paying off, Vicky is driven to impulsiveness. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). More of an anecdote than a story.
2022-03-23 “A Dark Brown Dog” by Stephen Crane
A child comes across a dog that, despite being in turns abused and beloved by him, is eternally devoted to him. From Cosmopolitan (1901) (Read). This story is powerful in itself, but the additional layer of allegory makes it a classic.
2022-03-23 “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” by Neil Gaiman
A man is devastated to find that along with words, he is forgetting the writer he most admires. From Gizmodo (2012) (Read). This story is built on the mastery of drawing connections between people, literature and time.
2022-03-24 “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
An android tries to figure out what is causing the turret clocks of the surrounding towns to slow down. From Eclipse 2 edited by Jonathan Strahan (2014) (Read) (Listen). I am a sucker for androids who are sympathetic to humans, so this story is in my wheelhouse. I do wish the end was a little tighter though.
2022-03-24 “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
Four survivors of a shipwreck navigating the open sea in a dinghy approach land, and hopefully, rescue. From Scribner’s Magazine (1897) (Read) (Listen). I enjoyed not knowing exactly what was happening as the story neared the end.
2022-03-25 “Dark Spaces on the Map” by Anjali Sachdeva
A woman being interviewed for her memories decides which to reveal to the interviewer. From All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva (2018) (Read) (Listen). I like this story but it didn’t pull me in as deeply as I would have thought.
2022-03-26 “Anatomy of Miracles” by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko
Lucy and the miracle worker are living different lives in very different dimensions and yet their story is the same. From Escape Pod (2020) (Read & Listen). I enjoyed the tension and pacing of this story, but I wanted the link between the characters to feel a little tighter.
2022-03-29 “Julio at the Party” by Madeleine L’Engle
Rebecca and John try to keep things light between John’s colleagues from the university and Rebecca’s friends; thankfully the largest room in their apartment is a combined kitchen and bathroom. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). A very satisfying short-story-y short story.
2022-03-30 “The Foreign Agent” by Madeleine L’Engle
Amy attempts to work her way out from under her mother—sorry, Angel‘s thumb and out into the big wide world. Alone, preferably. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). A cute little coming-of-age tale that is worth reading for L’Engle’s ability to get inside a young adult’s mind.
2022-03-31 “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by DH Lawrence
2022-04-03 “The Moment of Tenderness” by Madeleine L’Engle
Stella is a newcomer to Mt. George and finds herself falling in love with the country doctor’s hands. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). The thought of an affair makes me sad, but somehow L’Engle makes the idea seem so beautifully innocent.
2022-04-03 “Daddy” by Damion Wilson
On top of holding the threads of her family together when tragedy strikes again and again, Tanya is coming to terms with her father’s new ability to teleport into and out of her life. From New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean edited by Karen Lord (Listen). Some stories make me feel better about losing my father—this is one of them.
2022-04-04 “The Foreigners” by Madeleine L’Engle
Safely the old newcomer, Madeleine stands idly by as the Brechsteins (the new-newcomers to Mt. George) make all the wrong moves. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). Explores the rotating positions that exist within a population, but doesn’t really offer anything new.
2022-04-05 “The Fact of the Matter” by Madeleine L’Engle
Old Mrs. Campbell is convinced that the young Mrs. Campbell has it in for her and implores Madeleine Franklin to help her escape. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I feel like L’Engle was exploring a different genre with this one, but doesn’t quite get there.
2022-03-05 “Where I’m Calling From” by Raymond Carver
A man has his girlfriend drive him to Frank Martin’s drying-out facility where he sobers up to the stories of Joe Penny, a fellow former drunk. From The New Yorker (1982) (Listen). This story represents the understated image of alcoholism that I grew up with in the 80s and made me wish it was true.
2022-04-06 “Poor Little Saturday” by Madeleine L’Engle
Running from the pain of malaria, a boy ends up under the care of a witch woman and without realizing the cost of his joy, falls in love with her granddaughter. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I enjoyed L’Engle’s take on Southern Gothic.
2022-04-07 “That Which is Left” by Madeleine L’Engle
Martin left Matilda to look after their ailing parents and told her that if she sent for him, he would come. And he does. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). A beautiful “people can’t change who they are” sort of tale.
2022-04-08 “A Sign for a Sparrow” by Madeleine L’Engle
Robert Stephens may not be the best cryptologist, but he’s the only one small enough to complete the mission. From The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle (2020). I often forget how religious L’Engle was, but there it is!
2022-04-11 “god of destruction” by Neel Patel
Anita Gundapaneni does the uncomfortable but comforting things we do when we are feeling rejected and unloved. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). A story that made me feel uncomfortably seen. Don’t read into that. Also, I think a short story with a female protagonist might be a great way for a male writer to start a collection.
2022-04-12 “hare rama, hare krishna” by Neel Patel
Samir falls in love for the first time while his father flip-flops between his wife and his mistress. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). A coming out story, a love story, and an enjoyable cup of tea.
2022-04-13 “A Good Friday” by Barbara Jenkins
The smooth operation of playboy KarlLee is on shaky ground before the impregnable Sunity. From Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean (2014) (Listen). My favourite part of this story is the richly layered character of Sunity its increasing contrast with the unfortunate character of KarlLee.
2022-04-14 “hey loser” by Neel Patel
One day, Raj is meticulously organizing his medical school notes, and the next he can’t think of anything but Eun-ji. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). I liked the premise of this story but the amount of backstory felt disproportionate to the ending.
2022-04-14 “The Door in the Wall” by HG Wells
Lionel Wallace spends his life intent on getting back to the enchanted garden beyond the door in the wall. From The Door in the Wall, and Other Stories (1911) (Read) (Listen). At 40 years old, I have already discovered the best line ever written in any short story: “Perhaps I was suffering a little from overwork—perhaps it was what I’ve heard spoken of as the feeling of forty. This story does not disappoint.
2022-04-15 “just a friend” by Neel Patel
John dreamed that one day a man would come along and reinvent him somehow, but he didn’t see Ashwin coming. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018) (In Hyphen 2017) (Read). The choice of first-person POV is perfect: its intimacy protects the story’s secrets.
2022-04-15 “All Cats are Grey” by Andre Norton
The adventure of Steena, Bat, and Cliff Moran on the Empress of Mars is a story that will become a legend to future space travellers. Originally printed under her pen name, Andrew North in Fantastic Universe (1953). From Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010) (Read). This story made me roll my eyes but in the old-science-fiction-story kind of way.
2022-04-16 “A Martian Oddyssey” by Stanley G Weinbaum
Dick Jarvis regales the crew of the Ares—Putz, Leroy, and Harrison—of the ten days he spent on Mars’ surface when his auxiliary rocket goes down. Originally published in Wonder Stories (1934). From Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010) (Read). This story is why the theory exists that we aren’t able to leave our galaxy because alien life doesn’t think we’re ready (spoiler alert: we haven’t grown at all since 1934).
2022-04-16 “if you see me, don’t say hi” by Neel Patel
Premel Patel’s brother Deepak is the screw-up, which makes Premel the good son. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). Slice of life. In other words, a bit long, but worth it.
2022-04-17 “the taj mahal” by Neel Patel
It’s Christmas and Sabrina is home where she runs into Mallory and everything else she intended to avoid. Originally published in Indiana Review (2017). From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). Slice of life. In other words, a bit long, but worth it. I think Patel writes female main characters well.
2022-04-17 “Little Man” by Michael Cunningham
Rumplestiltskin wants to have a child more than anything else, and as with all fairy tales, he doesn’t realize what “anything else” means. From The New Yorker (2015) (Read) (Listen). This retelling didn’t really bring anything new to the story that hasn’t been done before (I may love the Once Upon A Time interpretation until I die).
2022-04-18 “the other language” by Neel Patel
An Indian-American teen visits his father’s homeland of Kenya and quickly realizes the price of entitlement. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). The ending is more satisfying than the beginning.
2022-04-18 “Singing on a Star” by Ellen Klages
Becka is six and wants to be treated like a big girl, but when she goes to Jamie’s for a sleepover she isn’t so sure she’s ready to do big girl things. From Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages (2017) (Listen). I liked this one: creepy enough to make you think, but not so creepy that you don’t sleep.
2022-04-19 “these things happen” by Neel Patel
Despite who his family is, where he lives, and who he seems to be, he doesn’t seem to belong, and neither does Tara. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). I like it when the main character can’t stick to their aforementioned moral code.
2022-04-20 “an arrangement” by Neel Patel
Rupa Varma never wanted to marry Akhil, but she doesn’t want anyone else to have him either. Originally from The Southampton Review (2016), read in If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). I like the premise of this story, but it doesn’t quite come together at the end. Maybe that’s the point.
2022-04-20 “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado
She keeps one thing for herself and gives him everything else. Spoiler alert: It’s still not enough. From Granta Magazine (2014) (Read) (Listen). Now, this is a retelling! Machado brings “The Green Ribbon” into the 21st century.
2022-04-21 “world famous” by Neel Patel
Ankur is on a bender after not matching when he hooks up with Anjali and narrowly avoids putting the two of them at the center of community gossip. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). I liked this story, and I liked it even more after I read the linked story that follows it.
2022-04-22 “radha, krishna” by Neel Patel
It is several years after Anjali and Ankur hook up and she is married with children, but can only think of him. From If You Se Mee, Don’t Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (2018). I am not one for epistolary fiction, but the further I read, the more captivated I was by the narrator’s voice. Also, I am a sucker for plots that are anchored to other texts.
2022-04-23 “Alluvial Deposits” by Percival Everett
Not many people want to be hydrologists, and not because Robert Hawks, a contract hydrologist for the Utah Department of Agriculture and the Fish and Game Commission, just got shot at. From Story (1998) (Listen). Cleanly written.
2022-04-24 “The Crowd” by Ray Bradbury
When Mr. Spallner regains consciousness, laying on the ground after an accident, he is consumed by the fact that a crowd had gathered before the wheels on his car stopped spinning. (1943) (Listen) In addition to enjoying characters that aren’t who they say they are, I also like a character who can’t let something go. Nice, short little tale.
2022-04-26 “grand stand-in” by Kevin Wilson
An elderly woman, prized for her ability to disconnect, is a stand-in grandmother to five “fams” for an agency that connects grandparents with families. They would like her to take on an additional, very unusual placement. Originally published in The Cincinnati Review 2,2 (2005) and read in tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). A good story about how much one person’s heart can handle.
2022-04-27 “blowing up on the spot” by Kevin Wilson
Leonard’s parents exploded and while he waits to explode himself he finds himself living his life. Originally published in Ploughshares (2003) and read in tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). This is one of those stories that has so much room to analyze for symbols and messages. Also, the characters are quite autistic. Would recommend.
2022-04-28 “the dead sister handbook: a guide for sensitive boys” by Kevin Wilson
A (questionably) sensitive little brother reveals an excerpt (Laconic Method thru Near Misses) of his survival guide in case of a dead sister. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). I like how this story walks the fine line of “wait, what?” and ends perfectly.
2022-04-29 “birds in the house” by Kevin Wilson
12-year-old Smokey Collier is to determine the outcome of the contest that will decide which of his grandmother’s sons will win what remains of the family wealth, or maybe end the family feud forever. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). Originally published in The Greensboro Review (2005) (Read). Wilson’s command of the red-neck way of talking brought me right back to listening to my dad when he got riled up about something. I love the ending.
2022-05-01 “The Moon is Green” by Fritz Leiber
Effie has been quarantined in nuclear shelters with Hank for more than two years and the desire to see beauty is overwhelming her. Originally published in Galaxy (1952). From Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010) (Read). It is uncomfortable to read dystopian fiction written in the 50s and feel like it could still come true. I like this one.
2022-05-03 “mortal kombat” by Kevin Wilson
Scotty and Wynn are very unpopular and study random facts in the A/V room at lunch. They’re all each other has. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). This story is really about internalized homophobia and the way we learn to abuse ourselves and each other. This story is devastating and excellent.
2022-05-04 “tunneling to the center of the earth” by Kevin Wilson
A trio of newly minted college graduates with meaningless degrees start digging and find a sense of purpose they didn’t know they needed. Originally published in The Frostproof Review and Barcelona Review. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009) (Read). A very relatable story about transitioning between college and real life.
2022-05-05 “the shooting man” by Kevin Wilson
Guster wants to see Bullet guy shoot himself in the face more than anything, something he wouldn’t feel bad about if it weren’t for Sue-Bee. Originally published in Meridian. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). Super satisfying ending.
2022-05-06 “the choir director affair (the baby’s teeth)” by Kevin Wilson
This story is about the biology teacher having an affair with the choir director and definitely not the baby with a full set of teeth. Originally published in The Carolina Quarterly (2004). From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). The imagery is disturbingly and deliciously vivid in this one.
2022-05-07 “go, fight, win” by Kevin Wilson
Penny is new at school and her friendship with a kid in her neighbourhood complicates any desire she has to fit in. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). A little long but sweetly nostalgic.
2022-05-08 “the museum of whatnot” by Kevin Wilson
Janey is the caretaker and sole employee of the Carl Jensen Museum of Whatnot and her mother is concerned that she is going to wake up one day with no children and surrounded by a bunch of things. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). This one, of course, reminds me of autistic special interests and what it is like to find another person as nerdy as me.
2022-05-09 “worst-case scenario” by Kevin Wilson
He’s going to go bald and Stella has left him, but. At least there’s a but. From tunneling to the center of the earth by Kevin Wilson (2009). You know when people find out how you really are and expect you to change? This story is about that but also not.
2022-05-10 “The Winds of Time” by James H Schmidtz
While mysterious Mr Maulbow is still unconscious Gefty persuades the old man’s assistant to help him uncover what kind of cargo he’s brought on board. Originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact (1962) (Read). Read in Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010). This one is more of a novellette (it is 12 000 words, afterall). I like how Schmidtz approaches the question of intelligence.
2022-05-11 “The Defenders” by Philip K Dick
The humans have gone below ground while the earth recovers from nuclear fallout, and on his day off Taylor gets a promotion he’s not sure he wants. Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction (1953) (Read). Read in Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010). I like the portrayal of nationalism. I will definitely re-read and recommend this one.
2022-05-12 “Missing Link” by Frank Herbert
Taking a suicide mission is a quick way to move up in the ranks or . . . Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction (1953) (Read). Read in Great Classic Science Fiction: Eight Unabridged Stories (2010). I like that the fate of Orne could have gone either way at the end.
2022-05-13 “The Crossing” by Chris Power
One day into a four-day hike with a guy she’d met only a couple of weeks before, Ann is regretting she’d done more than just sleep with him. Originally published in Mothers: Stories by Chris Power. Read in Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). I like the way that backstory is woven in and I love the end.
2022-05-14 “Mrs Fox” by Sarah Hall
He loves his wife more than she loves him so it hurts all the more that she is slipping from his grasp. Originally published in Madame Zero: 9 Stories by Sarah Hall. Read in Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). The more I think about it, the more I love this story.
2022-05-15 “The First Punch” by John McGregor
A man is reeling from a sucker punch to the gut when he recalls the first him this man’s wife touched him, along the back of his head and down the nape of his neck. Originally published in Granta (2003) (Read). From Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). I enjoyed the tension McGregor builds by switching between the harsh reality of the present and the haziness of the past.
2022-05-16 “Theophrastus and the Dancing Plague” by Jessie Greengrass
Paracelsus, a wandering physician, alchemist, heretic, and mercenary reports on the dancing plague of 1526 in kind of a judgy way. Originally published in An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It: A John Murray Original by Jessie Greengrass (2015). From Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). A historical fiction account of a time that has never interested me, so if I am honest, I had a hard time getting into this story. Greengrass wrote it beautifully served the short story form well–it just isn’t a story I would choose to read.
2022-06-06 “A Monster in the Shape of a Boy” by Hannah Yang
When Peng freezes the first time he comes face to face with the Yaoguai on his own, his training increases, but he can’t seem to shake his doubts. From Apex Magazine (2022) (Read) In true short story fashion: when you get to the end, you will want to read it again.
2022-06-07 “Feast” by Ross Showalter
A sole Deaf person goes to a hearing party. He wanted to do something different, but it ends up being the same. From The Rumpus (2022) (Read). Every scene break brought that tiny pit of dread that there might be none left to read. Especially the end.
2022-06-08 “Hair” by Mahreen Sohail
When the boyfriend’s mother loses all her hair in illness and the boy doesn’t have enough hair for a wig, the girlfriend makes the necessary sacrifice. From Granta (2020) (Read with paywall), read in Reverse Engineering (2022). I like the way the POV reveals the way that women are brought up to think about the action they take in relationships.
2022-06-29 “Gooseberries” by Anton Chekhov
Ivan Ivanych regales his friends Berkin, a high school teacher, and Alyohin, a gentleman farmer, with the moral tale of his brother’s successes. Originally published in Russkaya Mysl (1898) (Read). An excellent satirical examination of the division of class.
2022-06-29 “The Professor’s Houses” by Ursula K Le Guin
The professor has two houses, one inside the other. Published in The New Yorker (1982). The development of the central character’s motivations was particularly well done in this story.
2022-07-01 “The Devil Buys Us Cheap and the Devil Buys in Bulk” by M Bennardo
Carita gets what she needs but can’t take it without knowing how. Published in Mathila Review (2019) (Read). I’m a bit neutral about this story, though I enjoyed the exploration of who has the authority to proclaim a sin a sin.
2022-07-01 “The Pill” by Meg Elison
She’s called munchkin because she’s always munching, not because she’s small. In fact, she’s fat, and so was her whole family. Published in The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol 2 (2021) (Read). Everyone needs to read this story and then have a good long think. I love Meg’s subversion of skinny culture.
2022-07-13 “A November Storm” by Chris Bogle
Harry, a 73-year-old retired metal worker, thinks about death often but does things he doesn’t enjoy to avoid it. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). Every page I turned I hoped he wouldn’t end it there.
2022-07-13 “Tin Can Elegy” by Tessa Swack-Hammer
Kid wishes to be the biggest, to have a name, and to have someone to call it, but what she has is a makeshift scimitar. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I like a story that gets a little grim.
2022-07-13 “Tongues/Lips/Wrists/Teeth” by Kasandra Ferguson
Eileen needs more and more alcohol to numb the change that will overtake her anyway. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). If you liked Mrs. Fox by Sarah Hall, you will like this story.
2022-07-13 “Overspill” by Aoife Esmonde
A new mother must balance her baby’s incessant need to feed with her own. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I like the twists and turns of the plot in this story.
2022-07-13 “Tim, the Lantern Holder” by Sandy Parsons
Tim must decide if adulation is worth the price of his dreams. If he can remember them, that is. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I like the way this flash piece seamlessly crosses over from real to fantastic.
2022-07-13 “A Man is Fishing on the Bank of a River” by Samuel Skuse
The man and the fish have an agreement that he will enjoy the fishing, then buy fresh fish on his way home. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I like the premise of this story, but the continuity is a little off.
2022-07-13 “Where the Sun is Always Setting” by Daniel Ray
After seven years, Luis is the last of the original survivors tending the fires. New, younger burners are coming on and he finds himself tending them as well. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). This is a truly satisfying story. I love how smoothly Ray shifts between dialogue, action and exposition.
2022-07-14 “Disloyal Order” by Courtney Smyth
It has always been Emma and Fi. Fi and Emma. Except Emma always comes first. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I like the way that the plot embodies the coming-of-age story.
2022-07-14 “Of Elwood and Stones and Guilded Bones” by Mei Davis
Living with the exiled on the outskirts of the village, you work and rise through the ranks as you have again and again. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). A compelling rescue mission that could take place in the past or the future. It was a bit long.
2022-07-15 “One of These Days” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Aurelio Escovar, a dentist without a degree, must remove the mayor’s tooth or die. Published in Los funerales de la Mama Grande (1962). I love the demonstration of power in this story.
2022-07-15 “Care Instructions for Your Cryogenically Frozen Mother” by Helena Pantsis
Instead of death, your mother chooses to be frozen in time, but can you keep her alive? From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I enjoyed Pantsis’ take on the parent-child relationship. I think flash pieces are better for anthologies than novellas!
2022-07-16 “The Last Airport in America” by Holden Wertheimer-Meier
You are in the midst of nuclear war but running for safety (they promised). From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). I liked the premise of this one, and how he resolved it.
2022-07-17 “Margins of Snow” by Brigitte de Valk
Jaqueline’s mother dies suspiciously and while she awaits each step of the investigation, she roils in grief. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). My personal preference has never been for poetic short stories, but this line: Nocturnality had infected her. The morning was a thought that she knew existed, deep inside her, but had not witnessed in such a while. There are many more like it.
2022-07-18 “One Flap of a Storm Crow’s Wings” by Jamie Perrault
Algar the traveller shelters his baby and a lost little boy from a raging storm, then as he is bid by his god, helps the boy reconcile to the destruction of his home. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). Has compelling bones, but it feels a little raw.
2022-07-19 “Or Just After” by Liza Wieland
Nisha and her boyfriend have just broken up and she needs to make a decision that is all her own, even if it is the wrong one. From The Last Five Minutes of a Storm edited by Sam Agar, Paula Dias Garcia, and Marc Clohessy (2022). The kind of coming of age moment where you stand by a character struggling to make the choice that’s good for them.
2022-07-19 “The Egg” by Sherwood Anderson
A young man surmises how he attributes becoming a glooming man to his father’s seeming obsession with eggs. Originally published in 1921. Read in Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, 2nd Ed. Lately, I am especially annoyed by the whining of white, middle-class, American men. Besides that, it was good.
2022-07-29 “True Trash” by Margaret Atwood
Joanne of the waitresses and Donny of the campers relay their respective sides to the story of their last summer at Camp Adanaqui. Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). This story ended exactly when it should of and I hated it. Beautiful.
2022-07-30 “Hairball” by Margaret Atwood
Kat goes in for an ovarian cyst and the magazine muddles on without her. Originally published in The New Yorker as “Kat” in 1990. Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). An exemplary introduction. The first few paragraphs are a perfect example of when George Saunders talks about good writing being a sentence that makes you want to read the next sentence.
2022-08-01 “Isis in Darkness” by Margaret Atwood
Richard desperately tries to piece together Selina’s life. Or Selina. Or himself. Originally published in Granta (1990) (Read). Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). The ultimate pretentious poet trying not to be pretentious. Sometimes I never want to read another 80s/90s short story.
2022-08-02 “Lost in the Funhouse” by John Barth
Ambrose is a precocious child and analyses himself as only a precocious child written by an adult would. The first publication is impossible to find because it comes from a collection of the same name. Read in Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, 2nd Ed. (1989). A postmodern story intentionally working against realism. Interesting shifts in POV but I am in a mood these days and this one tested my patience.
2022-08-03 “The Bog Man” by Margaret Atwood
In a time before sexual harassment, Julie seduced her professor. Originally published in Playboy (1991) (Read). Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). I like that this was published in Playboy but I am also bothered by the fact that their readers wouldn’t be offended by this piece. I enjoyed the presence of knitting and that the knitting speaks for itself. (I am obviously still in a mood.)
2022-08-05 “A Dill Pickle” by Katherine Mansfield
When Vera comes across a former lover and they get to reminiscing, she wonders if her memories paint an accurate picture of this man she loved. Originally published in New Age Magazine (1917) (Read). Read in Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, 2nd Ed. (1989). A compelling take on memory and relationships that continues to be relevant more than 100 years later.
2022-08-06 “Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood
With the death of her husband and the boys out of the house, Lois is subsumed by a second shadowy life. Originally published in Saturday Night (1989). Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). One of those stories that begins at the end. I’m not sure how I feel about the exposition when Lois is in the camp founder’s office. Is it too grown up?
2022-08-08 “Uncles” by Margaret Atwood
After Susanna’s father dies, her uncles step in to help her mother out and instill in her the loving support she can expect from a man. Real men, it turns out, aren’t that loving or supportive. Originally published in Saturday Night (1990). Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). It is incredible how one unexplainable betrayal can undo all the trust a person has in themself. Still relevant.
2022-08-09 “The Age of Lead” by Margaret Atwood
Jane doesn’t watch much tv because it is too close to real life, but tonight she is watching the unearthing of the preserved remains of a man who died during the Franklin Expedition as she considers her descent into exactly who her mother thought she would become. Originally published in Toronto Life (1989). Read in Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (1991). This one explores the paradox of being an independent woman, and being bread to be fulfilled by family. Still relevant.
2022-08-20 “Skyscrapers” by Alejandro Zambra (Translated by Megan McDowell)
Breaking out from under his father’s thumb, he finds solace in her instead of himself. From The New Yorker (2022). Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen). I like the intimacy of a character in this story also being the listener.
2022-08-20 “Filamo” by Irenosen Okojie
In Filamo’s pocket is a tongue and the fate of monks. Originally published in An Unreliable Guide to London edited by Kit Caless (2016). Read in Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). Part of expiramentalism/absurdism. Many interesting images, but it didn’t really add up for me. I like the unexpectedness of the central character.
2022-08-21 “The Flier” by Joseph O’Neill
What exactly happens when you suddenly have the ability to fly. Originally published in The New Yorker (2019). Read in Reverse Engineering edited by Tom Conaghan (2022). I think I am developing a passion for speculative fiction. I enjoy the way that the fantastic is woven with the ordinary in this story.
2022-08-21 “The Muddle” by Sana Krasikov
Shura and Alyona have been friends since their school days but lately, with war and pride, it has been hard for Shura to reach Alyona. Originally published in The New Yorker (2022) (Read). Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen). The story felt a little loose at the beginning but tightened up about two-thirds in. I liked the ending.
2022-08-22 “Elmhurst” by Han Ong
Shara is brilliant enough to transcend Elmhurst, though her mother doubts her dedication, citing the distracting boy in the window. Originally published in The New Yorker (2022) (Read). Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen). Shara isn’t exactly likeable and I like that.
2022-08-22 “You Tell Me” by Clare Sestanovich
Rachel, Janet’s oldest, suggests Janet go spend some time with Sasha, her youngest, to comfort her during a depressive episode, but being there is about as far as she gets. Originally published in The New Yorker (2022) (Read). Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen).
2022-08-25 “Ghetto University” by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
James takes up mugging to keep him and his wife from being evicted when he can’t find employment at a university. But he doesn’t carry a weapon or make demands of his “patrons”, so he’s more of an aggressive beggar? Originally published in The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories by Maurice Carlos Ruffin. Listened to on the Ursa Short Fiction podcast (Listen). I liked the ending of this one, but I felt the premise has been done.
2022-08-26 “Hello, Goodbye” Steward Hotston
Itsay is satisfied that he has worked hard enough to be digitally transferred to another body when the virus finally takes him, but unfortunately, success isn’t as simple as that. From Night, Rain, and Neon: A New Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Michael Cobley. I like the premise and the ending of this story, but it is a little bit loose.
2022-09-03 “Trash” by Souvankham Thammavongsa
A woman gets swept off her feet by a wealthy man she meets in her cashier line at the grocery store only to become the pet project of his mother. Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen)(Read). I like how this story makes us question the various masks people wear before we find out who they are and what they really think.
2022-09-04 “Four Green Fields, and Fair” by Ian McDonald
Corporate sponsorship, rebranding, and agents are just a part of Ciara’s superhero life—strut, battle, pose, repeat. From Night, Rain, and Neon: A New Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Michael Cobley. I like stories with a realistic take on something we romanticize. Super immersive story with a catchy premise.
2022-09-05 “All the Precious Years” by Al Robertson
Laurent battles multinational hackers as a contract neurotech operative, but he can’t save his mother from dementia. From Night, Rain, and Neon: A New Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Michael Cobley. Robertson’s imagery and worldbuilding are compelling, but the story could have used a heavier editing hand for clarity and at times conciseness.
2022-09-06 “Evolution” by Joan Silber
Cara runs away with Brody, who she is endeared to by his body rather than love or adoration. Listened to on The Writer’s Voice podcast (Listen)(Read). A modernist literary fiction story with subtle story elements. I enjoyed the nostalgic representation of the 80s.
2022-09-11 “Truth and Fiction” by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Clive Peters’ imagination got him into a hairy situation, and it seems that self-same imagination will be his only way out. Originally titled “The Stranger With a Bag.” Listened to on The New Yorker: Fiction podcast (Listen)(Read behind paywall). It is extra satisfying when a story begins with the middling day-to-day and culminates in a gothic horror mic drop.
2022-09-12 “Forever in Scotland” by Callum McSorley
Dana desperately needs the cashish to get her and her maw out of Scotland, a sum only possible by confronting the mogal grandfather she’s never really known. From Night, Rain, and Neon: A New Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Michael Cobley. A compelling story told in present tense.
2022-09-13 “Assets” by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown
On their reckless quest for novelty, the consciousness inhabiting Eli Dakane sees the perfect opportunity in an unexpected encounter with an old friend. From Night, Rain, and Neon: A New Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Michael Cobley. The premise is interesting but the writing is inconsistent and cliché.