2023 Short Story Reading Log

I have slipped out from beneath the ashes of last year’s failure and started a new secret commitment to this year, and I’m ready to go public. 365 stories in 365 days. I have cheated a little, giving myself almost two months to decide if I can keep up the story-a-day tradition, and I believe I can (with a few little changes from last year):

  • For each story, I’ll include the date read, title, author, run-on-sentence summary, publication details, my opinion and my star rating (search the page for “5 stars” to see my very favourites.)
  • Rather than pretending I can read a story a day, I’m going straight for 365 stories in 365 days. (Although I didn’t fall off the wagon until January 7th this year!)
  • Though I prefer to deep-dive the story with my eyeballs, I’ve got some short story podcasts lined up in case I need a story on the go.
  • Sometimes the thing that would stop me from reading a story is having to log it! This year, if I can’t find publication details with a quick search, I just won’t include them.
  • I’m going to check in each month to see how I’m doing so I don’t get too far behind.

Despite all of this, I’m already a bit behind! Fingers crossed I can make it up with some weekend reading! (And if you have a reading log, link to it in the comments so I can cheer you on.)


NOV | OCT | SEP | AUG | JUL | JUN | MAY |APR | MAR | FEB | JAN


UPDATE: 2023 in Review

Well. I certainly fell off the reading wagon in the second half of this year! I ended up recording 19 fewer stories than last year, though I know I listened to a bunch of Stuart McLean and caught up on some LeVar Burton Reads in October, November, and December, but just didn’t write them down. Record keeping, however much I love spreadsheets, is often my downfall!

Since January 1st, I’ve read 208 stories, written over the course of 181 years by 31 different authors, found in more than 56 publications, including 1 anthology and 13 collections. The authors came from 11 different countries with the majority from the USA, England, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, 87% of which were/are white. (I need to keep diversity in mind as I read next year.)

This year I many more collections and anthologies than one-off stories. I am pleased to have the whole Sherlock canon under my belt now. I finished The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. I also finished Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks, The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild, South to That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen, The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury, Dubliners by James Joyce, and Dancing Girls and Other Stories and Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood.

Not a bad year overall! And, I did make up for my lack of short story reading with an increase in short story editing this year, by a large margin (thank you all for that!). I look forward to more reading adventures in 2024.

November

2023-11-21 “Old Babes in the Wood” by Margaret Atwood

Nell hurts herself while she and her sister Lizzie are cleaning out the cabin after Tig dies. Originally published in The New Yorker (2021). Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). This story is what I imagine when someone says “slice of life.” It takes place at a pivotal time in life, something is happening, but nothing really gets resolves, and it leaves you thoughtful about life. 4 stars.

2023-11-20 “Wooden Box” by Margaret Atwood

Nell is examining how the “without Tig” phase of her life is  similar the “starving student” phase, but with less joy and less certainty. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I’m not a huge fan of literary fiction pieces that take place entirely in the main character’s thoughts, but she made it real and vulnerable. 4 stars.

2023-11-19 “Widows” by Margaret Atwood

Nel replies to a letter from Stevie across the chasm that separates them now. Originally published in The Guardian (2023). Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I enjoyed the way the character entrusts the reader in this one. I can relate to what she says, but I am curious how it would be different if I was 30 years older. 3.5 stars.

2023-11-18 “A Dusty Lunch” by Margaret Atwood

Nel is reading the old letters and poems by Tig’s father and feeling duplicitous. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). This story is another that drags on with that tension that something might happen. I guess something kind of does? Am I being too judgy? 3 stars.

2023-11-16 “Airborne: A Symposium” by Margaret Atwood

Myrna’s inner monologue on controversial authorial debuts and the bottomless pit of word fashion, paired with an interesting new cheese, a bad dye job, and an incomplete committee of aging biddies. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). Encompassing the full evolution of the modern short story, we begin with another third-person mirror description of the main character and move into the evolution of feminism and cancel culture. Good tension building, clear characters, but I’m on the fence. 3.5 stars.

2023-11-15 “Giving Birth” by Margaret Atwood

The story of Jeannie giving birth or being given birth to, depending on how you look at it. Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). So haunting. I love this story on a personal level, and it is one that will unfold in me for a long time.  5 stars.

2023-11-14 “Metempsychosis: Or, The Journey of the Soul” by Margaret Atwood

A snail finds her soul transferred into the body of a female human, the supposed pinacle of evolution, where she has a somewhat destructive crisis of identity. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). The preachy tone of the story made it hard for me to get to the end, which is really quite good. The story reminded me of The Edible Woman, but overall, I feel like Margaret wrote this for herself.  3.5 stars.

2023-11-13 “Dancing Girls” by Margaret Atwood

After Ann’s neighbour vacated her room in the boarding house, a new man moved in and Mrs. Nolan became uncomfortable. Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). Progressive stories from the 70’s are sometimes good in the same way Star Trek TOS episodes are good. This is one of those. 3.5 stars.

2023-11-12 “Freeforall” by Margaret Atwood

Charmaine Humboldt Grey is first mother, the matriarch in charge of arranging marriages for uncontaminated young people in The Least House. She is aging and given to wool gathering. Originally published in the Toronto Star newspaper (1986). Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I try and listen to these stories as if they aren’t written by a Very Famous Author. I don’t think the character-looking-in-the-mirror trope, or the super long digression as the character walks would go unedited if anyone else submitted this one for publication. But the unfolding complexity of the speculative world is bloody masterful. 4 stars.

2023-11-11 “Lives of the Poets” by Margaret Atwood

Julia’s nose is bleeding in a hotel room where she’s waiting to give a poetry reading. She’s trying to call Bernie, who is waiting at home for her call. Published in Saturday Night. Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). I liked the lapsing between 1st person and 3rd person POV, the layering of the plotline and character arc, and the ending. Metafiction can grate, but in this one it is nicely folded into the story. Is this a 5? 4 stars (for now).

2023-11-09 “Death By Clamshell” by Margaret Atwood

Hypatia of Alexandria describes her death and comments on the various depictions of her since. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I’m not a huge fan of cautionary tales–I often feel like I can see right through them. But, I had to look up who the goddess was in the story, so my opinion is rather moot. 3.5 stars.

2023-11-08 “Training” by Margaret Atwood

Rob is supposed to follow the family tradition become a doctor but he’s sensitive, so his father sends him to work at a camp for crippled children. Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). There are so few stories that include disability without making it the plotline. This story is outstanding in terms of disability representation, and not just for the time. Its portrayal of systemic ableism is spot on. I can’t believe it’s never been reprinted. 5 stars.

2023-11-07 “Bad Teeth” by Margaret Atwood

Lynn is sure that Chilla is lying, but not so sure that she can’t rule out having lost her own mind. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). As I creep closer to the age where you doubt your memory, I resonated with this one. If you don’t like teeth, maybe avoid. 4 stars.

2023-11-05 “The Resplendent Quetzal” by Margaret Atwood

Edward is a birder. Sarah is no longer indulgent. Edward no longer fawns over her. Sarah is grieving. Originally published in The Malahat Review (1977). Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). I am a sucker Margaret’s skillful unfurling of plut. It just. I just liked it a lot. Though if I’m realistic, this particular story is probably not better than those I know are good stories but don’t particularly like. Ratings are so subjective. 4 stars.

September

2023-09-11 “Detour” by Joyce Carol Oates

Abigail is on her way home when she encounters a detour. Though she is tempted to ignore it, she doesn’t trust herself enough to go against the grain. Read in Harper’s Magazine (2021). The beginning felt a little contrived, but once I got into it the tension built and the end satisfied. 4 stars.

2023-09-04 “The Hitch-Hiker” by Roald Dahl

A writer who can finally afford a nice car for himself remembers the number of nice cars that ignored his thumb at the side of the road and picks up a hitch-hiker. Originally published in Atlantic Monthly (1977). Just a great descritpion of two characters interacting. I didn’t find the hitch-hikers skill all that believable though, since there is no hint of it as the story progresses. 4 stars.

2023-09-03 “The Umbrella Man” by Roald Dahl

A wizened old man approaches an especially suspicious mother and her daughter standing in the rain and asks them if he can trade his silk umbrella for the cab fare home. Originally published in Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl (1979). Read online. I enjoyed the clash of generations in this one. 4 stars.

2023-09-02 “Poison” by Roald Dahl

Timber Woods finds Harry Pope has waited for hours, stricken in his bed for hours for him to arrive, not moving for fear that a venmous krait has slpped onto his stomach beneath his covers and fallen asleep. Originally published in Colliers (1950). Read online. Masterful development of subtext. 4 stars.

2023-09-01 “Skin” by Roald Dahl

As old Drioli shuffles along a Paris street he comes across a painting in a window by an old friend, which transports him back to his fondest memory of their friendship. Originally published in The New Yorker (1952). Read online. This story reminds me of the Russian stories that George Saunders analyses in A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I wonder if Dahl was trying for a Russian style in addition to the Russian character? If so, well done.

August

2023-08-31 “The Fortune Teller” by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis

Camillo falls in love with his best friend’s wife, Rita and in desperation, Rita goes to the local fortune teller to ease her mind. Originally published in Gazeta de Notícias do Rio de Janeiro (1884). Listened to on Classic Tales Podcast. I like how this story plays with the lines we draw in the sand and what it takes for us to cross them. 3.5 stars.

2023-08-24 “The Gray Man” by Sarah Orne Jewett

A man daring enough to move into the haunted shack on the old seafarer’s property arrives in the village. Originally published in A White Heron and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett (1886). Read in Complete Works of Sarah Orne Jewett (2020). I love how Jewett handles the tension that the rumours in the town build around the stranger in the shack. 4 stars.

2023-08-23 “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett

A young girl’s work is interrupted by a young hunter lost in the woods. She must decide whether winning his admiration is worth losing the white heron. Spoiler alert! A White Heron and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett (1886). Read in Complete Works of Sarah Orne Jewett (2020). I love how Sylvia doesn’t succumb to the call of romance, but instead grows stronger into her self. 4 stars.

2023-08-22 “Jenny Garrow’s Lovers” by Sarah Orne Jewett

Margery tells the story of the fate of her friend Jenny Garrow and the brothers who loved her. Originally published in The Flag of Our Union (1868). Read in Complete Works of Sarah Orne Jewett (2020). This story has all the trimmings, a sassy narrator, a gossipy tone, love, murder, intrigue! 18 year old Sarah Orne Jewett was going places and she didn’t even know it. 4 stars.

2023-08-21 “The Flight of Betsey Lane” by Sarah Orne Jewett

After one of the older ladies in the Byfleet poor-house shed chamber told the story of an octogenarian who went off to sail the world, Betsey Lane sets of in the dead of night on her own adventure.  Originally published in Scribner’s Magazine. Read in Complete Works of Sarah Orne Jewett (2020). The first time I listened to this, I heard wrong and thought the setting was the Byfleed Whore house. The story is still a lovely story of female autonomy, but would have been even better had I been correct. 4 stars.

2023-08-10 “Colonel Stonesteel’s Genuine Home-made Truly Egyptian Mummy” by Ray Bradbury

Charlie Flagstaff is bored in only the way a 12-year-old small-town boy can be bored, so he makes a bet with Colonel Stonesteel. Originally published in Omni (1981). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). One of those adult-sympathetic-to-child feel-good stories. I wonder if Stuart McLean read Ray Bradbury? 4 stars.

2023-08-09 “The Thing at the Top of the Stairs” by Ray Bradbury

Emil Cramer has a wait over in Chicago before his next train and decides to make a short trip to his home town where he visits his childhood home and confronts his memories. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). Great use of free indirect discourse to get inside the character’s head. Not a huge fan of the cliffhanger ending, but the rest of the story is cute. 3 stars.

2023-08-08 “The Tombstone” by Ray Bradbury

Leota and her Oklahoma husband have traveled for four days to reach a new city where her husband rents an apartment with a tombstone in the center of it. Originally published in Weird Tales Magazine (1945). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). A clever classic midcentury story. A different take on the hysterical woman trope, though I’m not sure if it’s better.

2023-08-07 “Junior” by Ray Bradbury

Albert Beam awakens at his age to Albert Junior standing at attention and calls in the troops. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). It is about precisely what you think it’s about, but not. 3.5 stars.

2023-08-04 “Come, and Bring Constance!” by Ray Bradbury

George, or Bill pleads ignorance to his wife about an invitation to a party for him and another woman. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). The style of this story is quick and silly and reminds me of a writing exercise. Unfortunately, the portrayal of women is very 1950s-and-didn’t-age-well. 2.5 stars.

2023-08-01 “Long Division” by Ray Bradbury

A husband and wife quarrel passionately over the division of assets. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I really like the passion and satire of this story, but the ending is a bit heavy handed. 3 stars.

July

2023-07-31 “A Touch of Petulance” by Ray Bradbury

Jonathan Hughes is visited by his future self bearing a warning he can’t ignore. Originally published in Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror edited by Kirby McCauley (1980). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). The ending of this one is perfect. 4 stars.

2023-07-30 “By the Numbers!” by Ray Bradbury

A man never forgets observing a father playing drill sergeant with his young son. Originally published in Playboy (1984). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). This story doesn’t quite satisfy. It is built entirely on an assumption made by the narrator. I think it undermines the turning point of the story. 3 stars.

2023-07-26 “Sometimes, A Motherless Child” by Austin Clarke

A black mother hurries her hair appointment to get home to her son with the stories of black men being abused by the police punctuating her steps. Originally published in In This City by Austin Clarke (1992). Listened to on the Writers Off the Page Podcast. It is such a gift to hear an author’s work in progress. I love the line about the penis, how the crowd laughs, and then he keeps reading the description of it. I look forward to having the book one day and reading this story in its finished form. 4.5 stars.

2023-07-25 “Doing Right” by Austin Clarke

A friend watches helplessly as his green hornet friend tumbles blindly toward a fate that is obvious to everyone around him. Listened to on the Writers Off the Page Podcast. Austin Clarke is a master at weaving comedy into the darkest social issues. This story is very funny and deeply sad. 3.5 stars.

2023-07-25 “Four Stations in His Circle” by Austin Clarke

Brewster watches as his friend Jefferson Theophilus Bell works doggedly to achieve the status that grants him the respect that white men get from the colour of their skin. Listened to on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. This is the first story I’ve read of Austin Clarke. I love how it is lightly framed by the thoughts of Brewster, and dives so deeply into the conflicting thoughts of Bell. I am hooked. 5 stars.

2023-07-20 “Bless Me, Father, for I have Sinned” by Ray Bradbury

Father Mello awakes in the middle of the night to the irresistable urge to open the church and take his place in the confessional. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). This is a great little flash fiction piece. I can’t find any previous publication credits, but it feels like one that might have been written early in Bradbury’s career. 4 stars.

2023-07-18 “At Midnight, in the Month of June” by Ray Bradbury

Tom Dillon is waiting in the dark to be found–a grown up version of hide-and-seek. Originally published in Ellery Quen’s Mystery Magazine (1954). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I think the “We” in the first line is supposed to be “He.” I love the breadth of Bradbury’s storytelling. This is a great tale from the POV of the antagonist.

2023-07-17 “One for His Lordship, and One for the Road!” by Ray Bradbury

Donne brings news that Lord Kilgotten has died and the local boys move to seize his wine cellars for their own. Originally published in Playboy (1985). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). A cute satire about interpreting the letter of the law. 4 stars.

2023-07-15 “The Love Affair” by Ray Bradbury

Despite the war between their people, a martian can’t resist the allure of an earth woman. Originally published in The Love Affair by Ray Bradbury (1982). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). Interesting story that calls into question both the colonizer/colonized and patriarchal power dynamics. 3 stars.

2023-07-14 “Promises, Promises” by Ray Bradbury

Tom is inconsolable when Laura lets her into her apartment. Funny how the tables turn. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). The characters in this story weren’t nuanced enough to make the story feel like a world of its own. I couldn’t get invested. 3 stars.

2023-07-13 “Banshee” by Ray Bradbury

Douglas Rogers delivers his finished script to John the director, who will stop at nothing to get his goat. Originally published in Twilight Zone Magazine (1984). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). Sometimes I feel like this collection is a throw together of all the stories he never published. This one certainly starts out that way, but the end makes it worth it. 3 stars.

2023-07-12 “Lafayette, Farewell” by Ray Bradbury

Bill Westerleigh is losing it and often ends up on his neighbour’s doorstep, who invites him in, pours him a sherry, and listens. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I cried at the end of this one too. I love the blend of reality and memory in this one. So good. 5 stars.

2023-07-11 “I Suppose You Are Wondering Why We Are Here?” by Ray Bradbury

A man who is growing estranged from his daughters invites his dead parents to dinner and learns more about himself than he bargained. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I didn’t love the stereotypical 50s housewife trope (surprise!), but it does fit the time. This story reminds me a little of Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book. 3 stars.

2023-07-08 “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair” by Ray Bradbury

Ollie and Stan’s love affair begins at a party. Originally published in Playboy (1987). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). This story is as torrid as the affair. And the ending made me cry. 4 stars.

2023-07-07 “The Last Circus” by Ray Bradbury

Doug and Red Tongue are sitting and waiting when the circus cars pull up on the railway but when it leaves, something inside Doug leaves with it. Originally published in The Last Circus and The Electrocution (1980). Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). The way Bradbury writes passing of time at the beginning is a bit hard to follow, but the ending is one of my favourites. 3.5 stars.

2023-07-06 “West of October” by Ray Bradbury

Cecy has the power move a soul from one body to another, and her four cousins have come to have their turns. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). One of my top ten first paragraphs. I love this story, but there are times when the descriptions of the characters powers can go on a little long. 3.5 stars.

2023-07-05 “One for the Road” by Stephen King

A man and his family are stranded in a snowstorm when their car stalls out so he walks to the nearest pub and finds himself embroiled in the middle of a horror story. Originally published in Maine (1977). Read online. His description of a Maine blizzard is visceral. Good classic monster story. 3.5 stars.

2023-07-05 “One Night in Your Life” by Ray Bradbury

A man is driving east from LA to New York after his divorce and reminisces about the dreams of his youth. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). An example of how too much description of everything can blur the focus of the reader. 3 stars.

June

2023-06-20 “The Dead” by James Joyce

Gabriel Conroy and his wife attend the family dinner at his aunts, where he allays his worries with racy thoughts of his wife that he hopes he can bring to fruition later at their hotel. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This is supposed to be the best short story ever written. The pressure! I don’t agree? Not because the story and subtext aren’t stirring! I just can’t help but compare it’s wordiness to to spareness of all the other stories in the collection. The two parts of the story feel disconnected, and I think by being more concise, the story would have been more unified and impactful. 3.5 stars.

2023-06-19 “Grace” by James Joyce

When Mr. Kernan is found having bitten through his tongue lying on the floor of the bar lavatory, his wife inspires his friends to help him get sober. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This is another one of the stories where I had to look up a lot of the allusions to understand that the story isn’t what it seems. I enjoyed it once I got it, but I still feel out of my depth. 3.5 stars.

2023-06-18 “A Mother” by James Joyce

Mrs Kearney arranges a contract for her daughter Kathleen to accompany four concerts on the piano and is not willing to settle for less than she was promised. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This story, wow. I think Joyce was a feminist? I felt terribly uncomfortable about Mrs. Kearney’s constant hounding of the men for the money they owed, and then even more uncomfortable that I would fault her. I won’t forget this story for a long time. 5 stars.

2023-06-17 “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” by James Joyce

Mat O’Connor and some other canvassers discuss the imminent visit of the King, the labour and the nationalists, and who will stand for Irish Independence. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). The opening scene in this story is an incredible example of setting a scene. This is another story where I wish that my knowledge of Irish history and politics was more than it is. 4 stars.

2023-06-16 “A Painful Case” by James Joyce

Mr. James Duffy is settled into his life as an old recluse, surrounded by his books and manuscripts until his equanimity is unsettled by Mrs Emily Sinico. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). Everything Mr. Duffy does is so maddeningly characteristic of Mr. Duffy. I couldn’t get Thoreau’s Walden Pond out of my head the entire time I read this story. 4 stars.

2023-06-15 “Clay” by James Joyce

The other maids hope that Maria will draw the ring when she takes All Hallows Eve off of work to go visit the family of her ex charges. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). SPOILER ALERT: This story made me sad. I wanted so badly for Maria to wake up, but at the same time, I felt it was better for her not to. 4 stars.

2023-06-14 “Counterparts” by James Joyce

Mr Farrington tells off his boss in front of the whole office, which makes a great story to tell the boys at the bar, but too much for drinking to help him forget. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This story is a good example of taking your time introducing the main character. The title is an excellent one for the subtext of the story. 4 stars.

2023-06-13 “A Little Cloud” by James Joyce

Little Chandler spends the evening with a friend from his bachelor days and comes home in a resentful mood to his son crying and his wife angry he forgot the coffee. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This is one of the stories in this collection that makes me remember that these kind of deeply personal thoughts were new to literature. It is incredible to see how much influence Joyce had on literary fiction. 4 stars.

2023-06-12 “The Boarding House” by James Joyce

When she’s sure that Polly and Mr. Doran have been having relationships, Polly’s mother interceedes to seal the deal. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). This story has all the trappings of a love story, without the love. Ugh. I could eat it! 4

2023-06-11 “Two Gallants” by James Joyce

Corley accompanies Lenehan to meet the servant girl he’s been frequenting and starts to doubt Lenehan’s word. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). There is so much to this story, and I feel like much of it is out of complete grasp. What I could brush my fingertips against is a well orchestrated tour of a man’s mind. 4 stars.

2023-06-10 “After the Race” James Joyce

Jimmy Doyle and some wealthy friends head to a yacht to celebrate France’s win at an international car race in Dublin. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). The tension building in this story is great, partially because the ending, if in character, feels inevitable. 4 stars.

2023-06-09 “Eveline” by James Joyce

Miss Hill is having doubts about running away with Frank and leaving her drunken father behind. Originally published in The Irish Homestead (1904). Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). The representation of faith as the devil you know seems like an act of revolution. I think Joyce did an excellent job writing from the female POV. This story is still so entirely relatable. 4 stars.

2023-06-08 “Araby” by James Joyce

A young boy is infatuated with his friends sister and must get to the bazaar, if only to get her a gift. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). I love the adult level of determination and single mindedness in this young boy, and how his perspective changes over the course of the story. 4 stars.

2023-06-07 “An Encounter” by James Joyce

A young boy and his friends play hooky from school and are accosted in the park by a strange man with green eyes. Read in Dubliners by James Joyce (1914). The feeling emanating from the boys as the stranger talks to them is palpable and horribly relatable. I can’t believe how immersive Joyce makes the mind of the other. 5 stars.

2023-06-06 “The Sisters” by James Joyce

A young boy comes home to find his aunt and uncle talking about the death of Father Flynn, the priest the boy would bring snuff to each day. Originally published in The Irish Homestead (1904). Compare the shift in style from the first publication of this story, to the publication in Dubliners. Joyce’s growth is incredible. I really like the use of the first person POV from a child’s perspective. We can’t know everything, and that makes the story all the more intriguing. 4 stars.

2023-06-05 “The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol

Akakiy Akakievitch Baschachkin’s overcoat is so worn through that it can’t be repaired and it takes everything he has to purchase a new one. Originally published in Collected Works (Sochinenya) (1842). Read online. I enjoyed the anticipation of everything descending into Russian literature madness. Even as a satire, the 12000+ words do feel a like a little much. 3.5 stars.

2023-06-02 “The Adventure of the Retired Colourman” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock sends Watson to track down Josiah Amberley’s wife and her lover then falls in with an unexpected ally. Originally published in Liberty Magazine (1926). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). SPOILER ALERT: Another case of the murderer hiring Sherlock to cover up his guilt. It feels out of character for Sherlock, in his final story, to join forces with a rival detective, rather than outsmart him. A disappointing end. 3 stars.

2023-06-01 “The Adventure of Shoscomobe Old Place” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Robert Norberton, Baronet is losing his mind and John Mason has avested interest in making sure that doesn’t happen, so he hires Sherlock Holmes. Originally published in Liberty Magazine (1927). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). The plotline and all its turns make sense, but the story is missing a unique take. 3.5 stars.

May

2023-05-31 “The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mrs Merrilow comes to Sherlock with a message from her tenant who is becoming increasingly more bizarre. Originally published in Liberty Magazine (1927). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). I really like the ending of this story. I think Holmes as a misanthrope gives others permission to be who they are. 4 stars.

2023-05-30 “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock tells an old story about a man who dies mysteriously at his feet. Originally published in The Strand (1926). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). The second story told by Sherlock rather than Watson. SPOILER ALERT: I like that the suspected murderer is innocent and that the trio worked out their differences but that the man left doesn’t end up with the girl. It would have been to tidy, and a little weird. Also, Sherlock keeps bees! 4 stars.

2023-05-29 “The Adventure of the Creeping Man” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When Professor Presbury begins behaving so strangely that even his dog attacks him, his secretary takes the case to Sherlock Holmes. Originally published in The Strand (1923). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). A story about a man driven insane by love, and not in a violent way. Approved! 3.5 stars.

2023-05-28 “The Problem of Thor Bridge” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The American Gold King and former Senator J. Neil Gibson’s wife has been murdered and he hires Sherlock to clear the name of his governess. Originally published in The Strand (1922). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). Not a big fan of stories that depend on the crazy Latina trope. I might be wrong, but he seemed to treat female characters better in the earlier books? 3 stars.

2023-05-27 “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Nathan Garrideb asks Holmes to help him complete the strange task of finding a third Garrideb so that the three in existence can inherit a large fortune. Originally published in Colliers (1924). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). I like the premise of this story, perhaps because it is much the same as “The Red Headed League”? Sigh. I know that Doyle didn’t want to write Sherlock anymore, but it feels a little cheap to take the money and disguise old plotlines. SPOILER ALERT: I do love the way that Holmes reacted to Watson being shot.

2023-05-26 “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock and Dr Watson aren’t sure that investigating a wife and mother turned vampire is exactly within their purview. Originally published in The Strand (1924). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). Another crazy Latina trope, but at least Sherlock isn’t blinded by his assumptions. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-25 “The Adventure of the Three Gables” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock works to free Mrs. Maberley from the clutches of a strange property deal that gets more complicated at every turn. Originally published in The Strand (1926). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). The racist language in this story is so offensive it feels out of character for Sherlock. It feels like authorial intrusion. It is an interesting story, with a few interesting twists, but it’s hard to get past Doyle’s language.

2023-05-24 “The Adventure of The Mazarin Stone” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Against his better judgement, Lord Cantlemere allows the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to hire Holmes to solve the mystery of the missing Crown Diamond. Originally published in The Strand (1921). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). This is the second story (besides His Last Bow) written in 3rd person limited. This is also the first appearance of Sherlock’s page, Billy. I enjoy the banter between Watson and his replacement. 4 stars.

2023-05-19 “His Last Bow” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is hot on the trail of German agent Von Bork as he attempts to make off with British intelligence. Originally published in The Strand (1917). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). This is the first story written in 3rd person limited. I think he does a wonderful job with it. It almost feels as intimate as first-person peripheral. The final lines of this story are my favourite final lines of all the Sherlock mysteries. 4 stars.

2023-05-18 “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

At the end of their holiday Sherlock and Watson are visited by Mortimer Treginnis and the local vicar whose siblings spontaneously went insane or died after a game of whist the night before. Originally published in The Strand (1910). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). SPIOLER ALERT: Another story where Sherlock plays by his own rules. I also love that the killer hired him to work the case. What confidence!

2023-05-17 “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock sends Watson to investigate the disappearance of Lady Frances Carfex, a young woman of high value to potential suiters. Originally published in The Strand (1911). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). It was cruel of Holmes to send Watson in his place and then mock his every mistake, but poetic justice when he finds himself embarrassed by his own error. 4 stars.

2023-05-16 “The Adventure of the Dying Detective” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock convinces Watson that he is dying of Tapanuli fever, beginning an ingenious plot to trap a murderer. Originally published in The Strand (1913). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). This is one of my favourites, I think because we are privy to a lot more of the actual detective work, and I love the way that Watson witnesses the story. 4 stars.

2023-05-16 “An Equal Share of the Bone” by Karen Osborne

The tale of spacers, Aris, Eliot, and Nate as they embark on a hail Mary hunting trip for the resource-rich Theriida. Originally published on EscapePod. Listened to on LeVar Burton Reads. A sound, well-written story. I didn’t love it for a couple of reasons: the first-person narration, along with heavy-handed foreshadowing, drains the tension of the adventure, and the frame story is a little preachy. 3. stars.

2023-05-15 “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mycroft employs Holmes to do the busy work on the case of a man murdered over missing documents. Originally published in The Strand (1908). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). The second and final appearance of Mycroft Holmes. I like the cover-up of this crime, and the dynamic between Mycroft and Sherlock. 4 stars.

2023-05-14 “The Adventure of the Red Circle” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mrs. Warren, a landlady, hires Sherlock to find out the doings of her mysterious lodger and Sherlock and Watson end up against a secret Italian criminal organization. Originally published in The Strand (1911). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). I don’t love the condescending tone at the beginning (Sherlock is usually so good to the women clients), but it changes quickly. I like how much of the details we’re given along the way in this one. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-13 “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock records his own adventure when he is hired by James M Dodd late of the Imperial Yeomanry to find a missing comrad. Originally published in The Strand (1926). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). This is the first story told by Sherlock himself rather than Dr. Watson. Sherlock’s tone is much more matter of fact, and he makes extensive use of dialogue in the telling (there might be six paragraphs in the whole story that aren’t spoken). 4 stars.

2023-05-12 “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes is after the Austrian Baron Adelbert Gruner, who he suspects murdered his last wife, to prevent another marriage and the loss of damning evidence. Originally published in The Strand (1924). Read in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927). It makes me very sad to see a woman taken in by a powerful man. SPOILER ALERT: I do appreciate Sherlock allowing the former mistress her revenge. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-12 “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge: The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles & The Tiger of San Pedro” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When Inspector Grayson accuses Holmes’s still flustered and not-yet-client, John Scott Eccles, of murder, Holmes must intercede. Originally published in The Strand (1908). Read in His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917). Even the plotline of this story illustrates the racism in British society, so it was a bit of a hard read. 1 star.

2023-05-11 “The Adventure of the Second Stain” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Prime Minister Bellinger and the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Trelawney Hope hire Sherlock to find a document stolen from Hope’s dispatch box and prevent war. Lestrade needs Holmes help to solve the murder of a known spy. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). SPOILER ALERT? Is it a spoiler alert if three out of the past four stories use the same ending? I still like it, but sometimes I really think Doyle wasn’t putting in enough effort.

2023-05-10 “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock investigates the murder of Sir Eustace Brakenstall, who appears to have been killed by burglars. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). SPOILER ALERT: Another culprit vindicated as Sherlock takes measures into his own hands. The bellpull plays another prominent role. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-09 “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Cyril Overton, the owner of the Trinity College rugby team hires Sherlock to find his key player. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). I like when the mystery is more complex than it appears. This one allows us to follow Sherlock through each clue he finds. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-08 “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Inspector Hopikins consults Holmes about the murder of Willoughby Smith secretary to Professor Coram. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). SPOILER ALERT: I like the stories where the culprit had a good reason for their crime, and Sherlock lets them go. I feel this would have been one of those stories had it not ended so tragically. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-07 “The Adventure of the Three Students” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mr. Hilton Soams, a lecturer at St. Luke’s College, hires Sherlock to figure out which student broke into his office to steal the scholarship exam answers. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). A good old-fashioned Sherlockian mystery. Nothing to report. 3.5 stars.

2023-05-06 “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Lestrade tells Sherlock of a burglar going about London smashing busts of Napoleon. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). Sherlock conducts a number of interviews in this story, and Watson records only the answers that conveniently reflect the question. An interesting form of reducing word count! 3 stars.

2023-05-05 “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes is hired to negotiate the blackmailing of Lady Eva Brackwell by the infamous Charles Augustus Milverton. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). I believe this is my favourite Sherlock story. I adore so many aspects of how this story comes together, but Sherlock’s impassioned description of Milverton at the beginning takes the ending to another level. 5 stars.

2023-05-04 “The Adventure of Black Peter” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock is called to investigate the murder of a dastardly ship captain who may have stolen securities from a ruined man. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). This story leaves a few details to interpretation and I’m not sure if it feels more sophisticated or just rushed. 4 stars.

2023-05-03 “The Adventure of the Priory School” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr. Thorneycroft Huxtable hires Sherlock to find a missing pupil and the German master, suspected to be together. Originally published in The Strand (1904). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). This story reminds me a lot of “Silver Blaze,” sub footprints for tyre tracks. 3 stars.

2023-05-02 “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Hilton Cubitt of Riding Torpe Manor hires Sherlock Holmes to decipher the coded messages someone is sending his wife. Originally published in The Strand (1903). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). The stories where Sherlock must reach into his vast trove of acquired knowledge are my favourites. I wonder what contemporary readers would have thought about Sherlocks reasons for assigning the symbols to English letters?

2023-05-01 “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

John Hector McFarlane hires Sherock Holmes to clear his name of murder. Originally published in The Strand (1903). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). “He wished to improve what was already perfect and so he ruined everything.” is one of my favourite lines out of Sherlock’s mouth. It makes me think he would have made a very intriguing thief. 4 stars.

April

2023-04-30 “The Adventure of the Empty House” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Three years after the death of Sherlock Holmes, Watson is leaving the scene of a nearby crime when he runs into an old bookseller who later repays him with the shock of his life. Originally published in The Strand (1903). Read in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905). A perfect comeback adorned with disguise and literary allusions. 4 stars.

2023-04-29 “The (Adventure of the) Final Problem” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Watson accompanies Sherlock as he faces Moriarty, his mortal enemy and intellectual equal. Originally published in The Strand (1893). Read in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894). I love this story as an ending to the saga of Sherlock, but the vague details of Moriarty’s and Sherlock’s methods makes the telling feel a little superficial. 3 stars.

2023-04-28 “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

An old friend Watson asks to be referred to Sherlock when he takes ill after a top secret treaty is stolen from his care. Originally published in The Strand (1893). Read in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894). This story is a little long and a little too much like “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” but I still like it. 3.5 stars.

2023-04-27 “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Watson, Sherlock, and Mycroft are on the case of an interpreter who is kidnapped and forced to interpret the coercion of a similarly kidnapped man. Originally published in The Strand (1893). Read in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894). I will always love the introduction of Sherlock’s brother, but this story is lacking the usual thrill of action. 3 stars.

2023-04-26 “The Adventure of the Resident Patient” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr. Percy Trevelyan hires Sherlock and Watson to solve the apparent burglary of his benefactor’s room. Originally published in The Strand (1893). Read in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894). I’m a little surprised it took Sherlock so long to recognize Blessington’s disguise. 3.5 stars

2023-04-25 “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tom and Jack have tried to find their fortunes in South Africa and just as they are about to give up and return to England, a haunting story from their friend gives Tom a brilliant idea. Originally published in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (1879). Listened to on the Doings of Doyle podcast (Ep 29). Arthur Conan Doyle is already laying the foundation for the relationship between Holmes and Watson in this story. 3.5 stars.

2023-04-24 “On the Orient, North” by Ray Bradbury

Miss Minerva Halliday meets a ghastly passenger on her train trip North, and feels she must follow him all the way to his destination. Read in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). A good example of a nearly objective POV. I can see why Neil Gaiman appreciated Ray Bradbury so much. 3.5 stars.

2023-04-11 “Impatient Griselda” by Margaret Atwood

The humans are quarantined on an alien planet and an octopus shaped alien has been dispatched as part of an intergalactic-crisis aid package to entertain them. Originally published in The New York Times Magazine. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). This story was written for the New York Times Decameron Project, and it retells one of the original Decameron stories in response to the 2020 pandemic. I like its subtlety and timelessness, but more than that, its blatant disregard for the gender binary. (I worry about older authors coming out as TERFs and I’ve been holding my breath about Margaret). 3.5 stars.

2023-04-10 “A Travel Piece” by Margaret Atwood

Annette is a travel writer who has, not tirelessly, perfected being pleased, and then her plane goes down and she is marooned at sea with real vacationers. Originally published in Saturday Night. Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). I like this story for its articulation of real life and the irony that it’s fiction. 4 stars.

2023-04-09 “The Dead Interview” by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood interviews the long-dead George Orwell but finds the reception spotty. Originally published in Inique Magazine. Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). This story feels like a moral tale, but perhaps it is just a written example of the words we put in the mouths of our favourite authors. The audio version truly brings it to life. 3.5 stars.

2023-04-08 “When It Happens” by Margaret Atwood

Mrs. Burridge is an aging farmwife who has made up her mind to prepare for what is to come. Originally published in Chatelaine (1975). Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). I’m reading alternatively from Dancing Girls and Old Babes in the Wood and had to check and see which this story belonged to. I am going to inspect further how Atwood’s voice of an aging woman has changed over time I think. 4 stars.

2023-04-07 “My Evil Mother” by Margaret Atwood

A suburban teenager who has grown into a woman with a daughter of her own, tells the story of her crazy mother. Originally published as My Evil Mother: A Short Story by Margaret Atwood via Amazon Original Stories (2022). Read in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). This is one of my favourite stories in the collection. I love how the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship unfolds and refolds back on itself. 4 stars.

2023-04-06 “Hair Jewellery” by Margaret Atwood

A young poet strives to have her love of an aloof lover requited over a weekend, a semester, a lifetime. Originally published in Ms Magazine (1976). Read in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). A quintessential modern feminist short story: the plotline, the character arc, the POV, the allusions. Ahhhh Margaret. It is well executed, but didn’t capture my interest. 3.5 stars.

2023-04-05 “South to that Dark Sun” by Gareth Owen

The tragic story behind the pithy entry on blues singer Terry Arkari in the music encyclopedias of the future. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). The ideas behind this story are great, but the structure is disconnected and feels unfinished. 2.5 stars.

2023-04-04 “Underpass” by Gareth Owen

The chronological account of Mr Urban, who plays the doom-magnet protagonist and inept husband to the worried wife, who encounters teenage troublemakers, a drunk beggar, and an angry pack of stray dogs. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). Satire can be hard to write, and when it fails, the message feels unclear. This story contains all the trappings of a farce without the wit and reversal of expectations (or a horror without the thrill of suspense?). Certainly, the theme isn’t that everyone is equal in death? 2.5 stars.

2023-04-03 “Cleaning Lady” by Gareth Owen

A sixty-nine-year-old former lady’s man finds his bachelorhood oppressive and becomes absorbed with his need for a woman in his house. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). A cautionary tale for superficial men that mimics the classic short story with a moral twist, only now the character arcs are tropes. 3 stars.

2023-04-01 “Under Glass” by Margaret Atwood

A woman has laboured to emerge from a seemingly unembodied state to find her love and life unsatisfactory, and perhaps not worth it. Originally published in Harper’s magazine (1972) Found in Dancing Girls and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). The dynamics between the characters in this story have that beloved awful relatability that literary short stories often do. 4 stars.

March

This month I polished off Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks, Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022), I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, and rather than basking in having no unfinished books looming over me, I started four more. Oh, and I am nine stories ahead!

2023-03-31 “Polarities” by Margaret Atwood

Morrison’s relationship with Louise becomes unexpectedly interesting. Found in Dancing Girls and other stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). Great example of an unlikeable but complex main character. I like how this story stirs up feelings about social conventions, privilege, and power–it’s gross-good. 4 stars

2023-03-29 “Sixteen” by Gareth Owen

A young hospital orderly befriends a patient with a secret to tell. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). Spoiler Alert. The story structure is sound if you ignore that it is written about a young man who remains captivated by a misogynistic 40-year-old man, despite his admission to chronically cheating on his wife, being a terrible father, and treating one of his mistresses like garbage. It might be historically accurate, but I’m not sure of the point of romanticizing a time when half the population had very little agency. We’ve got lots in the archives; thanks very much. 1 star.

2023-03-28 “Morte De Smudgie” by Margaret Atwood

Nell recalls grieving the loss of her cat, Smudgie, and what it is like to be on the shore while a loved one floats away on their pyre. Originally published in Morte De Smudgie by Margaret Atwood via The Arion Press (2021). Found in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I like this one, which makes me wonder if I’m less fond of modern short stories than I thought. Beautiful ending. 4 stars. (I’m still 7 stories ahead!!)

2023-03-27 “Gilded Butterflies” by Gareth Owen

Hugo Melville’s acting career promises to take him from the stage to the big screen just as he starts making mistakes, both in the theatre and at home. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). This story and the last three have been a huge shift from the first four stories in this collection. I like Owen’s treatment of an unlikeable character here. 3.5 stars

2023-03-26 “Trapdoor” by Ray Bradbury

Clara Peck lived in her house for 10 years before she noticed the trapdoor above the landing, and now it’s all she can think about. Originally published in Omni magazine (1985). Found in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I liked the premise of this story, but I didn’t find the ending satisfying. 3 stars.

2023-03-25 “The Morrison Triplets” by Debra Spark

J Morrison receives an invitation to an exclusive artist’s retreat as the country heads into a recession and leaves behind his newly pregnant wife to attend. Originally published in Harvard Review #58 (2021). Found online. I’m not usually a fan of epistolary stories, but this was immediately immersive. Excellent example of each sentence making you want to read the next. 4 stars.

2023-03-24 “Fault” by Gareth Owen

Marion can’t forgive herself for the pain she’s caused and plans to end it. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). The characters and plotline were a bit cliché, but the ending was satisfying. 3 stars.

2023-03-24 “Betty” by Margaret Atwood

A young woman looks back on what she learned from the neighbours she met the many times her family moved. Originally published in Ms Magazine (1982). Found in Dancing Girls and other stories by Margaret Atwood (1982). Despite this being an adult telling the story, I think Atwood does a good job showing the mind of a young girl. 4 stars.

2023-03-23 “The Camel” by Gareth Owen

Simonetta describes the mysterious downfall of her brother Roberto. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). A well-rounded story—interesting use of multiple perspectives used to assemble the storyline and context. 4 stars.

2023-03-22 “Oh God What Must I Do?” by Gareth Owen

A lowly secretary teases a high-society gossip about introducing her to an elusive bestselling author. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). The premise of this story is clever, but the frame story feel and bumpy transitions prevent immersion until two-thirds in. 3 stars.

2023-03-21 “The Toynbee Convector” by Ray Bradbury

Roger Shumway is the only reporter Craig Bennett Stiles, the 130-year-old time traveller who saved the world, will talk to. Originally published in Playboy (1984). Found in The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (1988). I am a slow reader because I need to read every word to process the meaning of a sentence. Sometimes this is a curse, but with this story, I wanted to read every word, and I’d read them again. 5 stars.

2023-03-20 “Faith” by Gareth Owen

Roberto Amoretti marries a woman who falls ill and must reconcile his needs with his faith. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). The formal language of the previous narrator is reused in this story. The ideas are interesting, but the characters are a little stereotypical. 3 stars.

2023-03-19 “Steve Wong is Perfect” by Tom Hanks

Triple X, but not the sexy kind. Steve Wong is forced to deal with unwanted fame after it gets out that he only seems to bowl perfect games. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). Out of the fab four linked stories, this is my favourite. It was immediately immersive, and a great finish for the collection that leaves me wanting more. 4 stars.

2023-03-19 “Our Town Today with Hank Fiset—Your Evangelista, Esperanza” by Tom Hanks

Hank Fiset tells the tale of Esperanza Cruz-Bustermente, a typist who uses her words-per-minute skills for other people. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). This is the final linked story in the shape of a newspaper column from Hank (not to be confused with Hanks), and while I didn’t like him at first, I’ll miss his observations. Hanks definitely saved the best for last. 3.5 stars.

2023-03-19 “The Evitable Conflict” by Isaac Asimov

Now in his second term as World Co-ordinator, Stephen Byerley is investigating the Machine for making mistakes that appear to be adversely affecting members of the “Society for Humanity.” Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction (1950). Found in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950). I’m not a huge fan of politically oriented exposition in fiction, though I get its relevance in sci-fi, and especially here. For those of you like me, the ending is worth it. 3.5 stars.

2023-03-18 “Two Scorched Men” by Margaret Atwood

Nell honours her and Tig’s late  landlord and his BFF with stories of their eccentricities. Originally published as Two Scorched Men by Margaret Atwood via Scribd (2021). Found in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). I like the characters Nell introduces, but you know that irritable boredom you feel when someone tells you something terrible happened, but they don’t want to talk about it? That’s how I feel right now. 3 stars.

2023-03-16 “First Aid” by Margaret Atwood

Nell reminisces about the life-and-death situations they’ve survived while she and Tig complete their first-aid training. Found in Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood (2023). A non-chronological (read poorly transitioned) slice of life that I didn’t put down because of the tension that something might happen (which decreased the closer I got to the last page), and because it’s Atwood. This is the first of several linked stories, so here’s hoping. 3 stars.

2023-03-16 “Made in Heaven” by Gareth Owen

Anna recalls how a break-up with her BFF brought her to the work she was meant to do. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). The premise of this story has real potential, but the execution of the character arcs bordered on tropes, and their voices felt like they came from the author rather than the characters themselves. 2.5 stars

2023-03-15 ” Zia Teresa” by Gareth Owen

A young woman recounts the tragi-comic life of her Zia Teresa. Found in South To That Dark Sun by Gareth Owen (2022). Despite some beautiful lines, this story isn’t cohesive enough to generate the suspension of disbelief required to sink into it, which isn’t helped by the plot meandering to an anticlimactic finish. 2.5 stars

2023-03-14 “Man from Mars” by Margaret Atwood

A student “from another culture” approaches Christine, a nouveau-tolerant upper-middle-class white girl from the suburbs, and before she knows it, he’s found her number and her mother has invited him to tea. Originally published in Ontario Review. Found in Dancing Girls and other stories by Margaret Atwood (1977). An interesting account of early “acceptance” of multiculturalism in Canada rubbing up against burgeoning feminism from the POV of a privileged female teenage boomer, written by a similarly privileged Canadian writer. It gives an unsettling view of where we’ve come from as well as the issues that remain unaddressed. Dated, yet accurate, and definitely still relevant. 4 stars.

2023-03-13 “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde

When American Minister Hiram Otis and his family move into the English country estate of Canterville Chase, their new world attitude disrupts the hauntings of Sir Simon. Originally published in The Court and Society Review (1887) (Read). Wholesome and funny, with a great alternative take on a haunting. 4 stars.

2023-03-13 “Go See Costas” by Tom Hanks

Assan Chepik hopes that the fifth time is the charm when he bargains his way onto a ship headed to the freedom of America. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). A strong beginning and middle with a slightly weaker end, but not by much! This story makes me hope that Tom keeps writing. 3.5 stars.

2023-03-12 “Stay With Us” by Tom Hanks

Tech mogul Francis Xavier Rustan, indulged by his EA, Ms. Mercury, heads out on a folksy-themed reconnaissance mission to the backwoods. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). I think the stageplay format is an excellent choice for this story, but the story itself loses its uniqueness in the third act. 3.5 stars.

2023-03-11 “Arthur the Dog” by Stuart McLean

Dave feels that Arthur has it too good and needs to be put in his place. Originally published in Vinyl Cafe Unplugged by Stuart McLean (2000). Found on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast (Listen). This story is a little bit all over the place, but eventually comes back around to the inciting incident. Not my favourite. 2.5 stars.

2023-03-11 “Gifted” by Stuart McLean

Sam learns that all the trouble at school might be a sign that he belongs in a gifted program. Originally published in Vinyl Café Diaries by Stuart McLean (2003). Found on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast (Listen). I think my favourite Vinyl Café stories are from Sam’s point of view. I really liked how Stuart managed to keep things interesting while most of the action was taking place in Sam’s head. 4 stars.

2023-03-10 “Self-Made Men” by Stephen Leacock

Misters Jones and Robinson compare their humble beginnings from their table in a white-linen restaurant. Originally published in Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1910) (Read). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). A fairly on-the-nose commentary on class and privilege. 3 stars.

2023-03-10 “The Past is Important to Us” by Tom Hanks

Billionaire Bert Allenberry spends his time and money time travelling to a simpler time, where he can’t have it all. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). Sometimes a wholesome sci-fi story that feels like it was written in the 60’s deserves 4 stars because I just enjoyed reading it and anticipating what would happen at the end. Great pacing. Ending could have been a wee bit stronger. 4 stars. (Not to be overconfident, but I’m a whole story ahead of the game rn.)

2023-03-09 “Not With a Bang” by Damon Knight

Rolf Smith and Louise Oliver are the last two humans on earth, thrust into each other’s paths for no reason other than necessity. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1949). Found online. The idea of what would happen to gendered etiquette and morality after an apocalypse is intriguing. Even better if it claps back at the patriarchy from the pen of a man from the 40s. 4 stars.

2023-03-09 “The Changeling” by WW Jacobs

Mr. George Henshaw was spotted with Ted and two women by his wife and conspires to set up a double alibi. Originally Published in The Strand Magazine (1906) (Read). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). This is the third story in this book by Jacobs and each is about men being outsmarted by the women they are trying to manipulate, which gives me a strange feeling. I like that the ending of this is inconclusive–feels like less of a moral tale. 3.5 stars. (68 stories in 68 days! I finally caught up on my reading today!)

2023-03-08 “Our Town Today with Hank Fiset—Back from Back in Time” by Tom Hanks

Hank Fisit is back again with his musings about nostalgia-related time travel. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks. I am not a huge fan of Frank, but he’s starting to endear himself to me. The last lines could be a little ominous and for the first time, I’m curious if there will be more about him later. 3 stars.

2023-03-08 “These are the Meditations of My Heart” by Tom Hanks

After a break-up, a young woman begins to sell anything that won’t fit in her car with the intention of heading off to follow her dreams when she buys an old typewriter for five dollars. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks. I almost put this story down before the end of the first two paragraphs when it hints that she’s hung up on a man, but Hanks turns it around. 4 stars.

2023-03-08 “Tobermory” by Saki

Cornelius Appin isn’t particularly clever or good-looking, but he did succeed in teaching a cat to talk once. Originally published in The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki (1911) (Read). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). Speculative fiction from before the term existed. I like the descent into disorder that this story takes and how aptly it captures the nature of humans to not entirely think things through–“wonderful creatures which have assimilated themselves so marvellously with our civilization while retaining all their highly developed feral instincts.” Indeed. 4 stars.

2023-03-07 “A Special Weekend” by Tom Hanks

After living with his Dad following his parent’s divorce, Kenny Stahl’s mom wisks him away for a birthday weekend. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks. Some short stories have plots, others don’t, and still others are in between because the author is trying for plot but doesn’t quite hit the mark. I liked how it started out, but this story turned out to be one of the third kind. 2.5 stars.

2023-03-07 “My Brother Henry” by JM Barrie

A man mires himself in a web of lies when an acquaintance misremembers an encounter in their youth. Originally published in My Lady Nicotine: A Study in Smoke by JM Barrie (1891) (Read). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). This story is hilarious. If you know anything about autism and demand avoidance, this is exactly the kind of situation you get into trying to avoid demands. 4 stars.

2023-03-06 “The Whirligig of Life” by O Henry

Ransie and Ariela Bilbro implore Justice-of-the-Peace Benaja Widdup to divorce them. Originally published in Harper’s Monthly Magazine (1903). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). This is the perfect title for this story. The written dialect made this story difficult to read–I prefer Zora Neale Hurston’s way of  writing phonetically. 4 stars.

2023-03-05 “Evidence” by Isaac Asimov

To get a leg up in the mayoral electoral race, Francis Quinn posits that Stephen Byerley is actually a humanoid robot with a positronic brain and hires Lanning and Calvin to prove it. Originally published in the Astounding Science Fiction magazine (1946). Found in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950). Central to sci-fi world-building is the human nature factor, and I like how this story imagines how a robot might make a more capable leader because it lacks our nature. 5 stars.

2023-03-05 “The Storyteller” by Saki

Three children and their aunt encounter a young bachelor on a train and the two adults have a storytelling showdown. Originally published in Morning Post (1914). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). A great example of children and education written from an adult’s perspective. 4 stars.

2023-03-04 “Who’s Who” Tom Hanks

Susan Noreen Gliebe has been crashing on her friend’s one-bedroom apartment couch for more than a month and is getting desperate that her acting dreams won’t come true when she runs into her old theatre manager, Bob Roy Jr. Found in Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). A good story with a solid beginning, middle, and end, but not a lot more than that.n 3 stars.

2023-03-04 “What Stumped the Blue Jays (“Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn”) by Mark Twain

Jim Baker recounts the story of a blue jay puzzled by a never-ending hole. Originally published in A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain (1880). Found in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). Funny that he chose a blue jay and leaves the reader to decide whether that is an insult or a compliment. 3.5 stars.

2023-03-03 “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes entices Watson to accompany him to Aldershot Camp, where Colonel James Barclay has allegedly been murdered. Originally published in The Strand Magazine (1893). Found in The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes: 37 short stories and a complete novel from The Strand Magazine (Read). The story where Holmes uses the word “elementary,” and maybe the first time he has referenced the bible. After reading so many stories of the other mystery duos, I really appreciate the balance of Holmeses (well-earned) arrogance and humility. 4 stars.

2023-03-02 “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield

The Burnell girls receive a dollhouse from a family friend that they lord over the children at school. Originally published in The Nation and Atheneum (1922). Found online. This story shows the pervasiveness of classism and the subtle process of how children assume their parent’s prejudices. 4 stars.

2023-03-01 “The Man in the Black Suit” by Stephen King

An old man confides the story of the time he met the devil in his diary before he dies. Originally published in The New Yorker (1994) (Read). Found on the Stories Telling Stories YouTube Channel (Watch). I like how Stephen King can take a simple, childish story and through the eyes of a man I know survives the ordeal, can make me anxious for him. 4 stars.

February

This month I read sixteen stories, bringing the grand total to fifty-three. Not too bad! I listened to a lot of stories this month, and I’m hoping to have more time to sit and read in March. My goal is to catch up on the five remaining stories and read the rest of Fun & Quirky Classics and Uncommon Type.

2023-02-28 “The Lady of the Yellow Painted Library” by Tobi Ogundiran

When a telephone salesman’s silver tongue fails to spare him the punishment for losing a library book, he runs. Originally published in Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight (2022). Found on LeVar Burton Reads (Listen). I liked this story, especially the ending, but the tension wavered in the middle build. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-27 “Wok Hei St” by Guan Un

Compass is a novice binder, capable of finding lost things, and his Aunty Ping needs something found. Originally published in Strange Horizons (2022) (Read). Heard on LeVar Burton Reads (Listen). A nonlinear narrative (in the is case, a story that begins at the end and then moves into a flashback to tell the story). It was good, but it didn’t really captivate. 3 stars

2023-02-26 “Teeth” by Stuart McLean

Eugene is determined to have his corn and eat it too, despite the time his teeth came out attached to a corn cob in front of all of his friends. Originally published in Secrets from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2006). Heard on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. I laughed out loud at this one (I love the Eugene and Sam relationship). Since I have the book this story was published in, I read the story while listening. It is very interesting to see the editing choices they made when putting it in print. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-25 “Dave Goes to the Dentist” by Stuart McLean

Dave chomps down on a chocolate Mary Turlington told him was filled with cream and finds toffee, nuts, and part of his tooth. Chaos ensues. Originally published in Secrets from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2006). Heard on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. I like how Stuart uses extreme stories to make the ideas relatable and less traumatic. 3.5 stars

2023-02-23 “Sins of the Third Age” by Nadine Gordimer

Peter and Mania make their way from war-torn countries and concentration camps to a new land of their choosing and work to retirement in Italy while we wait for the other shoe to drop. Originally published in Harper’s Bazaar. Read in Something Out There by Nadine Gordimer (1979). Masterful tension and a perfect ending. There is so much to this story, but the thing I took away was Gordimer’s articulation of the effect of inertia on creating the life you want. 5 stars.

2023-02-18 “The Curse of the Crayfish” by Stuart McLean

Greta realizes that Carl is depressed because he’s missing the annual fishing derby, resulting in Carl, Bert, Dave, and Kenny getting up to no good in a boat. Originally published in Revenge of the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2012). Heard on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. Funny heartwarming story. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-17 “The Turlington’s Dog” by Stuart McLean

Bert Turlington has been wanting a dog since childhood, and when Mary finally concedes, Bert is skeptical. Not yet in print. Heard on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. A sweet little story about unexpected pleasures. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-15 “The Adventure of the Reigate Squire” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Watson has taken Holmes to the country to recover from an arduous case when Holmes finds himself embroiled in a robbery turned murder. Originally published in The Strand magazine (1893) (Read). Listened to on Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection narrated by Stephen Frye. I like how the backstory for the strain on Holmes’ nervous system is not from a case that we know; it makes me feel like the story is not just a new mystery but another episode in Holmes’ life. 4 stars

2023-02-10 “Escape!” by Isaac Asimov

When their competitor’s supercomputer destroys itself after it encounters a paradox in its programming, US Robots tinkers with The Brain to sidestep the same fate. Originally published in the Astounding Science Fiction magazine (1945). Found in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950). I love the exploration of robot (and therefore human) psychology and personality in The Brain character. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-04 “The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones” by Stephen Leacock

The story of a man who could not take his leave. Originally published in Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1910). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild. Great example of a story that takes an idea to the extreme. 3 stars.

2023-02-03 “The Grey Parrot” by WW Jacobs

Mr Gannett is concerned his wife will cheat on him while he is away for work, so he buys her a parrot and tells her that it will report to him everything she does in his absence. Originally published in The Grey Parrot by WW Jacobs (1908). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (Read). This story could either be taken as a win if you read it as a woman outsmarting her controlling husband, or as a warning to men that women are deceptive. I suspect it is the latter. 3 stars.

2023-02-07 “Petit Lac Noir” by Stuart McLean

Dave and Morley get a sweet deal on a cabin getaway in exchange for doing a few chores. Chaos ensues. Originally published in Extreme Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2009). Heard on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. I like how this story begins with two characters from outside the Vinyl Cafe universe. 3.5 stars.

2023-02-06 “Dog Pills” by Stuart McLean

Arthur the dog isn’t performing at his best and a visit to the vet inspires Dave to shore up his own health regime. Originally published in Auto Pack (CD) by Stuart McLean (2014)(Not published in print). Listened to on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. An example of a story about the inner workings of a single character’s mind. 3 stars.

2023-02-02 “Burd” by Stuart McLean

A rare bird lands in Dave’s back yard introducing him to avid birders far and wide. Originally published in Home from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (1998). Listened to on Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. A good example of a story where a character gets swept up in a plotline. 3 stars.

2023-02-01 “Tree of Heaven” by Stuart McLean

Now that the kids are grown, Dave rediscovers his purpose in a seedling growing in the filth of his car. Originally published in Vinyl Café Diaries by Stuart McLean (2003). Listened to on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. This story is one of those stories where Dave plays the classic stupid male role (right down to being afraid of his wife) but redeems himself by falling in love with life. 4 stars.

2023-02-01 “Little Lost Robot” by Isaac Asimov

Dr. Susan Calvin and Peter Bogert are trying to find a loophole in the laws of robotics that will help them locate the robot that one of the researchers ordered to get lost. Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction. Read in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. At the beginning of the story, the character asks “It’s only been about twenty years since the hyperatomic motor was invented and it’s well known that it was a robotic invention. What is the truth about it?” Dr. Calvin goes on to tell the story, which is a digression from the topic but never comes back around to answer the question. This feels like an oversight in the frame story of the book. 3.5 stars.

January

Starting out ahead of the game with 38 stories read and one collection under my belt! My favourite story this month was “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, though I treasure every story I read of hers.

2023-01-31 “Attack of the Treadmill” by Stuart Mclean

Dave is humbled by a teenage boy and it all starts with a broken shoelace. Originally published in Revenge of the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2012). Listened to on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. Sometimes Dave playing the stupid man role wears on me when there aren’t any redeemable moments. This story is one of those. 3 stars.

2023-01-30 “Dave and the Bike” by Stuart McLean

Dave helps a local bike enthusiast curb his evangelist ways. Originally published in Revenge of the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2012). Listened to on the Backstage at the Vinyl Café podcast. I like how Stuart ties in the detail of buying the shoes with the climax of the story. 3 stars.

2023-01-29 “A Science Experiment” by Stuart McLean

Murphy earns his way into Sam’s heart with a secret that will blow everyone away. Originally published in Secrets from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2006). I like how Stuart can drag out an inciting incident for 5 pages. 3 stars.

2023-01-28 “Laura” by Saki

Laura is only given a few more days to live and is convinced she will reincarnate as a lower organism; Amanda has her doubts. Originally published in Morning Post (1914). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). I don’t know much about Saki, but from what I’ve read, he isn’t on the side of women’s rights in general, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of this story. Regardless, it is amusing. 4 stars.

2023-01-27 “The Inconsiderate Waiter” by JM Barrie

A gentleman finds himself endeared to the waiter at his club and can barely stand it. Originally published in The Inconsiderate Waiter by JM Barrie (1893). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). I love how the main character of this one sticks to his bit till the very end. 4 stars.

2023-01-26 “Hoodoo McFiggin’s Christmas” by Stephen Leacock

Hoodoo McFiggin has done all that is required of him in anticipation of Santa’s arrival and so should get everything he wants, right? Originally published in Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1910). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). This story makes me think of how psychologists come  up with their hypotheses. 3 stars.

2023-01-25 “His Lordship” by WW Jacobs

Farmer Rose and Mr. Cray conceive of a plot to humble the farmer’s daughter, but in addition to good looks she also has cleverness on her side. Originally published in The Strand Magazine (1906). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). As I neared the end of this story, I thought that for once a female character would prevail. Alas. 3 stars.

2023-01-24 “The Mouse” by Saki

Theodoric isn’t used to dealing with the cruder aspects of life, especially in public and before the fairer sex. Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). I think the original moral of the story was that others’ problems are greater than your own, but has evolved into, stop worrying what others think about you. 4 stars.

2023-01-23 “Luck” by Mark Twain

A young man and a clergyman sit side by side at a banquet to honour an admiral when the clergyman admits that he has been hiding the fact hero is a fool for his entire career. Originally published in Harper’s Magazine (1891). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). A fantastic commentary on military and the church. 4 stars.

2023-01-22 “The Waterslide” by Stuart McLean

Bored by the dog days of summer, Sam and Murphy stumble upon a scheme to make some ice cream money. Read in The Vinyl Café Celebrates by Stuart Mclean (2021). This story is a perfect example of a three-act structure and excellent pacing of characters and action. 4 stars.

2023-01-21 “My Financial Career” by Stephen Leacock

A man goes into a bank to open an account and gets swept up by an awkward bout of nerves. Originally published in Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1910). Read in Fun & Quirky Classics edited by Carolyn J Wild (2022). I love how the stream of consciousness of the character plays off of dialogue with the supporting character. Didn’t want it to end. 4 stars.

2023-01-20 “A Way To Go Home” by Rush Leaming

Michael sits in the duggout with a bully from school. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). I like the build of tension in this one. 3.5 stars.

2023-01-19 “Here” by Rush Leaming

A single father grapples with his vices. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). A hopeful little flash piece that isn’t out of reach. 3.5 stars.

2023-01-18 “Ashes” by Rush Leaming

A man’s stream of consciousness as the towers crumble to the ground on September 11, 2001. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). As a short story rehashing a terrible event, this piece could be a meaningful expression of futility, but as it is, it feels more like a dredging up of old memories without purpose. 3 stars.

2023-01-17 “Robo-Cop Rides Again” by Rush Leaming

Ro-bo Cop graduated the program at the Slate Thompson Rehab facility and stayed on to walk away as a legend among men. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). The graphic descriptions don’t feel quite meaningful enough to the story, so it feels a bit gratuitous. 3 stars.

2023-01-17 “A Little Patch of Sunshine” by Rush Leaming

A man’s stream of consciousness from inside a mental health institution. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). A brief post-modern glimpse into institutionalized mental health. I like the pop culture references. 3 stars

2023-01-16 “Agora Dogs” by Rush Leaming

An American with a warrant out for his arrest and nothing to show for his time on the planet settles into a summer job in Greece, meets a woman who makes him not hate himself, and kills a man. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). A fun read, but a little loose. 3 stars.

2023-01-15 “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mr Hall Pycroft has taken a suspiciously good job offer and is worried he’s been had. Originally published in The Strand magazine (1893) (Read). Listened to on Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection narrated by Stephen Frye. A good mystery, but nothing that sets it apart from other Sherlock stories. 3.5 stars.

2023-01-14 “Liar!” by Isaac Asimov

It’s Susan Calvin, Alfred Lanning, Milton Ashe, and Peter Bogert against Herbie the telepathic robot and their own assumptions. Originally published in the Astounding Science Fiction magazine (1941). Read in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I love the thorough exploration of the three laws of robotics through these stories, but I strongly dislike how the only woman in the story is not only a psychologist but driven to destruction by her emotions. PrOgrEsS. 4 stars.

2023-01-14 “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mr. Grant Munro employs Mr. Holmes to solve the mystery that his wife refuses to reveal. . Originally published in The Strand magazine (1893) (Read). Listened to on Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection narrated by Stephen Frye. Is this the first time that Sir Arthur Connan Doyle has the opportunity to denounce racism in Sherlock? I like the way he does it. And I know I have been reading a lot of Poirot lately, but I am so glad for Sherlock’s humility in this one. 4 stars.

2023-01-13 “Ella, La Loca” by Rush Leaming

Everyone calls Elsa crazy, but one man sees her differently, not that that changes anything. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). A sweet story, though I would have liked to see his choice not to step in at the last party affect him a little more. 3 stars.

2023-01-12 “Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T Kingfisher

The creator is ill and must go away. He commands Sister and Brother to go off into the universe to find food and not return until he signals that he is back. Read in Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2020) (Read). The comparison of the innocence of humanity and AI development is compelling. I wonder how much inspiration was taken from Asimov’s iRobot. 4 stars.

2023-01-12 “Happy Hour at the Pub Madrid?” by Rush Leaming

Mr. Lovenuts has gotten himself in a pickle and it is hard to tell whether the other bar flies are on his side or not. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). This story is more of a humourous anecdote than a short story. The ending just doesn’t satisfy. 2.5 stars.

2023-01-11 “Alphabet City” by Rush Leaming

Convinced he’s not “clean cut on the inside,” a young man goes in search of a guide to the heart of the old New York underbelly. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). I like how the main character shifts from unlikeable to tolerable, not only to the reader, but to himself. 4 stars.

2023-01-10 “Parade” by Rush Leaming

Michael is in Zaire, sick with an infection, in the back of an SUV with a broken axle, 10 miles from the nearest village and further from a highway. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). The tension building in this story is great until just before the climax. Then, it’s a bit deus ex machina and the other characters lose their purpose. 3 stars.

2023-01-09 “The Man Who Screams at Nightfall” by Rush Leaming

An American moves to a small village in Zaire to help set up a fish farm and finds Kachamba, a handyman, on the streets of the village battling his demons. Read in The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories by Rush Leaming (2022). I like this story but I want it to be tighter. There are a few false endings that could use some better integration to give the ending the punch it deserves. 3 stars.

2023-01-06 “Spunk” by Zora Neale Hurston

The Village speculates on a tragic love triangle in their midst. Originally published in Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life (1925). Read online. The last paragraph sums up the undercurrent of this entire story, and it is amazing. 4 stars.

2023-01-06 “Our Town Today with Hank Fiset—At Loose in the Big Apple” by Tom Hanks

Hank Fiset is back with his commentary on his sejour in New York City. From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). This story is only four pages long, and I had a hard time making myself finish it. Frank is a bad writer, boring, and a super bummer. But maybe that’s the point? 2.5 stars.

2023-01-05 “The Conscience of the Court” by Zora Neale Hurston

Laura Lee Kimble is accused of assault, mayhem, and the premeditated attempted murder of a white man and is at the mercy of the court to prove her innocence. Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post (1950) (Read). Read in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction 7th Ed. I love the way that Zora provides an example of a future that accommodates the differences between people. 4 stars.

2023-01-05 “Alan Bean Plus Four” by Tom Hanks

Four friends (two of them dated previously) slap together a rocket ship intent on making a jaunty boomerang around the moon. Originally published in The New Yorker (2014) (Read). From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). I was hoping he’d give sci-fi a try. This story is fun and silly and understated. Approved. 3.5 stars.

2023-01-04 “John Redding Goes to Sea” by Zora Neale Hurston

John Redding wants nothing more than to see the world beyond the horizon but unless he can get his mother’s blessing, he doesn’t feel right leaving. Originally published in Stylus magazine (1921). Read online. A great example of the dichotomy between the collective and the individual. I like how Zora made me consider the plaint of both sides. 4 stars.

2023-01-04 “A Month on Greene Street” by Tom Hanks

Bette Monk is a single mom of three who is understandably concerned about the guy next door hitting on her who doesn’t quite fit her vision of her new life. From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). SPOILER While I know that a love story must end happily, this one is a little too throw caution to the wind for me. 3 stars.

2023-01-03 “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston

Delia Jones has worked, sweated, cried, prayed, and sweated through fifteen years of marriage to Sykes and is done with his abuse. Originally published in Fire!! Magazine (1926). Read online. It is very clear why this story is anthologized again and again. Delia’s agency till the very end makes it so satisfying. 4 stars.

2023-01-03 “Welcome to Mars” by Tom Hanks

Kirk Ullen and his father go surfing for old-time sake and finds that time has taken its toll. From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). Even though this story isn’t particularly unique, it was satisfying. I get the feeling that Tom is building his storytelling skills in this book. This story is a good example of a developing writer. 3 stars.

2023-01-02 “Drenched in Light” by Zora Neale Hurston

Isie Watts endlessly challenges Grandma Potts to keep her in line, but this time she takes it too far. Originally published in Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life (1924). Read online. I like that Zora leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable at the end with no moral or preaching from the characters. 4 stars.

2023-01-02 “Our Town Today with Hank Fiset⁠—An Elephant in the Pressroom” by Tom Hanks

A news reporter reflects on a newspaper going digital and Al Simonds, a mainstay of the newsroom. From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017). As you know, I’m not a huge fan of epistolary pieces, but I think it served to show the M/C’s emotions and showcased the various parts of his argument. In general a little more of a rant than a short story. 3 stars.

2023-01-01 “A Junket in the City of Light” by Tom Hanks

Rory is a struggling model-actor-bartender who is picked up as the love interest opposite one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood and gets a free trip to Paris out of the deal. From Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (2017) (Read). At the beginning of the story the character makes the observation the best places to stay in Europe have a Nazi past, and I couldn’t stop wondering how I felt about that throughout the whole story. 3.5 stars.

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