Last of the Short Story Marathon

Now that we’ve passed the Ides of June, I’d better tie up some loose ends!

It’s been a good discipline to read a short story every day. I have so many books on my shelf about writing techniques and grammar and story crafting (I call them my devotional reading), and sometimes I get caught up with reading them and lose sight of the fact that the best instruction for writing STORIES is to read STORIES; to think about what a writer is trying to accomplish in a given story, if the story works, speaks, sings, touches my heart and mind…

There’s a lot of flash fiction here, partly because the second half of this month got crazy busy, but also because I want to write more flash.

Below is the tally for the balance of May.

Fri 5/18 – All The Things The Moon is Not by Alexander Lumans in Clarkesworld – This one stuck with me more for the rendering of the world and of the characters who live together but mark time in lonely desperation.

Sat 5/19 – The Eye of the Sibyl by Philip K. Dick – his trademark stream-of-consciousness style set in both roman and modern times. You can see Dick working out some of the themes that pervade his later work like The Valis Trilogy.
Sun 5/20 – Broken Hearts by Ted Lietz on Every Day Fiction – A bittersweet story about an alien told with a distinctly feminine point of view.

Mon 5/21 – Notes from the Apocalypse by Stephen Graham Jones in Weird Tales #359 – Really three stories in one. Three different individual takes on a zombie future. The middle one titled “The Age of Hasty Retreats” was my favorite.

Tue 5/22 – The Deep by Adam Smith on Flash Fiction Online Having written a mermaid story I like this one. A nice story about suspicion (old wives tales), a mother and child and, of course, the sea.

Wed 5/23 – The Dome by Gregory Marlow at Every Day Fiction – I love dome stories and this one fits nicely within the confines of one thousand words.

Thu 5/24 – Fadeout by Amber D. Sistla in Bull Spec issue #6, Autumn 2011 – a parable-style tale about the nature of art.

At this point I borrowed a set of disks from my public library Masterpieces of Short Fiction. Even though it goes against my stated goal of reading some of the MANY books I have bouncing around the house, I’m really enjoying reading these stories and then listening to a short lecture about each of them.

Fri 5/25 – The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe – a revenge tale told by an unreliable narrator. Much of the suspense is carried by the finely observed detail.

Sat 5/26 – Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne – The only thing I’d read by Hawthorne before this was The Scarlet Letter. I’d forgotten what a good writer he was, even when the language is archaic the story feels immediate.

Sun 5/27 – The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol – Poor Akaky, I can picture his fine overcoat perfectly.

Mon 5/28 – The Diamond Necklace by Guy de Maupassant – Short and more of a parable, an anti-Cinderella story with a twist ending.

Tue 5/29 – The Lady With the Dog by Anton Chekhov – I’d read this one before, way back when. It really is just lovely. Chekhov is a master at revealing character.

Wed 5/30 – The Real Thing by Henry James – At first, I was a little annoyed by James’ flowery style, but it’s a long story and it grew on me. It serves his subject well. He’s investigating some subtle aspects of society, class and what it means to be an artist, or more to the point, how to render art. I really liked it by the end.

Thu 5/31 – Araby by James Joyce – A coming of age story via a small disillusionment, presages a lifetime of a thousand cuts of the same.

The series continues with Hemingway, Babel, Kafka, Mansfield, Jackson, O’Connor, Garcia Marquez, Baldwin, Kingston, Atwood and Carver. It’ll keep me reading a story a day through June.

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