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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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[READ: December 15, 2022] “Punchline”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 15. Rebecca Watson, author of little scratch, is wondering if you’ve heard the one about two people who walk into a bar.

I really enjoyed this delightfully odd story of getting to know someone, sort of. 

The narrator, whose name is not Briony, met a man at a her friend Amy’s birthday party.  Their eyes didn’t meet across a crowed room. Rather they met in a mirror.

They didn’t introduce themselves, but they did wind up spending the night together.  The fact that they didn’t know each others’ names was part of the thrill.

The next morning he said he knew her name (were they really drunk enough not to ask each other last night?)  He said it was Bryony (It isn’t).  She replied that it was coincidence how similar their names are since his name was clearly Brian.  he said he would call her Brian, short for Bryony. (more…)

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[READ: December 14, 2022] “I’ve Thought About Taking Up Another Life”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 14. Ander Monson, author of The Gnome Stories, will get to the sports pages eventually.

This story had a very strange bookending component.  The narrator, as the title says, would like to start another life.

And so, he (I believe) cites the example of a couple, usually middle-aged, let’s call them Diana and Henry.  They have been married for a while and have two kids.  And then one of them suddenly disappears. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 13, 2022] “Not a Donut”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 13. Venita Blackburn, author of How to Wrestle a Girl, never forgets to like and subscribe.

I enjoyed everything about this story until the end, when it got very real and broke the bubble that the story had created.

Dan Conway’s wife left him and his son Silus. Dan was ordinary but confident.  he was sixty and Silus was an adult as well.  But Silus was diagnosed with high needs on the autism spectrum.  So Dan rarely allowed Silus to be on his own.  Silus rarely spoke more than a few catchphrases (like “Not a Donut”) which Dan knew how to interpret.

Dan had started going to New Light Missionary Baptist church a few months earlier.  It had gotten three and a half stars which was Dan’s sweet spot (he didn’t trust four stars or above, figuring they must be fake, because who could ever perform that well at anything).

After one Sunday, Dan learned that he could leave Silus for the young adult session and the ladies would look after him. 

He seemed to really hit it off with Sis. Wilson.  There’s a wonderful moment where she startles him while he is watching Silus from behind a palm tree. 

“Jesus shit,” yelled Dan. 
Sis. Wilson slapped her thigh, laughing as he began to apologize for the language.  “Jesus wept,” she replied.  

There’s some background on Dan and Silus that really Fleshes out what a good man Dan is.  

There’s also a scene where Dan tries t o get Sis. Wilson to work out at the gym.  It’s during this session that she asks him why he didn’t go to a white church (I’m not sure from context clues if I was supposed to realized the racial implications in the story already).

Later on when Dan tries to scare Sis. Wilson the way she did to him earlier, it does not go well.   And that made me very sad.

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[READ: December 9, 2022] “Le Cochon”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 12. Jasmine Dreame Wagner, an American writer and interdisciplinary artist, once received a stuffed unicorn from Tim Curry. (This one is true!)

This is a story of exaggerated possible deliberate misunderstanding.

Honey Vienna is an actress.  She is hanging out of a window of a flat in New York City.  She is calling for attention from everyone including her younger sister, Ingrid, whom she literally sent a letter to to come and see her.

In typical fashion she had even called the cops on herself.

She yelled that Lew called her a hack-voiced, freaked-out pig, a mass of psychotic confusion, infantile and heartbreaking. (more…)

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[READ: December 11, 2022] “Odam on Till”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 11. Ruby Cowling, author of This Paradise, wonders whether you have any smaller bills.

This story is a puzzle from the start.  

Odam is working the till (the cash register) in the store.  He has been promoted from the sweltering kitchen.  He arrived just three months ago, so it’s all a little new to him.

Odam is from someplace else–he doesn’t need food or shelter.  He absorbs nutrients from his surroundings. He wonders if it was a good idea for them to send him here at all–did they know what they were doing?  What about his new physical body? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 10, 2022] “Masculine”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 10. Mathilde Merouani, a writer and translator in Paris, never splits infinitives.

This is a very sad story about a girl who has moved  to France with her mother.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 9, 2022] “Night Flight”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 9. Diane Schoemperlen, author of Forms of Devotion, remembers not to pit stop at the Lake of Indifference.

This story is accompanied by collages that go with the story.

It is told in eight parts (with eight pictures).  I wonder if you could see the pictures in a larger (and color) format if they would be more impactful. 

I didn’t really get a lot out of this story, but I feel like the author is right in this comment about her story:

A curious combination of text and image that meanders and circles back on itself again and again with repeated motifs including knitting, maps, New York City, patience, fortitude, and darkness. I like to think that each reading of the story will reveal something new as the words and the collages intersect and intertwine on various levels.

In part two she takes a night flight to New York City.  Part three discusses the New York Public Library.

Parts four and five discuss maps.  As with many stories that I don’t like in total, in parts, I found this wonderful.  Like these lines: “Maps are so noncommittal.  This can either be infuriating or liberating.”

And

“Think of everything that you have ever lost, by accident or on purpose…. They are still back there somewhere, like  trail of bread crumbs stretched out behind each and every one of us.”

But the ending is just not an ending.  

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 8, 2020] “Parnassus on Wheels” [excerpt]

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 8. Christopher Morley, author of The Haunted Bookshop and Parnassus on Wheels (from which this story is drawn), died in 1957 and was unavailable for comment.

As I started this story I thought, why do people write stories in an old-fashioned dialect?  It seems weird and out of character with contemporary writers.  I didn’t realize until a bit of the way through the story that was, indeed, an old story (over 100 years old!).  

It is also an excerpt from what I expect is a long book, so it was frustrating to have it build up and then just end. However, it does end in a strangely satisfying way as well. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 7, 2022] “Lexapro”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 7. To officially kick off the 2022 Short Story Advent Calendar, here is a story about faith and carbs from the author of The Prince of Mournful Thoughts.

This story had interesting components but overall I felt uncomfortable about it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:

[READ: December 6, 2022] “Milk”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

Like we always do at this time: the Short Story Advent Calendar is back for 2022. We had such a great time last year working with our first-ever guest editor, the one and only Alberto Manguel. This year, however, we’re bringing things back to basics. No overarching theme or format, just 25 top-class short stories, selected in-house, by some of the best writers in North America and beyond. It’s December 6. To officially kick off the 2022 Short Story Advent Calendar, here is a story about faith and carbs from the author of The Prince of Mournful Thoughts.

I really like this kind of story that seems very grounded in reality but which ha a kind of fantastical element.

Essentially the narrator of the story is a wet nurse.  She has been the wet nurse for every baby in the King’s castle for decades.  (more…)

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