Sunday, May 31, 2015

Add Two Fantastic Story Collections to Your Library

To cap off 2015's Short Story Month, I feel compelled to tell you about what I think is some great news.

On June 9th, two of my all-time favorite short story collections will finally be released in eBook format. Both are by the inimitable Jeffrey Ford.

The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories 
The Empire of Ice Cream

If you love finely-crafted short fiction and appreciate works of fantasy that contain none of the stereotypical elements that spring to mind when you hear that word, then you should grab these collections.

If you're not an eBook person, and you're interested, then I highly recommend that you hunt down the gorgeous Golden Gryphon hardcover editions of these two books. 

Note: The author and I are not buddies. I get nothing out of recommending these books (aside from the joy in making other readers happy).

You can pre-order the eBooks now, if you're of a mind to.

The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories

Amazon / B&N / Kobo

The Empire of Ice Cream

Amazon / B&N/ Kobo

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lawnmowers, Truckers & the Box Office Girl

Three more shorts down for Short Story Month:

"The Lawnmower Man," by Stephen King (from Night Shift) - This was a re-read for me. I first read it when I was in high school and thought it was great at the time. A friend of mine recently posted a review of this story in which he expressed a deep and long-lasting hatred for this piece. I didn't like it as much the second time around, but I did enjoy it. I like the absurd nature of the story and can't really see anything about it that would inspire my pal to spit such venom over the poor little thing.

"Yvette's Gift," by Richard McGowan (from Short Fiction, Volume 1, The Erotica) - This story somehow manages to be engaging despite the fact that there is zero conflict. It's just a pleasant recounting of two people getting to know each other on a road trip. It didn't end the way I thought it would, but at the same time, the ending I did get didn't seem wholly earned either.

"Leaving Maverley," by Alice Monro (from The O. Henry Prize Stories: 2013) - This was interesting in that you didn't quite know who the story was focused on until a good way in. It had an emotional impact that was expertly and stealthily seeded throughout the narrative, so that the ending kind of creeps up on you. Nicely done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Reading Clive Barker's The Scarlet Gospels for Short Story Month!

I was thinking that I'd have to wait for Short Story Month to come to a close before I started reading Clive Barker's first horror novel release in 14 years. Then I saw that, according to Amazon, The Scarlet Gospels is a short story.


I'm glad I happened upon this information.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bishop, CrimeStopper, Vampire, Misfit

Four more shorts read for Short Story Month:

"Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes," by Michael Bishop - An annoying inside joke (with a shitty title) that was written as a birthday present for a Tor editor. This kind of cute stuff is cute only between friends. The literary equivalent of reading an 'oh, so clever and mysterious' Twitter conversation.

"Catch 'Em in the Act," by Terry Bisson - A well-executed, if not particularly inventive or surprising, Amazing Stories-type read.

"When Barrettes Brought Justice to a Burning Heart," by John Everson - A bloody revenge tale that, thankfully, didn't end the way I thought it would.

And, by far, the best of the bunch:

"A Good Man is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Connor - An excellent chunk of writing, if you forgive the incredible coincidence that the story is built around.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Window or a Small Box, by Jedediah Berry

Don't believe the product description. This short story isn't 'magic realism.' But it is a light, dream-like adventure that falls somewhere between surrealist or absurdist fiction.

Think of it as PG-13 bizarro.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hackle & More Johnson

- Douglas Hackle
More Short Story Month Reads!

The following four stories bring me to the end of the main thrust of Jeremy Robert Johnson's We Live Inside You, a rather fine collection of short fiction:

"A Flood of Harriers"
"The Encore"
"Laws of Virulence"
"States of Glass" (This one scared me, which is rare.)

The last section of the book, which I'll try to finish by month's end, contains what Johnson has labeled 'b-sides' and oddities. Based solely on the stories I've read so far, fifteen or so, I already feel safe saying this collection is highly recommended.

I also read a short short by the inimitable Douglas Hackle called "In Our Hearts." This is a gem of a story lost in a morass of kludgy eBook formatting so fucked that it dissuaded me from even sampling any of the other stories in the collection. For those who dare, you can find this particular Hackle in Aliens, Sex & Sociopaths: The Best of Surreal Grotesque

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Kangaroos, Jane Does, killer canines, and an ice storm

Four more short stories read in celebration of Short Story Month:

"The Kangaroo Communique," by Haruki Murakami  (from The Elephant Vanishes) - A bizarre and frightening response to a customer service complaint.

"Alphinland," by Margaret Atwood (from Stone Mattress: Nine Tales) - A sad tale of mourning and escapist fantasy.

"Unlicensed Surgery," by Richard McGowan (Available from the author upon request) - A dark fantasy with an interesting take on a creature from folklore.

"The Steel Valentine," by Joe R. Lansdale (FREE at Amazon) - A bloody noir tale of revenge and revenge.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Richard McGowan & Jeremy Robert Johnson Bits

Short Story Month continues with a few more stories from Jeremy Robert Johnson's collection We Live Inside You:

"The Brilliant Idea"
"Simple Equations"
"Cortical Reorganization"

So far, this is collection is turning out to be an excellent mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (with some great weird stuff thrown in). The range on display here is impressive.

I also read a period romance piece from Richard McGowan's Short Fiction, Volume 2, Miscellania entitled "Gretchen in the Library." This one wasn't quite my bag, but it was certainly well-written, as one would expect from Mr. McGowan.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Link and more Everson & Lorn

I finished a couple more stories by Edward Lorn slated to appear in his forthcoming collection Others & Oddities:

"The Red Door on Market Street"
"Just Short of Paradise"

"Red Door" is my favorite so far of those in this collection that I've not yet read. I also understand that the table of contents for this thing is growing, so I can look forward to more stories headed my way in the near future.

John Everson's collection, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, has thankfully gotten much better. I plowed through these sometimes delightfully goofy tales of orgasms and gore:

"Long Distance Call"
"Cage of Bones"
"Dead Girl On The Side Of The Road"
"Pumpkin Head"
"Direkit Seed"
"Every Last Drop"

The choices the characters make in these sex/death tales are often ridiculous, but the stories still entertain.

The stand-out so far from my Short Story Month reading is "The Summer People," by Kelly Link. I happened upon this one in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 anthology. Link's writing, as usual, was excellent, the story a wholly engaging and imaginative bit of Southern 'magical realism.' Recommended.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

FREE Short Fiction from the Bad Apples People

Short story month continues and I felt it was appropriate to let folks know about some FREE short fiction available from the semi-humans behind the anthologies Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror and Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love.

"Serving Spirits," by Adam Light (Download FREE from Amazon)
"Crawlspace," by Evans Light (Download FREE from Amazon)
"Easy Pickings," by Jason Parent (Download FREE from Amazon)
"Got Your Goat," by Edward Lorn (Read it FREE online)
"I Will Tell You About Knoist," by Gregor Xane (Exclusive to New Release Mailing List Subscribers)
"It Came From Hell and Smashed the Angels," by Gregor Xane (Download FREE from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or iTunes)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Some Everson & Lorn

So far I've gotten off to a pretty good start with a short story from new-to-me author John Everson and a couple of peculiar things written by a friend of mine called Edward Lorn.

"Yellow," by John Everson had some interesting, although obvious, sexual imagery throughout. Not bad at all, but somewhat predictable. I'll keep reading Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions and hope for some surprises.

The Edward Lorn stories are from a forthcoming collection entitled Others & Oddities. The two I've read thus far, "Now I've Seen Everything" and "Blah-doop," qualify as amusing 'b-sides.' And just so you know, I've read almost everything in this
collection already. I'm just picking out the ones I've not yet read and proofreading them. 

This is going to be quite the collection.