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Tag: 2000s

Short story: “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties”

“Teddy Bears and Tea Parties,” by S. Boyd Taylor

Appeared in ChiZine #41, July 2009; read in Drabblecast 146, January 14th, 2010, and in a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, June 26th, 2018; also published as a Kindle book and available on Scribd

A few thousand words

Eh, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Feels like weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Not that it’s not well written; it certainly succeeds in being original as horror.

I got a craving after listening to this, and ended up having a bagel with grape jelly. Delicious.

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Short story: “Morris and the Machine”

“Morris and the Machine,” by Tim Pratt

Originally in Triangulations: The End of Time, September 2007; appeared in Drabblecast 150, February 12th, 2010, and a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, July 7th, 2018

A few thousand words

Interesting how Morris’s tragedy is, classically, all his own fault. He screws up his life by dwelling excessively on the past, just more literally than most. Not that I don’t sympathize.

The sleeping with a seventeen-year-old is pretty creepy.

I thought I detected a hint that Penny had been physically abusive. He says he doesn’t want to turn his back on her, and he puts the table between them. Presumably unintentional, since the author doesn’t mention it in his commentary and it distracts from the theme of the story.

Short story: “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely”

“Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely,” by David D. Levine

First appeared in Realms of Fantasy, June 2004; anthologized in Year’s Best Fantasy 5 (edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, July 2005) and The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy (edited by Mike Ashley, Running Press, 2008); collected in Space Magic (Wheatland Press, 2008); read for Drabblecast 113, May 6th, 2009, and featured in a Director’s Cut episode, July 1st, 2018 (see the Internet Speculative Fiction Database page)

A few thousand words?

Cute. And very typical of the Drabblecast; the sound effects are a nice touch.

I didn’t know it had also appeared in Realms of Fantasy. I wonder how typical it is of that publication (which is now defunct)? I imagine it stands out as a bit oddball. It feels like a slight stretch even classing it as fantasy.

Edited to add: Just listened to the Drabblecast episode reprising it, and I forgot how good the last line is.

Short story: “Jimmy’s Roadside Cafe”

“Jimmy’s Roadside Cafe,” by Ramsey Shehadeh

First published in Strange Horizons, June 30th, 2008; appeared in Drabblecast 249, July 12th, 2012, and in one of Drabblecast‘s Director’s Cut Specials, August 16th, 2018

4,348 words

What an excellent story. The slightly distant point of view (Is it omniscient? Seems like we get a tiny glimpse into Patrick’s mind when he blurts out that line about cigarettes) works well, letting us understand Jimmy’s motivations without hammering us over the head. The first sentence is also great, opening with a bombshell and tapering off, deadpan, into the minor details of the cafe’s location.

Let your characters do the suffering

“In stories, in the worlds that we can go into, there’s suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger. There are murders; there’s all kinds of stuff. But the filmmaker doesn’t have to be suffering to show suffering. You can show it, show the human condition, show conflicts and contrasts, but you don’t have to go through that yourself. You are the orchestrator of it, but you’re not in it. Let your characters do the suffering. It’s common sense: The more the artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be. It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.”

—David Lynch (found here)

Interesting. Someone (not a writer) was telling me recently that the best time to write is while crying. I thought at once of Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquility.” Which is the best: while suffering, after suffering, or as Lynch says, without suffering at all?

Short story: “The Town Manager”

“The Town Manager,” by Thomas Ligotti

First published in Weird Tales, September–October 2003; featured in episode 605 of PseudoPod, August 3rd, 2018; also read here on YouTube

A few thousand words

I love the escalating strangeness at the beginning—escalating strangeness always charms me—and the ending. This isn’t the kind of thing you think of when you think of horror; the trolley driver’s brutal end is the only overt horror in the whole piece. But what fine horror it is.

Short story: “On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy”

“On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy,” by Desmond Warzel

First appeared on SFReader April 15th, 2009, the winner of the SFReader 2008 Story Contest; featured in Escape Pod episode 284, March 17th, 2011, and later as a Flashback Friday piece in episode 634 June 28th, 2018; read for Drabblecast 340, October 5th, 2014

3,280 words

I can see why this would be considered a classic Escape Pod story. Escape Pod seems to define itself as fun more than anything else, even if it does embrace darker stuff sometimes.

Short story: “Mirror Ball”

“Mirror Ball” or “Mirrorball,” by Mary Gaitskill

Appeared in Index (a magazine I can’t seem to track down online); collected in Don’t Cry: Stories (2009, Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.); featured on the Knopf Doubleday site on April 24th, 2009

7,474 words

Fascinating. There’s so much abstraction, and yet the story comes through as vivid and urgent. Lots of imagery to keep it grounded.

Gaitskill seems to have a remarkable view of sex, and a remarkably dark view of casual sex and sex work. Perhaps she believes sex should be confined to stable relationships because it’s so dangerous emotionally (or rather, according to the worldbuilding of this story, spiritually). Pardon me for speculating about the author, but it’s hard to resist when the theme runs so unmistakably through other stories of hers, like “The Agonized Face.” It’s an attitude that overlaps with the puritanical, though the rawness, frankness, and intensity of her work is far from it.

How strange that this young woman (“girl”) is saved by an encounter with a homeless-looking man and by her rather inappropriate, desperate phone call. How wonderful that this young man (“boy,” thank goodness for gender parity—perhaps they are so called because of their innocent foolishness, their ignorance of the nature of souls) answers his phone when he has good reason not to.

Short story: “The Surrogate”

“The Surrogate,” by Tessa Hadley

Appeared in the New Yorker (online here), September 15th, 2003; read by Curtis Sittenfeld on the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, September 1st, 2017 (online here)

4,607 words

(Spoilers.) A really interesting, if sad, story. The main character’s fantasy is always something out of reach. I’m tagging this “failures of human connection” because Dave, who goes unnamed for such a long time, remains such a mystery; all we can sense about him, wistfully, is that he would have liked to have a real girlfriend instead of just a sex partner. It’s impossible to know whether the main character’s missed opportunity with Dave is a tragedy or just a wrinkle in her life, something to fantasize about now that they’ve gone on their very different paths.