Tag: 2000s

Novelette: “Stone Animals”

“Stone Animals,” by Kelly Link

Published in Conjunctions: 43, Fall 2004 (order here); collected in Magic For Beginners; anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2005; also appeared here in Electric Literature‘s Recommended Reading, prefaced by Lincoln Michel, February 4th, 2015

16,530 words, 41 pages in BASS

The development of the atmosphere and characters is top notch, but I feel it goes on too long, repeating the same themes over and over without having any kind of cumulative effect (like an obsessive feel, for example), and then it stops inconclusively on the same note. Why isn’t this a 5,000-word short story?

Edited to add that while reading this I kept thinking about the fact that New World rabbits don’t burrow. It’s not really relevant, but I couldn’t help thinking about it.


Short story: “Big Brother”

“Big Brother,” by Paula W. Peterson

First published in The Iowa Review 33.2 (Fall 2003) (available online here); anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

Several thousand words

This story doesn’t have a sad tone to it—it flows on the energy and strength of the narrator’s voice—but it’s sad nonetheless. The main character seems lost.

When fiction uses a dialect different from mine, I’m always mildly distracted trying to judge its authenticity, something I cannot do.

Short story: “Sixteen Jackies”

“Sixteen Jackies,” by Lance Olsen

Published in New Letters, Volume 69 Number 4; appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004; collected in How to Unfeel the Dead: New and Selected Fictions

A few thousand words

Is this a funny story or a sad one? In a way I like the idea of having so many versions of myself that I no longer feel compelled to do anything in particular, knowing my identity will fulfill itself elsewhere. But there’s something twisted and wrong about that. What is there for any individual on Earth to do except fulfill their identity? Or is Jackie perhaps truly fulfilled in the life she has?

The allusion to the Warhol picture is pretty clever.

Publications mentioned in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

Publications the anthology draws from:

Publications under the heading “Notable Nonrequired Reading of 2003”:

  • The Antioch Review
  • The Sun
  • L.A. Weekly
  • Land Grant College Review
  • Open City (twice)
  • eyeshot.net, now defunct
  • Mother Jones
  • The Kenyon Review (twice)
  • Parabola
  • Five Points
  • Fence
  • Southern Review (twice)
  • Indiana Review
  • The New Yorker again (twice)
  • Mid-American Review again (twice)
  • Tin House again (three times)
  • Salt Hill
  • Epoch
  • Nation
  • Painted Bride Quarterly
  • Grandstreet (I assume this refers to Grand Street, now defunct?) (twice)
  • StoryQuarterly again
  • Autobiographix
  • sweetfancymoses.com
  • Ploughshares
  • Speakeasy again
  • Other Voices
  • Bitch
  • Black Warrior Review, another one I should get around to reading
  • The American Scholar
  • The Believer again
  • AGNI, styled Agni
  • One Story
  • Conjunctions again
  • Zoetrope again
  • Hayden’s Ferry
  • The New York Times Magazine

Short story: “What You Eat”

“What You Eat,” by Ben Ehrenreich

First appeared in BOMB Magazine, April 1st, 2003 (online here); anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004; apparently also made into a film

4,440 words, a little over ten pages in BANR

Oh, I like this. The kid seems to have a compulsive need to push boundaries—first with his slingshot, then with his incredible perversity at the end. You’d think giving his father the scare of his life would be enough, but he has to go all the way, and I like that.

I wonder if many kids brought up in rigidly authoritarian households end up boundary-pushing like this?

Short story: “We Have a Pope!”

“We Have a Pope!”, by Christopher Buckley

Appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in April 2003 (online here); anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

26 pages in BANR, 9,593 words

A fun story, carried along by the voice and personality of the narrator. I didn’t know the Atlantic published this sort of thing. (According to Wikipedia, the Atlantic dropped the “Monthly” soon after this story came out.)

The fact that Buckley was chief speechwriter for the first Bush makes me appreciate this story a little less. Perhaps he’s not putting on the narrator’s hucksterism and dishonesty?

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.

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.