Tag: major character deaths

Short story cycle/fictional essay: “Good World”

“Good World,” by John Haskell

Appeared in Blind Spot, issue 23, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004

Ten and two thirds pages in BANR, which probably means it’s in the range of four thousand words

That “powerlessness and optimism” is heavy stuff. How can we change our habits, make ourselves good? The little girl in the well seems to know, or perhaps it’s not knowledge but something else that makes her abruptly choose to act. The woman Anne is trapped in her habits. Laika’s habits make her happy—don’t they?—as well as good.

What is a good world?


Short story: “The Miracle Years of Little Fork”

“The Miracle Years of Little Fork,” by Rebecca Makkai

Appeared in Ploughshares Summer 2015, guest-edited by Lauren Groff; anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016

15 and 2/3 pages in this anthology, several thousand words

A good story about a good man. I like the sadness of the elephant and her poor trainer, of Stella Blunt giving up her child, and the sadness that seems to dog Reverend Hewlett no matter what he does.

Feels typical of Ploughshares, though I’m not sure how a guest-edited magazine can have a typical style.

Flash fiction story: “Milestones”

“Milestones,” by Janice Leagra

Appeared here in Spelk, February 5th, 2018

416 words

Oh man. Really good portrait of a fucked-up parent-child relationship. On my first read I was picturing the “you” as a father for some reason, but I think it’s actually a mother. I was slightly distracted at the end wondering how the narrator was speaking from beyond the grave, but whatever.

Short story: “The Plutonian Drug”

“The Plutonian Drug,” by Clark Ashton Smith

First published in Amazing Stories, September 1934; appeared in PseudoPod 591, April 20th, 2018, and replayed July 27th of the same year; also online here

4,072 words

Clever. The initial dialogue infodump is a bit clumsy, but maybe that was a common convention at the time. (Or does it count as infodump if it’s mainly for worldbuilding rather than having much effect on the plot?)

Short story: “The Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall”

“The Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall,” by Mat Coward

Appeared in Crimewave 13: Bad Light, May 11th, 2018

A few thousand words

This is pretty funny. The main point-of-view character (spoilers) dying off towards the end works nicely because the narration feels rather distant from him even as it’s third-person limited. I think it’s the way the humor of the situation goes over the characters’ heads that establishes that distance.

Short story: “Bloodletting”

“Bloodletting,” by Melanie Rees

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6

Maybe 2,000 words?

I liked this one.

Short story: “Birthday Boy”

“Birthday Boy,” by Amy Lukavics

Appeared in Unnerving Magazine, issue #6 (it’s the first story in the issue)

Maybe 3,000 words? I’m hopeless at estimating these things

Clever, and the mother’s emotional arc feels believable, at least to me. Of course, the story cheats by withholding information that the point-of-view character knows, but I think it gets away with it.



Short story: “Moon-Face”

“Moon-Face: A Story of Mortal Antipathy,” by Jack London

Appeared in the newspaper The Argonaut July 21st in either 1902 or 1906; read as part of PseudoPod 589: Flash On The Borderlands XLII: Misanthropes, April 6th, 2018; also online here

2,253 words

A good creepy yarn. Reminds me of Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart,” where the narrator wants to kill the old man for no reason except that there’s something about his eye.

Short story: “Some Days the Bees Are Melancholic”

“Some Days the Bees Are Melancholic,” by Melissa Goodrich and Dana Diehl

Appeared in The Offing, April 2nd, 2018

3,242 words

I’m sure plenty of teachers have felt like this when a student (or forty-one students) fail(s) to thrive in the classroom. And when the teachers themselves fail the student(s), or feel like they have—not even managing to learn their name(s). (I don’t usually like author bios, but I notice both authors have experience as teachers.)

I wonder how two authors collaborate on this type of piece.

Edited to add: Can you really tap on a tablet with a toothpick?

Edited again to add: I guess the tablet has one of those attached keyboards.

Short story: “Clap Your Hands”

“Clap Your Hands,” by Andrew F. Kooy

Appeared in issue 107 of Apex Magazine (online here April 3rd, 2018) and read very well on the podcast by Christopher Soren Kelly

3,300 words, according to the magazine

(Spoilers ahead.) A good story, if rather bleak. I didn’t get the ending at first—apparently it’s obvious to the stranger that there shouldn’t be any water here, and the hole was meant for a mass grave.