Tag: podcasts

Short story: “The White Spot”

“The White Spot,” by Jonathan Blum

Appeared in the Kenyon Review, Sept/Oct 2018; read, I think by the author, for the Kenyon Review Out Loud: Audio Selections from the Kenyon Review podcast—listen here

A few thousand words?

This is so good. I wonder what the old anti-Semite was thinking, hearing that story? Did it move her at all? Did she hate the two of them more than ever?

It’s certainly wrong for the father to use his son this way, exposing him to anti-Semitism at such an early age, and to torment a dying woman, however vile she may be. But how human of him!


Short story: “A Coward’s Death”

“A Coward’s Death,” by Rahul Kanakia

Appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, issue 93, February 2018

2,140 words

A crushing story, tolerable only because it’s so short and parabolic. Who is the coward? Usurus acts to save a few lives in the short term, while Tiktus stands up to tyranny at great cost to everyone around him. It’s Usurus who is venerated, but it’s Tiktus who provokes that urgent question at the end, and the answer: “No. Never.” It’s the kind of question and answer that could inspire rebellion—revolution—if not for the story’s great, terrible last line.

Flash fiction story: “Ndakusuwa”

“Ndakusuwa,” by Blaize Kaye

Appeared in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination #237, November/December 2016 (the magazine would appear to be defunct now); nominated for a 2017 Nommo Award by the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS); later appeared in Strange Horizons, September 3rd, 2018 (read/listen)

857 words

A simple and effective form.

I would have liked the last line better if I’d known “ndakusuwa” means “I miss you” in the ChiShona language. But perhaps that line isn’t aimed at a monolingual person like me.

Short story: “New York Girl”

“New York Girl,” by John Updike

Appeared in the New Yorker, April 1st, 1996 (subscribers can read here, I think); read by Tessa Hadley on the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, September 3rd, 2018 (listen here)

Several thousand words, I imagine

I haven’t read much Updike. I rather like this, especially the last few lines, where—as Hadley and Treisman point out—the dream the protagonist cherished, represented by this sometime lover, is gently obliterated. Though I personally never got a strong sense of what that dream was—too subtle for me maybe.

Short story: “Audition”

“Audition,” by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Appeared in the September 10th, 2018 issue of the New Yorker; read by the author on The Writer’s Voice: New Fiction from the New Yorker, September 4th

6,708 words

An engrossing story. At the end I worry that the main character is lost, that he will go on smoking crack (quite possible, and the author implies in an interview that he’s doomed) and never move to LA (almost certain). And I don’t want him to move to LA, because that way lies a miserable disillusionment—at least in my mind.

Sayrafiezadeh has, of course, been published in the New Yorker, which makes him the kind of success in his field that the main character dreams of being. I wonder what it’s like writing such a character from such a vantage point.

Short story: “The Fainting Game”

“The Fainting Game,” by Nino Cipri

Featured in PseudoPod 603, August 3rd, 2018

4,912 words

I love the concept, the game, the viciousness of the sisters, the dickishness of the dad that points to a deep dysfunction in the family. I felt like I wanted more though. More about the other kids Maya disappears and her motivations for doing so. Anyway, really interesting story. PseudoPod is having a great run of stories lately.

Short story: “Daddy’s Home”

“Daddy’s Home,” by Sharon Cullars

Originally appeared on the author’s blog, then in a collection; read by Cherrae Stuart for Nightlight S1 E6, July 31st, 2018

2,000 words exactly

A good creepy story.

Short story: “Beyond the Dead Reef”

“Beyond the Dead Reef,” by James Tiptree, Jr.

Appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1983; won a 1983 Locus Award for best short story; collected in Tales of the Quintana Roo (Arkham House, 1986), which won a 1987 World Fantasy Award for best collection); appeared in PseudoPod 603, July 13th, 2018 (though not reprinted as text—perhaps there was a problem getting the rights)

A few thousand words

Interesting, but the initial buildup strikes me as long and not closely related to the main story (even though I love the murder plot), the monster is silly, and the moral at least borders on heavy-handed. Perhaps I’m reading it from the wrong era.

The framing comments on how unreliable the narrator is ought to undermine the story, it seems to me, but don’t. Is that typically the case? Are we wired to enjoy a good story regardless of what we think about the storyteller?

Short story: “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

First published in Zombies vs. Unicorns (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010); appeared in PseudoPod 581, February 9th, 2018, and replayed July 20th

7.075 words

(Heavy spoilers.) I was hooked from the first few lines. Talking mac and cheese, indeed.

I don’t quite believe Jack would invite Grayson to feed on his father’s body, at least not at the drop of a hat.

Short story: “From the Root”

“From the Root,” by Emma Törzs

Appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, June 2018 (Issue 97), and in the podcast (read and listen)

6,670 words

(Heavy spoilers.) Fascinating, especially the scientific breakthrough the protagonist makes.

The doctor’s anger at being “tricked” struck me as an unforgivable betrayal, not to mention a ghoulish one, but the story surprisingly doesn’t dwell on it, and neither apparently does the protagonist.

The author’s work has also appeared in Ploughshares and won an O. Henry. She says in her interview, “I’m new to writing science fiction/fantasy, and as a grown-up writer I’d never written what you’d call a speculative story until this past summer, when I attended Clarion West.” Nice to see authors successfully moving across those genres.