“Take a Walk in the Night, My Love,” by Damien Angelica Walters
First published in the anthology The Madness of Dr. Caligari (Fedogan and Bremer Publishing LLC), edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.; featured in PseudoPod 606, August 10th, 2018
(Spoilers, big ones.) The unfolding mystery was great, though the title should have tipped me off that the husband was behind it somehow—the title and for that matter the first line. I must have been distracted. But then the husband reveal is followed up with an even bigger one. I like the reference to Rebecca, though maybe that’s too much? Not sure.
“Eva Is Inside Her Cat,” by Gabriel García Márquez, as translated by J. S. Bernstein
Appeared in the collection Eyes of a Blue Dog in 1972; found in Collected Stories (1984), which was reprinted by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2008); online here and supposedly here, though I couldn’t get the latter link to open
8 pages (?), 4,280 words (though it feels shorter—my estimate was embarrassingly far off)
I officially don’t understand magic realism. Márquez’s work is beautifully written (at least in translation) and seems psychologically believable, but what’s going on? Perhaps this is not so much a magic realism story as a story that’s deliberately ambiguous about its reality: the protagonist may be dying and becoming a ghost, or she may be experiencing an extreme mental state and hallucinating.
As this commentary on The Reading Life remarks, it’s worth wondering whether a beautiful woman ever really thinks of her beauty this way—whether any beautiful woman has ever written of a similar experience. I feel like fiction by men contains an improbable number of beautiful women who are universally attractive to hetero-attracted men, as though men’s tastes never vary.
At the end it seems (spoilers) that she’s been dead for a long while, death having distorted her sense of time.
I don’t understand the title, since she never seems to get inside the cat. She may already be inside the cat without knowing it, but her experiences don’t seem tinged with catness or with the physicality of the cat.
“Border Crossing,” by Ann Copeland
Maybe 3,000 words?
I liked this story. The title seems to suggest what disturbs the main character: some kind of trespassing across the borders that divide his life as a father from his life as a man.
I’m curious about how a (presumably) female author approaches the interiority of a male character.
“For Jeromé—with Love and Kisses,” by Gordon Lish
Apparently orginally came out in 1983; appeared in The Antioch Review, Vol. 68, No. 3, Annual All Fiction Issue (Summer 2010), pp. 546–588—JSTOR link here
43 pages, no idea how many words
I had a hard time with this story because it just goes on and on. It’s clever, but it’s not clever enough to hold up all the way through. I had no idea Lish could get so verbose, based on his work on Carver.
The title, with its play on “For Esmé,” falls flat for me. Maybe that’s deliberate—the narrator read “For Esmé” and its subtlety was completely lost on him.
Thomas Pynchon was apparently not really born Pinkowitz, but I can see why the joke was too good to give up.
“Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes,” by Thomas Ligotti
First appeared in Nyctalops #17 in 1982; featured in Pseudopod 434, April 17th, 2015
No idea how many words
An effective story.
The title is a pun on a poem/song that, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the story. I would have titled it “The Hypnotist,” banal as that is.
“Better to Curse the Darkness than Light a Candle,” by Joseph Cusumano
Featured in PseudoPod 561, September 22nd, 2017; ably read by Cheyenne Wright
Maybe 5,000 words? Not sure (the podcast is 43:06)
A good witchy story.
The title is clever (and made me want to listen), but it doesn’t fit the tone; I would have called it “Diogenes.”
“Beyond Sapphire Glass,” by Margaret Killjoy
Appeared in Strange Horizons, August 10th, 2015
For someone like me who sees artificial/simulated consciousness as just another form of consciousness, this is a little tragedy. Janna has a chance to change her (?) mind and join Hannah in “heaven.” Instead she torments herself talking to someone whom she considers dead, making it harder for either of them to grieve and move on.
Not a big fan of this line: “I got that vacant look on my face.” I get what the narrator means, but it would flow much more naturally if the observation explicitly came from another character, like: “Kevin says I get this vacant look sometimes. I think I had it then.”
I accidentally listened to this podcast episode twice because while the story itself is memorable, the title and the title image are both meh. Very generic fantasy stuff.