Tag: twentieth century

Short story: “Definitely Maybe”

“Definitely Maybe,” by Allee Richards

Appeared in The Lifted Brow, issue 38, June 2018 (buy the issue or read an excerpt of the story)

Several thousand words; I’m getting lazy about word count

A story about being in a bad relationship and very aware of it, and the desperate inadequacy of nineties-style “Girl Power.” Perhaps the inadequacy of more contemporary feminist thinking, too? I like the character bragging about how she used to grow out her underarm hair, to prove she’s better than this.

I can’t get over how much this magazine costs to ship to the U.S. Not sure it contains enough fiction to be worth it, but at least the fiction is good.


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: “Cookie Jar”

“Cookie Jar,” by Stephen King

Appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), apparently in spring of 2016, online here


Really enjoyed this.

Interesting to see a literary-type magazine publishing a speculative piece by a well-known genre writer. Their submissions page says they’re generally not interested in genre.

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: “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?)

Hard and not much fun

“In his author’s note in the 1995 Best American Short Stories, [Steven] Polansky said that ‘Leg’ was ‘hard, and not much fun, to write.’ This was a new one to me — but he was on to something. My best work since then has been the stuff that has made me the most uncomfortable, and that I have been the most anxious about sending out into the world.”

—J. Robert Lennon (x)

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

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: “Jack’s Garden”

“Jack’s Garden,” by V. S. Naipaul

Appeared in the New Yorker October 6th, 1986 (online to subscribers here); read by Karl Ove Knausgaard for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast episode released June 1st, 2016

A lot of words

I was barely able to follow this story on the podcast. I have to agree with Knausgaard that it’s “boring,” but unfortunately I didn’t recognize the redeeming quality he sees in it. At the end it did feel like there was a small, meaningful revelation—too late to capture my attention.

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: “A Girl Like You”

“A Girl Like You,” by Beth Hahn

Appeared in CRAFT, April 13th, 2018

5,176 words

Though told in fragments, this is pretty easy to follow. The only bits I think I got confused about were the parts about the late Richard—there were one or two sections set before the news of his death. I’m also not completely sure where May’s friend Lily comes in, since most of the story finds May alone, in a precarious position, impoverished, navigating a world of men who could hurt her or help her.

The title, and that great line “What sort of girl am I?”, seems to hint at May’s lack of a solid identity in the world.