lookihaveopinions

Tag: unhappy endings

Short story: “The Wretched and the Beautiful”

“The Wretched and the Beautiful,” by E. Lily Yu

Appeared in Terraform, February 6th, 2017

2559 words

An elegant story. While I have no doubt about the author’s politics, the story itself makes its point with delicacy, almost ambiguity.

A nice touch: “For this special edition of Terraform, the writer, award-winning E. Lily Yu, artist, Jason Arias, and me, the editor, will be donating our fees to the International Rescue Committee, a group founded at the behest of Albert Einstein, which assists refugees around the world.”

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Short story: “When the Lady Speaks”

“When the Lady Speaks,” by Damien Angelica Walters

First appeared in the anthology What Fates Impose, August 15th, 2013, by Alliteration Ink (on Goodreads); subsequently online here in Gamut

3333 words

Cool piece.

I think Marian changes her name to Marina to play her fortune teller role, but later the fortune teller is called Marian too. Probably a copy editor’s error.

Short story: “Pray on the Weak”

“Pray on the Weak,” by Katja L. Kaine

Appeared in Fabula Argentea, October 2nd, 2017

2404 words

Really evokes the main character’s frustration and struggle. I didn’t care for the last line, which seems to raise questions that belong in another, different story.

Short story: “What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You”

“What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You,” by Sara Taylor

Appeared in Granta, October 28th, 2016

1915 words

Creepy. I’m pleased to see Granta publishing something that wouldn’t feel out of place in Nightmare or Pseudopod—they’re genre-flexible when the writing is good.

I can’t decide if I’m satisfied with the ending. The reveal that refuses to resolve anything reminds me of “Suzanne Delage.”

Short story: “The Testimonie of Alyss Teeg”

“The Testimonie of Alyss Teeg,” by Carys Davies

Appeared in Ploughshares Summer 2016; the opening can be read on Project MUSE

Pages 25–37 in the magazine, maybe 3000 words?

A fine, cruel story.

The eccentric spelling and capitalization seem to insist on the authenticity of the narrative voice. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing; it made me pay closer attention to the narrator’s diction and syntax, asking myself whether someone could have written this without being what I think of as fully literate, questioning, doubting.

The word “testimony” suggests that Alyss is presenting for our judgment the real truth of what happened. But of course she can’t give us the real truth, any more than she could give it in court; the real truth is hidden in the heart of her sibling, the one she never stops calling “James Elward.”

Short story: “Double Time”

“Double Time,” by John Chu

First appeared in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Twelve Planet Press), edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (buy the ebook); reprinted in Mothership Zeta issue 0 (September 21st, 2015)

Roughly 4,478 words

A touching story, but I found the ending sad in a way I’m not sure was intended or not. What a terrible fate, to get the pride and approval you need only by cheating time and eavesdropping.

Short story: “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism”

“20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism,” by Jon Padgett

First appeared in the 2013 anthology The Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., which won that year’s Shirley Jackson Award; read beautifully for episode 433 of Pseudopod, April 9th, 2015

Maybe 3,000 words?

Deliciously creepy.

I found myself pleased by the long introductory section, which gives only faint hints of what is to come. It’s worth spending some time building up anticipation and setting the tone. And, of course, it gives us all a valuable lesson in ventriloquism.

Short story: “Unwell”

“Unwell,” by Carolyn Parkhurst

Appeared in the anthology Stories: All-New Tales (2010), edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, which won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Edited Anthology

Maybe 8,000 words?

Deliciously nasty. This is the best kind of unlikable character—the one who keeps us guessing what awful thing she’s going to do next.

Short story: “The Truth and All Its Ugly”

“The Truth and All Its Ugly,” by Kyle Minor

Published in various places, including The New Black, an anthology of dark fiction edited by Richard Thomas; appeared here on Fifty-Two Stories (Harper Perennial) in the week of March 9th, 2010; read for Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

6,562 words

This is really good.

The setup in the first sentence doesn’t work the way I want it to. I feel like the story lulls us into believing it takes place in our own present-day world (or something close to it), and then pulls this twist out of nowhere. Maybe that’s the intention, but I don’t like it. What I like is the emotional truth of the story and the narrator’s voice.

Short story: “The Terrors of Basket-Weaving”

“The Terrors of Basket-Weaving,” by Patricia Highsmith

Collected in The Black House in 1981; also in The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith and Selected Novels and Short Stories

? words

This story bears some resemblance to Virginia Woolf’s “Solid Objects,” which portrays a similar obsession (artistic? primal? both?). One protagonist ultimately abandons civilization, the other clings to it.

The title is so grandiose that I wonder if the author is having some fun at her character’s expense. After all, Highsmith is a practitioner of a craft as ancient as basket-weaving, and is far more dedicated to it.

Then there’s the symbolism of an empty, torn-up baby basket finding its way to someone who is childless by choice. Contrary to the usual trope, Diane doesn’t seem to be threatened by the symbolic loss of a child, or the lost opportunity to have one, only by her own latent creative potential. Maybe that’s why the symbolism doesn’t weigh the story down: the thing being symbolized is somewhat unexpected, and mysterious.