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Tag: unnamed major characters

Short story: “Omakase”

“Omakase,” by Weike Wang

Appeared in the New Yorker, June 18th, 2018, and on The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)

Several thousand words

This fucking guy. I love the subtle ways the story shows that he’s a bit of a jerk. He tells the woman (neither are ever named, I’m not sure why) she’s overthinking, and perhaps he means it, and the truth is she’s not, she’s just sensitive to matters of race and to the man’s respect for her.

Even his impressive knowledge of foreign cultures is irritating to me somehow, it’s like he’s using Chinese pottery and sushi and expert chopstick technique to prove how cosmopolitan he is. And it’s subtle enough that it’s hard to put your finger on what’s wrong. I hope the woman realizes all this before it’s too late.

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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: “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties”

“Teddy Bears and Tea Parties,” by S. Boyd Taylor

Appeared in ChiZine #41, July 2009; read in Drabblecast 146, January 14th, 2010, and in a Drabblecast Director’s Cut episode, June 26th, 2018; also published as a Kindle book and available on Scribd

A few thousand words

Eh, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Feels like weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Not that it’s not well written; it certainly succeeds in being original as horror.

I got a craving after listening to this, and ended up having a bagel with grape jelly. Delicious.

Short story: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor

First published in The Avon Book of Modern Writing (Avon Books, 1953); anthologized in The House of Fiction (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960); collected in A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955); anthologized all over the place; online hereread by the author here

6,463 words

I like this story without really knowing what it means. I love the grandmother. She’s so annoying, so unwittingly ridiculous, it’s actually cute.

Wikipedia offers several interpretations of the story. J. Stillwell Powers, on the Ploughshares blog, subscribes to the “moment of grace” one, which I like:

“The grandmother experiences her own dismantling as her family is executed. Her attempts to reason with the Misfit prove futile, and she is forced to confront the failure of her worldview as a means for salvation. Stripped of the perspectives she has clung to, she turns inward for redemption, and, in this moment, sees clearly for the first time. Here lies her moment of grace. Beneath the muzzle of the Misfit’s gun, she suddenly perceives the Misfit’s humanity, recognizing it as her own.”

This seems like the interpretation O’Connor most likely intended. Not to imply that the author’s intention is the last word.

Now Bessie Smith’s great rendition of the song of the same title is stuck in my head.

Short story: “Her Brother and His Sister”

“Her Brother and His Sister,” by Bill Kte’pi

Appeared in The Dark, January 2018, online here

2,278 words

A dark, eerie tale.

Short story: “Big Mother”

“Big Mother,” by Anya Ow

Appeared in Strange Horizons in the January 1st, 2018 issue

4,991 words

(Spoilers.) A neat ghost story/monster story, with a bittersweet ending.

I like this line: “‘Go get Dad’s torch,’ I told Kang, who thankfully didn’t argue. Argument would have broken the fragile inch of my determination.” “[F]ragile inch” is good.

Short story: “SPELL to Shed One’s Ideology in the Gods’ Domain”

“SPELL to Shed One’s Ideology in the Gods’ Domain,” by Lucy Biederman

Appeared in Wigleaf, November 2017

317 words

Movingly banal. The main character may never achieve anything notable, but he clings to what he has, thinking nothing bad could ever happen in electronics.

Short story: “A Howling Dog”

“A Howling Dog,” by Nick Mamatas

Featured in PseudoPod 562, September 29th, 2017

2,166 words

Clever, though I thought the ending was rather abrupt and over the top. Of course, if you leave off the ending, it’s not horror.

Short story: “The Rememberer”

“The Rememberer,” by Johanna Skibsrud

Appeared in Granta 141: Canada, online here November 9th, 2017; also online here in Maclean’s Magazine; also online here in Street Level Pundit

3,418 words

A really interesting story, seems to be a kind of parable. Reminds me a bit of Steven Millhauser.

It bothers me that Granta is inconsistent in the way it formats section breaks.

Novel excerpt: “Bastard Alias the Romantic”

“Bastard Alias the Romantic,” by Yuri Herrera, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman

Excerpted from The Transmigration of Bodies (from the publisher And Other Stories); appeared in Granta, June 27th, 2016, online here

4,207 words

I thought at first that this was a short story, and perhaps it doesn’t stand on its own that well, since I didn’t really get it as a story. I guess it’s about the creeping fear of death, and the way people avoid or repress it?

I think he rapes her, briefly, at the end, but it’s hard to tell. In any case he deliberately exposes them both to the possibility of catching the plague.