Saturday, February 18, 2017

Short Story Reading in February 2017, Part 1

In late January, Richard Robinson at Tip the Wink suggested Short Story February, where we will focus on short stories during that month. I have read a couple of books for previous commitments this month, but for the most part, I have been reading short stories this month.

I finished one book of short stories by Michael Gilbert, Game Without Rules. There are eleven stories in this book, and they are all about the spies, Mr Calder and Mr Behrens. Both are in their fifties, and called upon when needed to handle special projects and missions. It is a wonderful book and I loved all the stories. I cannot even name a favorite. I will do a separate post on this book later.

The stories in this book are:
  1. "The Road to Damascus"
  2. "On Slay Down"
  3. "The Spoilers"
  4. "The Cat Cracker"
  5. "Trembling's Tours"
  6. "The Headmaster"
  7. "Heilige Nacht"
  8. "Upon the King..."
  9. "Cross-Over"
  10. "Prometheus Unbound"
  11. "A Prince of Abyssinia"

The rest of the books I sampled stories from, although I do hope to finish one of two of them before the end of the month. They are:

Miniatures by John Scalzi
Miniatures is a small book full of very short stories. The stories are all science fiction, but of the ones I have read so far, they are all so light and humorous that they really don't feel like science fiction at all.
  1. "Pluto Tells All"
  2. “Denise Jones, Superbooker”
  3. "When the Yogurt Took Over"
  4. "The Other Large Thing"
  5. "The State of Super Villainy" ( follow-up to Denise Jones, Superbooker)
  6. "New Directive for Employee-Manxte Interactions"


IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW
Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper
edited by Lawrence Block
  1. "Girlie Show"  by Megan Abbott
  2. "The Story of Caroline" by Jill D. Block
  3. "Soir Bleu" by Robert Olen Butler
  4. "The Truth About What Happened" by Lee Child
  5. "Rooms by the Sea" by Nicholas Christopher
I especially liked "Girlie Show", a story about a woman who is forced by her husband to pose for the painting he is working on. A dark story with a very good ending.
And "The Story of Caroline" about a daughter who wants to see her birth mother.
And "Rooms by the Sea", which is about an unusual family with an unusual house, with elements of magical realism.


Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics
edited by Lawrence Block
  1. “Mrs. Manstey’s View” by Edith Wharton (1891) – This was the author’s first published short story.
  2. “A Poker Game” by Stephen Crane (1902) – Didn't really get this story.
  3. “The Furnished Room” by O. Henry (1906) – Dark with an ironic ending.
  4. “Spanish Blood” by Langston Hughes (1934) – Set in Harlem,during the Prohibition era.
  5. “Sailor off the Bremen” by Irwin Shaw (1939) – A tale of revenge, very noir. Lots of violence, the darkest tale so far.
  6. “My Aunt from Twelfth Street” by Jerome Weidman (1939) – A strange story about a young boy who visits his aunt, a Galician, who refuses to live in the same neighborhood as her relatives and others of the same background. 
OxCrimes (introd. by Ian Rankin, ed. by Mark Ellingham and Peter Florence)
  1. "Buy and Bust" by Simon Lewis
  2. "I’ve Seen That Movie Too" by Val McDermid
  3. "Caught Short" by Anthony Horowitz
  4. "An Afternoon" by Ian Rankin
All of those stories were very good. The Anthony Horowitz story was darker than I expected from him. The story from Ian Rankin was unusual in that it was written before he had begun writing crime fiction novels. It was interesting but a bit confusing to me, but I did enjoy the comments by Rankin that followed the story.

I had read the first two stories in this book earlier:  "The Dead Their Eyes Implore Us" by George Pelecanos and "Case of Death and Honey" by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed both of those stories also.

15 comments:

  1. I'm not a big fan of short stories, but some of these sound too good to pass up.

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    1. MnJ, I only started reading short stories about 2-3 years ago and now I am really beginning to appreciate them. I have been very surprised at the percentage of stories I have read this month that were exceptionally good. Just lucky, I guess.

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  2. Outstanding, I'll put a link to this post in my Monday SSF update.

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    1. Great, Rick. Almost all of the stories I read this month have been very good (and the others were not bad, just over my head, I think). I have found some wonderful anthologies.

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  3. Oh my husband would love that book of spy stories. And glad you liked Megan's story. So hard to get feedback on ss.

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    1. I agree, Patti, your husband would love the book of Calder and Behrens short stories. There is a second one and I am getting a copy soon.

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    2. Patti, the Calder and Behrens stories are terrific.

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  4. Great stuff, Tracy! Looks like you read short stories through different literary periods. I'm envious of Lawrence Block's anthology of the Classics.

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    1. I am enjoying this month set aside for reading short stories, Prashant. I liked the stories I have read in Manhattan Noir Classics so much that I am looking for more books like that in the Akashic series. I found one for New Orleans.

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  5. These sound great, Tracy. I'm especially intrigued by the collection inspired by paintings. Art-inspired writing is fascinating, since there are so many ways in which a piece of art can be interpreted.

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    1. Margot, IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW is a very interesting book. My husband and I have always liked Edward Hopper's paintings so this one really piqued my interest when it was first announced.

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  6. I started the Hopper book a while ago but stopped after reading the opener. I did read a volume of Charles Bukowski's short pieces last month, but ought to read more. I might go back to reading one a day during March.

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    1. Hi, Col, good to hear from you. I have been lucky in my short story reading this month, many more good stories than so so stories. I did sample some from a Paul Brazill book, The Gumshoe and Other Brit Grit Yarns, except that The Gumshoe is a novella and a lots longer than I thought. I liked the ending of that one.

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  7. Coincidentally, I'm reading several Michael Gilbert books at the moment, Tracy. Not all at once, one at a time. Ha. I'm going to order GAME WITHOUT RULES just on your enthusiasm.

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    1. I am eager to buy some more Michael Gilbert books, Yvette, even though I already have a few. I think you would like GAME WITHOUT RULES... but this is the one with the problem with the dog (that was discussed at your post). You could just skip the last story.

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