Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: "The Frustration Dream" by Ellis Peters

 


"The Frustration Dream" starts with the narrator describing a type of dream he has sometimes, the frustration dream.

The frustration dream comes in several variations. The most frequent, perhaps, is of setting out to go somewhere, and finding that roads shrivel into narrow lanes before you, and narrow lanes into paths blocked by bushes and briars, rocks, stones, fetid puddles and even nastier obstacles.

... And the really absolute law that applies to all of these dreams is that they never have any ending, never a solution.

He moves on to describing an experience he once had that seemed like a frustration dream, but it was real. Initially the story he is telling seems like a dream, then like a nightmare, and then it is a story of a crime. Except that in the end it is not so straightforward as that. 

At first I did not think I liked the story; it wasn't my type of thing. But then, after I finished it, I kept thinking about it, and that is always a good sign. All in all, I found this to be a very well-done and somewhat creepy story.

I found this story in 2nd Culprit: A Crime Writers' Annual, published in 1993.  Later. it was included in a collection of Ellis Peters' short stories, The Trinity Cat and Other Mysteries, published by Crippen & Landru.


Using the name Ellis Peters, Edith Pargeter wrote two series of mysteries, the Cadfael Mysteries set in the twelfth century and the George Felse series. Under her own name she wrote historical fiction and non-fiction.


18 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I often change how I feel about a short story after I think about it. That rarely happens with novels unless I reread the entire work.

Jerry House said...

Peters/Pargeter was a great writer. Heretically, I much prefer Inspector Felse to Brother Carfael.

TracyK said...

I haven't read much by Peters, Jerry, only the first Inspector Felse book and the first Brother Cadfael book. I have more books in both series and plan to read them.

TracyK said...

Patti, I guess that is the benefit of reading only one story at a time and giving it some time to percolate. Sometimes when I read a novel my mind will change (to a higher "rating") within the next couple of days.

Rick Robinson said...

I love the Cadfael novels (I have and have read them all) and stories, but the other writings, not so much. I didn't enjoy Trinity Cat very much, as I recall, and don't even think I still have it.

TracyK said...

Rick, I was just wondering why I have not read more of the Cadfael books. Too many books calling to me I guess.

I read "The Trinity Cat" short story in THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS STORIES several years ago but I don't remember if I liked it. I may try it again.

Rick Robinson said...

I meant the story collection of that name, I don't recall the particular story.

TracyK said...

Rick, I assumed you meant the collection because I know you have bought a good number of the Crippen & Landru collections. I wish I had done that. Recently I have purchased a few online, but before that I only had three or four of them.

Sam Sattler said...

I love the cover of this compilation. Short stories are something I almost always enjoy, but I've been neglecting them so far this year. I often think that writing a short story is probably more difficult than writing a novella or a novel. Authors really have to be clever to pack into a limited number of pages all the character development and plot to make us keep reading. I was reading a lot of Flash Fiction collections for a while, and was amazed at how good some of the one-page stories were.

TracyK said...

I like the cover a lot, too, Sam. I have always avoided very short fiction, like flash fiction, but for a long time I did not appreciate short stories so I may change my mind about flash fiction someday.

Margot Kinberg said...

I know what you mean, Tracy, about a story that stays with you, even though you don't think you like it as you're reading it. That's happened to me, too. And this one does sound eerie and even a little unsettling. That fine line between dreams and reality can make for a psychologically suspenseful story, and I'm glad you got something out of this one.

TracyK said...

Margot, the story was a little unsettling, for sure.

FictionFan said...

I love the Cadfael books though it's been a while since I last read any of them, but I've never come across her short stories. This sounds intriguing and rather different in style. I must look out for the collection.

TracyK said...

FictionFan, one thing I have noticed when reading stories from anthologies is how different an author's short stories may be from their novels. I am new to the Cadfael series and I feel like I will never catch up.

Rick Robinson said...

With Cadfael, it's easy. Read one at a time, IN ORDER, they're not long and go down easily. I think you'll be glad you did.

TracyK said...

Rick, I have books 2 and 3 in the series so I am set to get started. I am eager to do that, after I finish my 20 books of summer list.

NancyElin said...

The book mentioned in the image is not in print….anywhere!
If you have it, well, it must be a collector’s item.
The image does reveal some new names of CF writers I can explore.
Oh, and the Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Parteger (20 books in the series)
looks like a project I can sink my teeth into!

TracyK said...

Nancy, I cannot remember where I found this book of short stories, but once I did, I went to a lot of trouble tracking down the first one (1st Culprit) and the third one (3rd Culprit). I probably bought them all online. (Years ago.) I could not remember where I had shelved them and when I finally found them, I pulled this one out to read more stories from.

I liked the first book in the Cadfael Chronicles and I agree that they would be a good project, assuming you enjoy it too.