A short story a day review

Month: December, 2012

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

by kattomic

shirley jackson 365“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson


Story 366/366

I’ve been saving my favorite story all year, so will close out this challenge with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I first read it in school when I was an eighth graer and it has stuck with me all these years. I think it may be the greatest short story of the 20th century for so many reasons. I feel personally cheated that she died so young (48)and wish she’d lived to write more books and stories. (She would have been 96 this December 14.) “The Lottery” is widely anthologized and available in many places on the web. One of the things that struck me as I re-read it was the sexual politics of the story, in which boys and men draw for their mothers and wives but young girls draw for themselves (and are eligible for the lottery much earlier than young men). The story was published in 1948 (the same week it was written). Times have certainly changed (see Suzanne Collins’ use of the lottery in Hunger Games.) The craft here is just superb, the little details, the mundane setting, the chilling atmosphere. If you haven’t read the story in a while, here’s your chance. You can read it here.

Happy 2013!

“The Wrinkles” by Troy Keller

by kattomic

troy keller 365“The Wrinkles” by Troy Keller


Story 365/366

Keller is an attorney who writes. This story ponders the concept of biology as destiny. You can read it here at East of the Web. You can read more of Keller’s fiction on his site, Leastwise.

See you tomorrow!

“Envoi” by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis

by kattomic

d b wyndham-lewis 365“Envoi” by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis


Story 364/366

This story takes place on December 29, at the tail-end of a long and relentlessly festive Christmas week at a country house. The story appears in A Chamber of Horrors, edited by John Hadfield.

See you tomorrow!

“The Safe Road” by Caroline M. Yoachim

by kattomic

caroline yoachim“The Safe Road” by Caroline M. Yoachim


Story 362/366

Yoachim is a photographer as well as a writer. “The Safe Road” is about stepping off the path of destruction and is beautifully written. It appears on the Daily SF site. You can read it here. Read more of her writing on her website.

See you tomorrow!

“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol

by kattomic

nikolai gogol“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol


Story 361a/366

This story came up again and again in my search for short stories online. I’d read a lot of Chekov but the only thing I’d ever read of Gogol’s was his satirical Dead Souls, which was one of the works that eventually got him exiled from Russia and which I didn’t really get. This story, one of his most famous, is truly bizarre, opening with a man cutting open a bread roll and fing a nose. My favorite part of the story (which grew a bit tedious for me) was the repeated refrain, “And what happened after that is unknown to all men,” I fear Gogol’s work eludes me. You can read the story here. Let me know what you think.

See you tomorrow!

The Maltese Tater Tot by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

A rich, older man marries a much-younger woman and treasures her with gifts (and an allowance). Suddenly, her jewelry starts going missing, one piece at a time. The husband suspects the wife is up to something and hires a P.I. to figure things out.

And this review marks my end of this challenge. 300 stories officially read in 2012. When it started I hoped to actually read a story a day for a year. That was the exact challenge. That morphed into: Could I read 366 stories in the year, knowing that some days I might not get to read any, but on other days, I could read several? My goal kept changing as I had more non-short-story days than expected: First, 350 stories. Then 325. And now, finally, 300, which I think is a respectable finish.

I should add that I probably read nearly 350 short stories this year, but I didn’t write about them all, which was part of the challenge. If I hated a story, I may not have written about it. If I didn’t finish a story, I didn’t write about it. If I read an unpublished story (I’m a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series), I didn’t write about it. Knowing this makes me feel even better about my 300.

Because of this challenge, I read a lot of authors this year I had never read before, some of whom I’m particularly excited about and will seek out more of their work. These authors include Steve Liskow, Pat Dennis (her Puck stories are so good), David Dean, and Lynne Heitman.

This challenge also gave me the opportunity to read a lot more stories by John Floyd, one of my favorite short-story authors. If you haven’t read him yet, you’re  missing out.

Finally, having read more short stories this year than ever before, especially in such a concentrated period, enabled me to better understand what works in a story and what doesn’t (at least for me). I hope my own writing has improved as a result.

I’ve enjoyed sharing these pages with my fellow readers, especially Katherine Tomlinson and Patti Abbott, who both are on track to hit 366 stories by December 31st. Way to go, ladies! A hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth of Spinetingler for setting up this challenge last December. It’s been a pleasure.

The Lutheran Who Lusted by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

When a lusty Lutheran goes off her meds, again, her amorous intentions could prove fatal. Think Lucy Ricardo but far more dangerous.

“Seven Smiles and Seven Frowns” by Richard Bowes

by kattomic

richard bowes 365“Seven Smiles and Seven Frowns” by Richard Bowes


Story 361/366

Bowes is a much-honored writer of sf and speculative fiction. This is a fairy tale with multiple versions and each with a different meaning. You can learn  more about Bowes on his official site. You can read this story on the Lightspeed site.

See you tomorrow!

Navigatores, Mike Meginnis, BEST AMERICAN SHORTS 2012

by Patti Abbott

Terrific story about a man and his son whose lives have retreated to an existence almost entirely within a fantasy game they are playing.

Paramour, Jennifer Haigh, BEST SHORT STORIES OF 2012

by Patti Abbott

A woman is invited to a tribute for a man she had a strange relationship fifteen years earlier.