A short story a day review

Category: LGBT

#48: The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life, by Zen Cho

by djsacramento

#48: The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life, by Zen Cho

Synopsis: Angela’s side of the dragon/Prudence story.

She thought she would probably need one pair of formal shoes, but she couldn’t decide whether she should pack the new fancy shoes—which were beautiful and appropriate, but untried—or the old stalwart black peeptoes. They were a little manky, but they had seen her through May Balls and medsoc dinners alike.

“Bring both,” said her old self.

Her old self could not enter the room without Angela’s permission. She hovered at the window, peering in.

Angela was not going to invite her in. It was a cold night, but the dead don’t feel the cold.

I don’t know if it’s obvious by now, but I’m a huge Zen Cho fan. I would love to hear Zheng Li’s side of the story too. Or one of the singing tomatoes.

“The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life” is available online for free.

Lavinia and Mary Have an Adventure, by Poshcat

by djsacramento

#30: “Lavinia and Mary Have an Adventure” by Poshcat

Synopsis: Downton Abbey fanfic in which Lavinia is courageous, Mary is resourceful and Sir Richard is a mustache-twirling utter cad.

Lavinia waits for the chauffeur to come running after them to stop them, but perhaps he’s inside having supper because soon enough they’re on the main road and nobody seems to have noticed them at all. “I think you should keep the lights off,” Lavinia advises.

“Good, because I don’t know how to turn them on,” Mary says. “I’ve only driven in the daytime.” She glances over at Lavinia. “Are you all right?”

I’ve actually never seen “Downton Abbey” but I have a thing for women in distress who turn up courageous and resourceful. And this is an exceptionally well-written vignette about period-appropriate adventures. Featuring drunk and unsuitable twinks. It’s marvelous.

“Lavinia and Mary Have an Adventure” is free online at An Archive Of Our Own.

Crankset, by Kate Roman

by djsacramento

#16: Crankset, by Kate Roman

Synopsis: A short, sweet placeporn piece featuring two guys in love, and a city full of inappropriately priced real estate.

Squatting on a dropcloth spread over the rough gravel, Matt glared at a set of cantilevered brakes and threw his screwdriver down in disgust.

Jason didn’t look up from where he was stretched out full-length, arms crossed behind his head, eyes closed. “That’ll teach ’em.”

“That was just a warning shot, sweetheart. Letting them know I’m onto their tricks.”

Jason stretched out his good leg, rolling his ankle, cracking it in each direction. He yawned and contentedly adjusted himself through his shorts. “Yeah, you’ve definitely got ’em running scared. I’ve never seen such terrified bike parts before.”

“Crankset” is available online here.

Larry’s Place, by Michelle Tea

by djsacramento

#13: Larry’s Place, by Michelle Tea

Synopsis: A day in the life of Bernal Hill apartment-dwellers, noir-style.

If you ask me, houses shouldn’t have been built down here. These little block-long streets cease abruptly at the open space that remains on the side of the hill, and the hill is angry that development has crept so close. It whips these pathetic homes with a battering, constant wind. It sends soggy clouds to sit damply atop the roofs, trickling stagnant moisture, birthing deep green molds. It sends its monsters, the horrifying Jerusalem crickets, up from the soil to invade basement apartments, looking like greasy, translucent alien insects. They drive me crying into the bathroom to strategize their eviction from my home.

This was my favorite story find of all last year, and I liked it so much I wound up podficcing it for a friend of mine who rolls that way. It’s a very San Francisco type of noir that basically involves the inherent and slipping architecture of unfairness, sex work, and bad toupees.

“Larry’s Place” appears in San Francisco Noir. I believe in my heart of hearts that the woman on the cover is the narrator of this story.

A Season in Heck, by Poppy Brite

by djsacramento

#7: “A Season in Heck” by Poppy Brite

Synopsis: How not to get ahead in food service: a tale of Rickey and G-man and the rest of the Liquor restaurant crew from an outsider’s perspective.

“I’m kind of scared of Rickey,” Paul admitted. “He’s so… you know… dramatic. I mean, you plate the special wrong, and the next thing you know it’s like a Russian novel around here.”

G-man rubbed his chin thoughtfully, but Paul got the feeling he was trying not to laugh. “Presentation is very important to Rickey,” he said at last.

One of my less favorite Liquor stories holds up well on re-reading. “A Season in Heck” appears in the collection The Devil You Know.

Bayou de la Mere, by Poppy Brite

by djsacramento

#6: “Bayou de la Mere” by Poppy Brite

Synopsis: Two chefs from New Orleans head inland for a weekend vacation and run smack up against one of their pasts.

They were staying on the second floor of a 160-year-old hotel that looked out over the bayou. The place smelled of lemon floor polish and genteelly decaying wood. “I gonna show you up to y’all room,” said the proprietress when they checked in. The accent out here was nothing like the exuberant, full-throated New Orleans one; rather, it was low and musical, with a hint of the French spoken here less than a century ago. The woman’s jet-dark eyes, curious but not overtly hostile, kept slipping back to them as she showed off the room with its double bed. We might not like everything y’all do in New Orleans, Rickey imagined her thinking, but we need y’all money.

Lots of people know Brite as an early 90s purveyor of splatterpunk, but I think his Liquor series, featuring chefs G-man and Rickey and their adventures in the New Orleans restaurant trade, are far and away superior to the splatter and remain some of my serious comfort reads.

Brite knows New Orleans and the surrounding environs and if nothing else, these stories are a beautiful capturing of the region, pre-Katrina. “Bayou de la Mere” appears in the collection The Devil You Know.

A Perfect Honeymoon, by Delilah_Joy

by djsacramento

#3: “A Perfect Honeymoon” by Delilah_Joy

Synopsis: Set after the end of the movie “Some Like It Hot”, this story does perfect justice to the other love story in the film: Osgood and Daphne. And it’s warm and fuzzy and wonderful.

Daphne put on the negligee and took a breath before opening the bathroom door. Osgood had changed into pajama pants and a smoking jacket; he’d turned the lights down and lit a pair of candles.

“Well,” he said, walking toward her. “Aren’t you a vision?”

Daphne ducked her head, embarrassed. She knew the nightgown didn’t leave much to the imagination. No more polite fiction, no more half-pretending.

A Perfect Honeymoon is available online here.

Bliss, by Katherine Mansfield

by djsacramento

#1: “Bliss” by Katherine Mansfield
Author: Katherine Mansfield

Synopsis: childlike narrator Bertha hosts a dinner party and marvels at her guests, her life and the big old pear tree out back.

But of course that’s only half the story. So much of what happens is what’s not told explicitly: Bertha misreading her attraction to one of the dinner guests as simple fascination, her inability to understand what she finds so fascinating about that darn pear tree and why she feels so profoundly disconnected from her own child.

Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at – nothing – at nothing, simply.

Bliss is available online here.