A short story a day review

Tag: Lynne Heitman

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 If I read an unpublished story (I’m a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series), I didn’t write about it.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.

Exit Interview by Lynne Heitman

by Barb Goffman

44/366 from the anthology Boston Noir, edited by Dennis Lehane (Akashic Books 2009)

What should have been the best day of Sloan’s life turns into the worst. Or maybe the second-worst. As one character tells her, “It’s just a wrong-place-wrong-time-bad-chain-of-events kind of deal, and if one thing had gone different yesterday, maybe none of this happens.”

I like to think of myself as a good writer, and then I read a story like this–which blew me away–and I’m inspired to keep practicing and trying to improve. It isn’t the plot of the story so much as the way it’s told. The author draws you in to Sloan’s head, and you are right there in that moment and it’s so real. I can’t even describe why it struck me so. I’ll just say: go read it. Buy this book or borrow it from the library, and read this story! It was the lead story in the book for a reason.