Showing posts from May, 2014

Short Story #150: Passengers by Robert Silverberg

Title:  Passengers Author:  Robert SilverbergSummaryThe protagonist awakes in his room certain that he has been visited by a passenger.  The passengers arrived several years ago and randomly inhabit people's bodies for up to several days.  When the passenger leaves, the person awakes with little to no recollection of what has occurred during the period.  As it happens, the protagonist awakes on a Friday morning, having been possessed on Tuesday.  He decides to skip work and go off for a walk in the city.  As he passes different people, he picks out who are carrying passengers and who isn't.  Eventually, he finds himself on the steps of the library with other people who have had passengers seem to be hanging out today.  Here, he sees a woman that he saw earlier and who seems familiar to him.  He soon is given the insight that she was the woman whom his passenger spent the last few days with.  He decides to talk to her and break norms to talk to her about the passenger (it's…

Short Story #149: The Road to Mictlantecutli by Adobe James

Title:   The Road to MictlantecutliAuthor:  Adobe JamesSummaryThe story begins with Morgan, captured by a Mexican federal officer named Hernandez.  This isn't the first time that Morgan has been captured and managed to escape and he fully intends to do so again.  At a stop along the long trek back to the US border, Morgan seizes the moment to quickly dispatch the officer.  Once gone, Morgan proceeds to take the car down a road that heads to Linaculan.  He rides for several hours but as it gets dark and the terrain gets fierce, he's questioning his decision about going to this town.  He passes an old priest walking the road in the night.  He considers giving the man a ride but keeps on driving.  However, after passing the man, he gets a haunting sensation that he is headed for trouble.  Just at this moment, his car gives and results in the car rolling.  When he awakes, the priest has taken him from the vehicle and is awaiting patiently.  The priest agrees to walk with the ungra…

Tales of Running: The Injury Edition

While such things are bound to happen when one engages in athletic training (or rather just in the course of life), it is still a major disappointment when one ends up with an injury.  Thus rather than regular updates about my runs during May such as the marathon and the half-marathon I had lined up, I'm writing about my injury.  To pour salt on the literal (though not open) wound, I sustained the injury while not running.  For many athletes, that's the pinnacle of disappointments when it comes to running (Ok, I can't really say this with any certainty but it would seem that injuring one's self while doing the thing you love to do is somehow more acceptable.  

Several days after I did my personal best half-marathon, I was running.  I ran about 13 miles that day and was doing things around the apartment.  I had a crick in my neck from the night before and was doing some rigorous work around the apartment when I felt a my whole left shoulder and neck area flair up in pain…

Short Story #148: Black Wind by Bill Pronzini

Title:  Black WindAuthor:  Bill PronziniSummaryThe narrator runs a diner in upstate New York and it's about closing time.  He's set to close early as it is a cold November night and he's recalling the black-wind, a might fierce wind that carries the voices of evil spirits--or at least that's what the local legends say.  A couple enters the diner, dashing his hopes of an early escape.  The couple's body language and then actual language tells him these two are quite at odds and angry with one another.  They appear married (both have wedding bands) but the tension is palpable.  They continue to grumble and show disdain for one another.  Eventually, the man goes out to the car to start it up with the woman is paying for the food.  She's fumbling through her purse, hands him cash and leaves without getting change.  The narrator finds the whole thing strange but he's all the happier to be done with them.  However, as he's closing up, he realizes that the wom…

Short Story #147: The Jam by Henry Slesar

Title:  The JamAuthor:  Henry SlesarSummaryStukey takes Mitch out for a ride to go find a dealer in New Jersey.  Mitch is in rough shape, coming down from a high and curled up in the seat.  Aiming to make good time, Stukey drives crazily through the streets of New York.  He nicks and dings cars around him and Mitch goads him on.  He angers other drivers or is enraged by them swearing and cursing away.  They make their way into a tunnel which seems to go on forever and Stukey takes more risks.  As they exit the tunnel, they encounter a traffic jam that is going virtually nowhere.  Stukey and Mitch both become angry and Stukey continues to get out of the car to see what the problem is but it seems like the back up is for miles.  When a cop comes by Stukey all but demands that something be done because he needs to be somewhere.  The cop laughs and goes onto explain that Stukey and Mitch died in the tunnel back there, having caused a collision.  This traffic jam is their afterlife and the…

Short Story #146: The Roaches by Thomas M. Disch

Title:  The RoachesAuthor:  Thomas M. DischSummaryMarcia Kenwell has an obsessive fear of cockroaches.  She routinely scours her apartment with roach-kill, disinfectant, and cleaner.  Ever since she moved to the city she has been unable to rid herself of the pesky bugs.  She was warned about them by her aunt and her mother had a phobia to all bugs, but Marcia first encounters them at one of her first jobs and it has been a never-ending battle since then.  She desperately seeks a new place to live especially after the neighbors move in next door.  The two men and one woman (unclear who is related and who is a lover) are loud, foreign, and dirty as Marcia sees it.  Their presence brings in more roaches and this deeply angers Marcia.  One day, she encounters some roaches in her apartment and without thinking, she verbally commands them to leave.  In an instant, all the roaches leave the apartment.  She slowly finds she has the ability to command the roaches.  In a frenzy of anger, she di…

Literature As Reformation: The Changing Lives Through Literature Program

I just finished my first time running a Changing Lives Through Literature program this past week.  The program is consists of 8 weekly meetings with individuals on parole wherein we talk about assigned short stories or novels read.  Essentially, it's a reading club for people on parole.  It's purpose to help people on parole engage with ideas through reading and have the opportunity to accomplish something as part of their progress to full rehabilitation in society.  Depending on the elements of their parole, participants often volunteer to be in the program and in doing some, some may have time taken off their parole sentence.  

It is a program that I found out about through a colleague and expressed interest in last year.  However, it was not my first encounter with the program.  In fact, I wrote this blog post for one CLTL group a few years ago on my love for the writings of Kate Chopin.  Earlier this year, I was contacted by an officer interested in starting up a new group …

Short Story #145: A Teacher's Rewards by Robert Phillps

Title:  A Teacher's RewardsAuthor:   Robert PhillpsSummary An elderly woman and retired teacher, Miss Scofield answers her door to Raybe Simpson.  Raybe was her student many years ago and she has all but forgotten him.  She invites Raybe in who happens to be visiting and the two talk for a while.  During the conversation, Raybe asks questions about how she is doing, has she married, what does she do nowadays.  She answers in kind and continues to try to remember Raybe from her classes.  He identifies different things from his class, things she said to him (such as unfortunate nicknames) and did (rapping his knuckles with the ruler).  He offers other names of his peers to whom she remembers including who was her favorite student.  Raybe begins more probing questions and soon reminds her of how cruel she was to him.  She denies it and eventually asks him to leave, but he refuses to let her go and precedes to exact this revenge with a hammer that he has brought.  

ReflectionA standard …

Short Story #144: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by William Saroyan

Title:  The Daring Young Man on the Flying TrapezeAuthor:  William SaroyanSummary The begins with a stream of thought that traverses various topics from Rome to the Eiffel Tower to Cadillacs in California.  It is clear, these are the extravagant dreams of a destitute man.  He awakes and wanders the city, partly searching for food and in part searching for meaning.  He finds a penny to which he believes will provide him some hope for the day as he wanders.  He ponders his life and its meaning and whether he should continue one with living.  He eventually finds himself in what appears to be an unemployment line where he is interviewed about this abilities.  He explains he is a writer and the woman takes his information before dismissing him.  He visits other unemployment agencies with similar results.  He reflects upon his life and continues with a few other activities throughout the day before retiring to his rented room at the YMCA.  The story ends with him dying.  

ReflectionIt's a…

Short Story #143: Miggles by Brett Harte

Title:  Miggles
Author:  Brett HarteSummaryIn the midst of a storm, a group of travelers are stuck between two rained out sections of a road and a bridge.  They discover that there is one place they could seek refuge, Miggles.  With most unfamiliar with Miggles, they are brought to what appears an abandoned house.  They repeatedly call out for Miggles in the midst of the storm but no one answers.  They finally enter in without permission into the house.  There, they find a man all but lifeless sitting in a chair.  Just as they thought this was Miggles, a woman enters who says she is Miggles.  She explains that she had been outside for a while and saw them from afar heading towards her house and so raced to meet them.  When they ask about the catatonic man in the house, she explains that it's her friend, Jim whom she has taken to care for.  Over the course of the evening, they discover that Miggles used to work at a saloon (presumably as a prostitute) and Jim regularly spent money o…

Short Story #142: A Career by Andre Maurois

Title:  A CareerAuthor:  Andre MauroisSummaryFour life-long friends who are successful in different fields convene together to meet the nephew of one of their group who has just written his first book.  As the group welcomes the young man, their dialogue leads down a path to talk about a fifth member whom no longer is part of their group.  They go into the history of the group to explain why he has disappeared from the group.  The group of them became friends in school and swore an oath that they would form network and do their best efforts to help one another succeed in all possible ways until each had reached their level of success in their respective fields.  They all but forget this pledge until some years after graduating, when they are reunited by chance.  Over the next few years, they slowly build their careers.  Central to their success is Chalonnes, the man who had been lost to the group.  His abilities were supremely critical and regularly helped to refine their different wo…

Short Story #141: September Roses by Robert Dieudonne

Title:  September RoseAuthor:  Robert DieudonneSummaryAuthor-turned-playright, Michel becomes quite close with his lead actress, Marise, to the point of breaking his wedding vows to his wife Marthe.  Despite having a family, he is irresistibly drawn to Marise and she to him.  Marise believes she is falling for him despite her friend, Jane knowing this is just part of Marise's demeanor and remains skeptical of the whole situation.  Michel all but admits to this affair with Marise to Marthe by his actions and frustration with her when she raises questions about his spending time with her.  Their love continues enthusiastically until the play runs and though it is not received well, the two still decide to run away together and ditch their current lives.  Michel writes his wife to tell him he has left while Marise goes home.  Jane claims that she will be back in a week.  While waiting at the station, a man encounters Michel to explain that Marise isn't coming and the man is Maris…

Short Story #140: The Boy by Maurice Courtois-Suffit

Title:  The BoyAuthor:  Maurice Courtois-SuffitSummaryClaude visits a cabaret and falls for a dancer named Flore.  He decides to introduce himself to her and court her.  When he goes to the backroom, Flore is with her friend, Charly and Claude does what he can to take Flore out alone but she is insistent on bringing Charly.  Claude continues to get mix messages from Flore who rarely gives him the chance for the two to be alone and sways back and forth between affection and toying with him.  At one point, Flore directs Claude to take Charly out, which he does reluctantly. The psuedo romance continues with Flore occasionally jealous when Claude shows interests in other women or even decides to leave.  Yet Flore also demands gifts and tokens of affection from Claude, all the while giving him little assurance of her seriousness for him.  Flore eventually convinces Claude of giving her a sum of money that she needs to pay off debts.  Claude gives her the money.  She soon disappears after t…

Short Story #139: The Courageous Hunchback Woman by Honore de Balzac

Title:  The Courageous Hunchback WomanAuthor:  Honore de BalzacSummaryA doctor and a woman friend go up into a hay loft to listen in on a group of lower-class men and women doing work and chatting.  They want to do this as they find it amusing to hear the stories that are told by this group. They marvel at the different people and the exchanges that occur.  One of the people below begin telling a story of the hunchback woman.

While traveling, she resigns herself to asking to stay at a house she doesn't feel comfortable about.  She is offered a room but in the middle of the night she is awoken by two men with knives.  They kill a man within the house.  As they are leaving, they find the woman who is pretending to sleep.  They talk about killing her and feeding her to the pigs, but the woman continues to pretend to sleep, betraying no hint of the truth.  They leave and in the morning, she leaves without saying anything.  In leaving, she moves slowly and as she would regularly would e…

365 Challenge: 30 Stories for April

My month of April was a little challenging to complete all the stories given all the different projects and things going on.  However, I kept plugging away.  In fact, I finished three anthologies which I was pretty happy about.  

The grove has been established and I'm racing through stories, sometimes getting upwards of a week ahead in the blog posts.  Where I'm faulting the most with this project was that it's goal was to reduce the amount of anthologies that I have in my apartment.  Unfortunately, I have continued to purchase new ones (especially old ones) as I visit bookstores and such.  I might have to make a new rule about no more book purchases until I read all the books I have (next year's goal mayhaps?).  

Regardless, I'm four months into this (past the 1/3 mark) and still really enjoying it.  I wasn't sure reading a short story a day and writing about it would be sustainable but I'm finding it is.  Much like my running, it's an act of self-care …