A Week of Short Stories

by Rachel Baker on May 22, 2011

Most of my reading this past week has been short stories, with two novels thrown in because they were relatively short. I have found over the last few months that I really enjoy the short story, for a couple of reasons.  Though I’m about to state the obvious – number one reason is they are short.  A short story can be read in one evening without the full on commitment required for a novel.  In some ways, if I can’t read a novel straight through, its like watching a full length movie on a channel that has commercials -you lose something from the movie at every commercial break.

The other reason I like short stories is I can read so many different authors in a week. And every single one of them has a different style.  Its easy to get sucked into a specific genre when you are reading novels, at which point, facets of the books all pretty much follow the same formula.  Eventually, one’s reading gets old and tiring and a break is needed.  Reading short stories allows reading novels to stay fresh and exciting without changing up genres just to get a break.

Unfortunately, the good short story to bad short story ratio is pretty low.  More often than not, I question why the author didn’t just write a screenplay rather than try their hand at a short story.  Sometimes, the amount of bad shorts read to get to a good one is extremely disheartening…but those one or two good short stories that show glimpses of brilliance makes it so worthwhile to read several during the week!

That said, without further ado, here’s what I read:

Three short stories from the collection released by Mullohand Books in conjunction with the L.A. Noire video game by Rockstar.  The short stories read are as follows:
See the Woman by Lawrence Block
What’s in a Name by Jonathan Santlofer
Hell of an Affair by Duane Swierczynski

I enjoyed each of them and highly recommend them.  These short stories can be found here; and available for free download or reading.

P.S. I’ve been playing the game too.  Its incredibly fascinating and innovated on the basis that its not a shooter, has a great storyline and is engaging.

I will be talking about both the game and the short stories at some point in the future as part of the Gaming from a Readers Perspective series.

Special Charter by Chris Bauer:
This short story is published by Untreed Reads. The story about a man that buys a one-way ticket on ebay for a special chartered flight to St. Louis.  The passengers are all unique, the flight stops at many destinations, and EVERYONE has a one-way ticket.

This is a well written very short story, which left me wondering what the words “He had reached his destination. Early” actually means.

Collisions by Jesse S. Greever
This short story is published by Untreed Reads. This one is a little odd and for me, at least, left a bit to be desired.  The title is appropriate to the story as we have two people meet by way collision of elbow to ribs and then we have the collision of a ten-speed and a car.  I think Lew (main character) is a bit too over dramatic at one point in the story, which took away from what could have been a very interesting outcome.  Collisions is a little too predictable for my tastes, and could have been better with a bit more purpose and word count.

A quick word about Untreed Reads
Most of their stories can be purchased for $1.50 and none of their titles are over $4.99.  Their titles are available in a multitude of formats and are compatible with most e-reader devices. Untreed Reads is dedicated to bringing an eclectic list of titles from genres ranging from children to literary and literary romance, military and war, minority and diversity, historical and horror, and mystery, crimes and thrillers to the abstract and experimental.  They also have nonfiction full-length titles.

The Man who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King
The story, as the title states, is about a man who not shake hands.  The story is told from a first person point of view by a man who met the non-hand-shaker at a poker game.  The game is described and at the end, one of the losers, an exuberant man reaches out and shakes the man’s hand, even though the non-hand-shaker has repeatedly avoided everyone else’s hands.  Ultimately, the narrator and the man who wouldn’t shake hands has a conversation and the man shows the narrator what happens when he touches any or anything with his hands.  The story continues to unfold and then ends with the non-hand-shaker shaking his own hand.  I really liked this story.

This short story can be found in Skeleton Crew by Stephen King and published by Signet.  Skeleton Crew is King’s second collection of stories; and contains the short novel The Mist, 20 short stories and two poems.

Zor:Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science by J.B.
This 268 page story is a self-published book using Amazon’s CreateSpace.  The story is reminiscent of the Celestine Prophecy, with a bit of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance thrown in and maybe just a dash of The Alchemist.  The parable is told, for the most part, by the main character, John Brewster. The jist of the story is we all have the ability to change the world – not save it, change it – and in a series of conversations with Zor about philosophy, spirituality and science, Brewster begins to understand a bit about how our daily actions can affect this change.   There will probably be a review posted some time this week.

The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin
This 374 page book was published last year by Doubleday October, 2010.  It was engaging, but…if you combined Stephen King’s It, The Dead Zone, Wizards and Glass (the old scary crone specifically from that book),  a little bit of Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut, and probably a few others, you’d have The Dead Path. Though it was well-written, it became more of a game to name the King stories that influenced the book – part of this started because the publisher chose to add the guardian’s comparison to King on the book jacket, marketing with the Stephen King name (bad move in my opinion – as the only real comparison was in the bits and pieces from King’s stories).  Its worth reading though, and in fairness, I really had a difficult time putting it down because I was interested in seeing how it would end. Unfortunately, when I got to the end, I was annoyed that I’d gotten to sleep at 5am and didn’t just shut the book and go to sleep earlier. The ending was a great disappointment and though utterly predictable, I kept holding out that maybe this new author would do something different and astounding.

Happy Reading and Have a Great Week!

Rachel

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