Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2020 Reading Review

 Books Read in 2020

 

A Little Hatred Joe Abercrombie

Atonement Ian McEwan

Mythos Stephen Fry (collection/mythology)

Matilda Roald Dahl (children’s novel)

Orange World and Other Stories Karen Russell (collection)

Machines Like Me Ian McEwan

Stone Mattress Margaret Atwood (collection)

Hunger Joyce Carol Oates (novella read in The Female of the Species, originally in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

The Overstory Richard Powers

Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford (anthology)

In Sunlight or In Shadow Ed. Lawrence Block (anthology inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper)

Ghost Empire Richard Fidler (history)

The Trouble with Peace Joe Abercrombie

Magic for Beginners Kelly Link (novella read in The Wrong Grave. Originally published in the collection Magic for Beginners)

Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman (collection/ mythology)

Half a King Joe Abercrombie

Tau Zero Poul Anderson

Half the World Joe Abercrombie

The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures Christine Kenneally (Expository)

The Female of the Species Joyce Carol Oates (collection)

Sputnik Sweetheart Haruki Murakami

The Silent Land Graham Joyce

The Wrong Grave Kelly Link (collection)

Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies Kitty Flannagan (memoir/humour)

Kindred Octavia Butler

Ready Player One Ernest Cline

Bagombo Snuff Box Kurt Vonnegut (collection)

Sleep Donation Karen Russell (novella)

The Country of the Blind H.G. Wells (collection)

Welcome to the Monkey House Kurt Vonnegut Jr (collection)

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene (anthology)

Changing Tides Ed. Jaynie Royal & Michelle Rosquillo (anthology)

One Hundred Years of Dirt Rick Morton (memoir)

Eidolon 1 Ed. Jonathan Strahan & Jeremy G Byrne (anthology)

He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse Tim Seeley (author) Tom Derenick & Dan Fraga (illustrators) (graphic novel)

Over to You Roald Dahl (collection)

Half a War Joe Abercrombie

488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct Kitty Flanagan (humour-expository)

Glitter Rose Marianne de Pierres (collection)

Dirty Beasts Roald Dahl (children’s poetry)

Astercote Penelope Lively (children’s novel)

Laughable Loves Milan Kundera (collection)                                                             

 

Highlights with Brief Commentary (Not Reviews)

 

I read more books than I have in a while in 2020, yet only two disappointed, so many that I loved have not received a mention here. I’ve decided to stick to a max. of four favourites in the genre I most consumed, and one to three in the remainder. Brutal, I know.

 

NOVELS

 

Could have easily gone for more here with Joe Abercrombie, and also added Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler and Graham Joyce – and then the list would continue...

 

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie



I devoured five Abercrombie novels this year. His novels remind me of the thrill I once got when I was 10 through to 14 when I read high fantasy – only Abercrombie, like his fellow grimdark writer, George RR Martin, adds adult elements, and the wit and humour and prose far surpass what I read in my young teens. 

 

A Little Hatred is set a few decades after The First Law trilogy. As usual, Abercrombie cheekily borrows storylines from history, and in A Little Hatred, Abercombie incorporates elements of the Industrial Revolution, and I suspect the French Revolution too. Like always, every scene amuses, every page has you craving more. But this time around, Abercrombie stays away from his deliberate late twists and flips, and the work felt better for it. 

 

In a thematic sense, Abercrombie makes salient points regarding gender (there are more focalised female characters), as well as exploring industrialism and emerging capitalist economics within a largely feudal society.  And as per Abercrombie’s norm, his characters exhibit all of our human frailties, especially that of ambition, guilt, and confused motivations. 

 

Atonement Ian McEwan




As good as the critics claim. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of McKewan (especially Nutshell) but for me this is the best so far. SPOLIER ALERT It would be a fantastic historical novel without the ending, but the meta elements in the last part make it absolutely superb. 

 

Machines Like Me Ian McEwan



Reading this so close to Atonement revealed distinct thematic similarities: the controversy and the lies surrounding a sexual encounter, the deception of others and self-deception, the old moral dilemmas that McKewan adores exploring. 


Machines Like Me is an alternative history, a bit like PK Dick’s A Man in the High Castle. This time it’s set in Thatcher’s England. I liked this aspect the most. Most AI I’ve read is set in the future, so the change was especially refreshing. My book club, an astute bunch, believe there are some incongruences and anachronisms within the alternative world, but I enjoyed the ride. The moral ambiguity of AI, the inevitable arguments as to whether AI can possess a soul, whether they can be higher beings than ourselves, and also their potential displacement of humans, are all touched on in an intelligent manner. And rather than paint things in black and white, McKewan offers a more open approach here. As always, his prose is at a standard few writers rival. 

 

The Overstory Richard Powers




To be honest, The Overstory is incredibly vexing at times. The opening series of vignettes in ‘The Roots’ all end with hyperbolic melodrama; the novel’s ending borders on being frustratingly open without the satisfaction of all the threads meeting. But then again, you’ll pensively pause after you've finished the tome in the same manner as a great short story. 

 

So why is it here? Because when Powers is on song, he astonishes: the intelligence, the allusions, the characters and relationships, are all so vividly drawn. And the initial story lines do come together, for the most part, in the middle. ‘The Trunk’ and ‘The Crown’ sections contain some of the most captivating work I’ve read. So despite the frustration, which may also be an integral ingredient in making Powers uniquely brilliant, it’s worth reading for the parts in which Powers simply scintillates. And even within the parts that don't entirely work for me, there is still plenty to admire and reflect on.

 

The Overstory is also a reminder that we are environmental custodians of the world, and how we are failing this stewardship in numerous respects. Powers quite deliberately has written this to drive change, there’s even an analogy within the novel about stories influencing change more than facts (makes sense, look at the tragedy of COVID in the US and the fact that many still blindly believe that Trump has excelled, while the objective facts state the exact opposite). 

 

But I don’t see this imperfect-yet-remarkable work being the catalyst for a new wave of environmental conservationists. The depressing reality is that Power’s ambitious novel most likely only preaches to the already converted, or the believers, like myself. 


While The Overstory won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea (and at times it wasn’t mine) the world benefits from rich, explorative writers like Richard Powers.  


ReadingThe Overstory is an unforgettable experience––as long as you’re willing to take the challenging climb up to the canopy. 

 

CHILDREN'S NOVEL

 

Matilda Roald Dahl



After all these years, I’ve finally read Matilda. Tim Minchin’s musical version of Matilda is also genius, one of the best I’ve seen, so I don’t know how I missed out on reading Matilda until now, especially as Dahl played such a role in my younger reading. Who doesn’t love The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Fantastic Mr Fox, Revolting Rhymes, Danny the Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches and The BFG? Won’t say much about Matilda other than I treasured it. Nobody writes children’s fiction like Dahl.

 

COLLECTIONS

 

Orange World and Other Stories Karen Russell



Another superb collection from Karen Russell. I’ve listed recommended stories from Orange World on both my 2019 & recent 2020 beloved story lists. I'm enthralled by Karen Russell’s writing and worlds. Russell courageously blends genre and realist elements, and as such, Russell is my go-to short story writer. 

 

The Stone Mattress Margaret Atwood



I’ve found Atwood’s writing more imbued with humour of late. These stories are fantastic. Many play with genre, often subverting it with meta elements. Funny, witty, and simply fab prose. 

 

The Female of the Species Joyce Carol Oates



I started this years ago, and although I delighted in many of the stories, I’d abandoned it. The return lived up to my expectations. Oates has plenty of fun here with highly suspenseful, playful, dark, and often deliberately melodramatic stories. Once again, I’m a fan. 

 

The Wrong Grave Kelly Link



Exuberant, clever and fun and, unlike Oates’ cold but effective suspense and horror, there’s a wonderful warmth to Link’s stories, even with those which lean to the darker side. I especially enjoyed the title story, and a novella (see the novella highlights). I’ll certainly read more Link. 

 

MYTHOLOGY

 

Two completely different takes on retelling myth here. Gaiman’s beauty is in the parred back simplicity, while Fry’s humour and erudite commentary enhances the tales. Fry has added, while Gaiman has deliberately gone the other direction. 

 

Mythos Stephen Fry


 

Myth retold by the Philhellene. Fry’s passion for the Hellenic world comes through, he even mentions in a footnote in Heroes how he was studying Ancient Greek at eight years of age. Fry supplies a commentary throughout with wry quips, along with playful and informative ways Greek myth relates to the contemporary world.  The early generational God-chronology is always a challenge, and Fry pulls it off as well as anybody, and after that the great narrative tales take hold. The footnotes are well-worth reading. 

 

Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman



Unlike Fry’s mythology, rather than additional commentary, there is little new here. And although I appreciate the criticism that Gaiman has added little to the genre, I actually feel as though it is one of Norse Mythology’s strengths. Via the use of simple rhythmic prose and maintaining a purity to the tales, I think the stories themselves are given the spotlight.  So, if you’re new to Norse mythology or want a gentle return to some great tales, this is a great place. I’ve always loved Norse mythology, and I loved this. Although not as rich or witty as Fry, Gaiman’s strength is that he allows the Norse tales to shine in their own right. 

 

NOVELLAS


Hunger Joyce Carol Oates 


(novella read in The Female of the Species, originally in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

A racy novella that will have you on your toes throughout. 

 

Magic for Beginners Kelly Link


(Read in The Wrong Grave. Originally published inThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) Wonderfully whacky and will take you back to your childhood.

 

Tau Zero Poul Anderson



Old school, compelling hard SF. 

 

ANTHOLOGIES 

(as per the norm, I’m not including works I have stories in)

 

Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford 


 

I won’t lie, a couple stories were a bit bleh, but I find this in most anthologies, so please hang in there, because this anthology is marvellous. Some of the best works I’ve read. And many I loved weren’t included on my list of favourite yearly reads when they normally would have but (but I felt an icy cut-off had to occur somewhere). Only problem is that Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar will seriously add to your reading list of writers to pursue further. I've already bought ZZ Packer, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Strout, Charles D'Ambrosio, and will be hunting down more...

 

In Sunlight or In Shadow Ed. Lawrence Block 

(An anthology inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper)



Such a beautiful idea and production. It impresses in an aesthetic sense with a coloured pic of the Hopper painting before the inspired story, and although (like in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar) a couple didn’t wow me (and that’s the subjective nature of reading) there’s still plenty to cherish here.         

 

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene



Wish these were still around, along with The Best Australian Stories.

 

EXPOSITORY

 

Ghost Empire Richard Fidler

(history)



Like many Greeks, I’m fascinated by Byzantine history, and Fidler frames this within a touching trip to Istanbul/ Constantinople with his son. Yet although Fidler repeats how advanced and civilised the Byzantines were compared to the rest of the world at the time, he ironically focusses on the uncivilised parts: on the shocks, the violence, the regicide, the intrigue, the savagery. I understand this, it helps with narrative drive and the captivation of the reader––and the work is captivating. 

 

There is also a weird mistake, which after I read it lingered around like one of those annoying bedtime mosquitoes. Fidler states that 'Sophia' is a Latin name, and although used in Rome too, the name is Greek– in fact it's iconic to the Greek world. 'Sophia' means wisdom and the Haghia Sophia means Holy Wisdom, or Church of the Holy Wisdom, and has no meaning at all in Latin. But Fidler does confess that unlike most Byzantine historians he doesn’t possess any Greek, so I’m being a bit of a pedantic prick. 


And this is here as a highlight read– Ghost Empire is a thoroughly enjoyable easy-to-read history. The father-son trip tugs poignantly at the heart strings, and the history itself fascinates. Mind you, my mother hated the gore…

 

The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures Christine Kenneally



I’m uncomfortable with the use of the word ‘race' in a contemporary sense unless it's within an historical context or finding fault with racism, both past and present. The notion of race is incredibly outdated. Afterall, you can’t have racism without a belief in ‘race’. But Keneally does contextualise and explore this topic too. I found the first part of Keneally’s work, which concentrates on the history of family trees and tracing lineage, quite tiring, but after that Keneally’s work intrigues. The many historical interludes and new scientific innovations and revelations are absorbing. The subject itself is a juggling act, especially as the dangerous notion of eugenics has returned with DNA and genetic science, and the tragedy is that some of the science gives fuel to toxic supremist groups (who manage to twist the data into their own twisted world views). But Keneally navigates this quagmire better than The Argonauts. For those interested in science and history, it’s well worth the read.                                                         


MEMOIR

 

Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies Kitty Flanagan


 

A fun humorous self-take by a charismatic comedian. Plenty of the old Australian self-deprecating humour too. I’m a Flanagan fan

 

One Hundred Years of Dirt Rick Morton


 

I wasn’t entirely convinced of the structure, but One Hundred Years of Dirt is brave and comical (facetious too at times) while covering dark issues regarding poverty, inequality, masculinity, substance abuse, and homophobia. It also straddles the line of being overly didactic, but it’s worth the read, and having binged on Vonnegut in high school I’m not frightened of a bit of well thought out moralising. Morton’s writing reminds me of another Queensland journalist I enjoy reading: Trent Dalton. It’s loud and playful and entertaining throughout. 


BEST FOR 2021


I keep personal things out of my rarely used blog, but I do hope 2021 is a better year for the world. After a flurry of pressure from medical experts, our Premier Mark McGowan changed his initial rhetoric about 'staying open' and closed the borders by locking down hard and early. He's shown wonderful strength here in Western Australia (WA) as well as a flexible mindset. I realise that not all places are capable of this type of shutdown, but some able nations have been myopic in their desire to keep the economy 'afloat' at all costs, and, ironically, all they have succeeded in doing was sink the economic ship and cause long term economic woe, not to mention the tragic loss of lives, along with the many other lives affected as an outcome.  


Wishing you all a happy, healthy, but also meaningful, 2021! 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Especially Loved Short Stories from my 2020 Reading

I read 142 short stories in 2020. This list has 26 of my favourite reads for the year––like always there are plenty of works not included that I still loved and admired. 

 ‘Orange World’ Karen Russell (Orange World originally in The New Yorker) 

 ‘Pharmacy’ Elizabeth Strout (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed.Richard Ford. Originally published in Olive Kitteredge)

 

‘The Dead Hand Loves You’ Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
 
 ‘Dark Lady’ Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress

 ‘The Deposition’ Tobias Wolff (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories

 ‘Alphinland’ Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
‘Soir Bleu’ Robert Olen Butler Block (In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper Ed. Lawrence Block)

 ‘Taking Care of Business’ Craig Ferguson (In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper Ed. Lawrence Block) 

 ‘Revenant’ Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress

 ‘Torching the Dusties’ Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress

 ‘Geese’ ZZ Packer (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in From Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

 ‘Drummond and Son’ Charles D’Ambrosio (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in The Dead Fish Musem

 ‘The Store’ Edward P. Jones (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Lost in the City

 ‘Angel of Wrath’ Joyce Carol Oates (The Female of the Species originally in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) 

 ‘The Walking-Stick Forest’ Anna Tambour (The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. Originally published in Tor.com Ed. Ellen Datlow) 

 ‘Big Green Mama Falls in Love’ Eleanor Arnason (Eidolon 1 Ed. Jonathan Strahan & Jeremy G Byrne)

 ‘The Projectionist’ Joe R. Lansdale (In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper Ed. Lawrence Block) 

 ‘Girlie Show’ Megan Abbott (In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper Ed. Lawrence Block)

 
‘Black Corfu’ Karen Russell (Orange World originally in Zoetrope

 ‘The Wrong Grave’ Kelly Link (read in The Wrong Grave. Originally published in The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural

 ‘Adam’ Kurt Vonnegut Jr (Welcome to the Monkey House. Originally published in Cosmopolitan

 ‘High Lonesome’ Joyce Carol Oates (Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in High Lonesome

‘A Prayer for Lazarus’ Andrew J. McKiernan (The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. First published in Last Year, When We Were Young Ed. Stephen Ormsby)

 ‘Kneaded’ by S.G. Larner (The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. First published in Phatazein Ed. Tehani Wessely)
’Leviathan’ Simon Brown (Eidolon 1 Ed. Jonathan Strahan & Jeremy G Byrne) 

 ‘Night Windows’ Jonathan Santlofer (In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper Ed. Lawrence Block)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Changing Tides Ed. Michelle Rosquillo & Jaynie Royal; and The Coral Reef Foundation

'Submerging', originally published in Overland Literary Journal 214, has found its fourth home in the American anthology Changing Tides Ed. Michelle Rosquillo & Jaynie Royal (the previous two anthology homes include The Best Australian Stories 2014 Ed. Amanda Lohrey, and The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss Ed. Terry Whitebeach & Gina Mercer).

The anthology, which concentrates on climate change and rising tides, offers a delectable range of genre including memoir, short stories (like my own), essays and poetry, from authors, scientists, poets and researchers.

To see more about the group of compassionate contributors, I've attached the link: https://regalhouseinitiative.org/contributors-to-the-changing-tides-anthology/

I'm all for paying the writer, but as I've already been professionally paid twice for the story, and donated the money from another publication, it was a thrill to see that all net benefits from this anthology will go towards the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), which is the world's largest non-profit marine organisation. During a climate of global warming this group has achieved real and visible outcomes; it's a world leader in terms of its coral breeding programme. CRF have a huge impact on the restoration of coral reefs, especially in Florida. While CRF is restoring health to reefs, it is also making great inroads in education too. Please take a look at their site and find out more: https://www.coralrestoration.org.



Friday, March 27, 2020

150 Fabulous Stories to Help Flatten the Curve

It's a challenging period, and in parts of the world it's more than challenging – it's tragic. My sympathies go out to all those who have suffered loss. 

During this time of isolation and social distancing, I thought I'd suggest some fabulous stories, predominantly 'long' short stories, from my last decade of reading.  I'll add two each day. Now and then, I'll attach a link for the inquisitive, whether it's the story itself, or reviews, or interviews, or read extracts. A few sites only allow limited views before subscribing, such as The New Yorker and Esquire. All stories are available in print, which is still my personally preferred format for reading fiction. 

I hope the recommended reads help out a little as we all do our best to flatten the curve. 


29/3 No. 1 & 2

'Bog Girl' by Karen Russell (Orange World & Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker).

‘The Swimmer’ by John Cheever (also originally published in The New Yorker).


30/3 No.3 & 4
Orange World’ by Karen Russell (Orange World and Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
Bullet in the Brain’ by Tobias Wolff (Originally published in The New Yorker)




31/3 No. 5 & 6
'Sea Oak' by George Saunders (Pastoralia. Originally published in The New Yorker

'The Dead Hand Loves You’ by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)




1/4 No.7 & 8 are from two of my favourite contemporary American writers: 
‘from Children’s Reminiscences of the Westward Migration’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Conjunctions) 

Jon’ by George Saunders (My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead ed. Jeffrey Eugenides and In Persuasion Nation: Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)

2/4 No. 9 & 10 are two very fine imaginative American stories. Once sci-fi and the other an urban fantasy. Steinbeck wrote some beautiful urban fantasy – well before the term was even coined for the genre.
'Rachel in Love' by Pat Murphy (I read it in The Locus Awards: Thirty Years of the Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy Ed. Charles N. Brown & Jonathan Strahan - a life changing anthology for me. Originally published in Asimov's)
&
'Johnny Bear’ by John Steinbeck (from The Long Valley. Originally published in Esquire.) Link below.


CLASSIC.ESQUIRE.COM
If you went out with a girl in the village of Loma, it was a good idea to take a dog along


3/4 No. 11& 12 are two beautiful stories from the fantasy genre: 

'Firebird' by R. Garcia y Robertson (Year's Best Fantasy 2, 2002 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer)
&
'Chanterelle' by Brian Stableford (Year's Best Fantasy, 2001 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer. Originally published in Black, Ivory Bones Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling)

4/4 No. 13 & 14 are two gems from different genres. A magical realist story from Karen Russell and an equally superb realist story from Richard Ford. 

'The New Veterans' by Karen Russell (read in Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Originally published in Granta: Winter 2013)
&
'Fireworks' by Richard Ford (read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead. Ed Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Rock Springs)



5/4 No. 15 & 16 are two more stories in the urban fantasy/magical realist vein.

'Neighbors' by Megan Lindholm (from Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois)
&
'Making a Noise in the World' by Charles De Lint (first read in Year's Best Fantasy (2001) Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer. Originally published in Warrior Fantastic Ed. Mark Greenberg.)

6/4 No. 17 & 18 Margaret Atwood's writing has become more humorous of late, and her recent collection, Stone Mattress, is no exception. And I've a love for Richard Yates short work, in fact, I've devoured all of his stories. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness is a sublime collection, as is another of his, which I'll mention tomorrow. 

'Dark Lady' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress).
&
‘Out with the Old’ by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness)
For those interested in more on Yates, read the article about him in The Atlantic.





7/4 No. 19 & 20 are again from Yates and Atwood. They're superb tales. Richard Yates' story is from his other equally amazing collection Liars in Love.

‘Alphinland’ by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
&  
“Saying Goodbye to Sally” by Richard Yates (Liars in Love)

8/4 No.21 & 22 are two dark stories exploring lifespans, which display the strength and versatility of the short story form. The protagonists are also of questionable morality. 

'Fossil Figures' by Joyce Carol Oates (this story won The  World Fantasy Award. I first read it in Stories: All New Tales Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio; it can also be found in Oates' collection The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
& 
'Troll Bridge' by Neil Gaiman (short listed for The World Fantasy Award. This was originally published in Snow White, Blood Red Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. I first read it in Neil Gaiman's collection Smoke & Mirrors)

9/4 No. 23 & 24 are from that reteller of fairy tales Angela Carter. A couple of bloody good stories from The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories:
'Puss-in Boots' by Angela Carter
&
'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter

10/4 No.25 & 26. Once again, Richard Yates surgically dissects human happiness; and with Joyce Carol Oates' story you'll never think of mannequins again in the same way!

'A Glutton for Punishment' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness)
'Madison at Guignol' by Joyce Carol Oates (read in The Female of the Species. Originally published in Kenyon Review)

11/4 No. 27 & 28 Hitting Russell and Yates again. Russell's story will give you a taste of Russell's novel Swamplandia, which was short listed for The Pulitzer Prize.  
‘Ava Wrestles the Alligator’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s HOME for Girls RAISED by WOLVES. Originally published in Zoetrope).
&

'A Private Posession' by Richard Yates (Collected Stories
The link is similar to the review I was invited to write for Meanjin's Blog on Russell's Swamplandia (now vanished into Ether-Ether Land).


ANTHONYPANEGYRES.BLOGSPOT.COM
Book Review: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011) Robin Pen, my resident book guru at Planet Books (in Perth), ensured me that Swampl...

12/4 No. 29 &30
“Fits” by Alice Munro (The Progress of Love
&
‘The Deep’ by Anthony Doerr (That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller) This won 2011 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in England (apparently the largest prize in the world for a single short story). 

13/4 No.31 & 32 Realise I've mentioned Karen Russell's stories several times here. Clearly, I'm a fan. 
‘Natasha’ by David Bezmozgis (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides, originally published in Natasha)  
&
'The Star Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Granta


14/4 No.33 & 34 are both from Rebecca Lee's collection Bobcat and Other Stories
‘Slatland’ by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories, first published in Atlantic Monthly)
&
‘Fialta’ by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories, first published in Zoetrope)

15/4 No.35 & 36Today's two stories are from wordsmiths: Angela Carter, and the ostentatious satirist, Will Self. Self, although both longlisted and shortlisted for The Booker Prize, polarises many readers. I've a love for most of his work. He'd be tossed out of most creative writing classes though – he's a major 'rule breaker'. The White Review's interview with Will Self is today's attachment for those interested in discovering more about this writing outlaw. 

'Waiting' by Will Self (The Quantity Theory of Insanity
&
'The Company of Wolves' by Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories)

16/4 No.37 & 38

'No Pain Whatsoever' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness) 
&
'Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter' by Chitra Divakaruni (Originally published in The Atlantic)

17/4 No. 39 & 40 I first read both of these stories in Jonathan Strahan's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six.

'Steam Girl' by Dylan Horrocks (Originally published in Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories)
&
'What We Found' by Geoff Ryman (Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)



18/4 No. 41& 42 Today's pair of stories are the twists-and-turns kind. You'll be glued throughout.

'My Heart is Either Broken' by Megan Abbott (Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois)
&
'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains' by Neil Gaiman (Stories Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio)

19/4 No. 43& 44 A pairing of stories leaning towards the surrealist genre. Weird, fantastical and beautiful stories. 

'Restoration' by Robert Shearman (I first read this in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six Ed. Jonathan Strahan. Originally published in Everyones Just So So Special)
&
'Almost Days' by DK Mok (I read this in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2015 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. Originally published in Insert Title Here Ed. Tehani Wessely) 

20/4 No. 45 & 46 

'Second Arabesque, Very Slowly' by Nancy Kress (Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois) 
&
'Z.Z's Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers' by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Conjunctions)

21/4 No. 47 & 48 Today's pair give a unique slant to ghost stories. 

'Haunting Olivia' by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Old Habits' by Nalo Hopkinson (Originally published in Eclipse Four Ed. Jonathan Strahan)

22/4 No. 49 & 50. Two 'long' short stories today (my favourite kind) from Australian writers. James Bradley's is an enchanting fantasy story –an exquisite retelling of Rapunzel; and Tim Winton's is a gritty realist one. Both are equally beautiful. 

'Boner McPharlin's Moll' by Tim Winton (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published in The Turning)
&
'Beauty's Sister' by James Bradley (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published as a stand alone)




23/4 No. 51 & 52. Today's pairing rhymes...

'Pulse' by Julian Barnes (Pulse)
&
'Dulse' by Alice Munro (Moons of Jupiter)

24/4 No. 53 & 54 Today's stories are from two Australian masters of fantasy with very different styles. Margo Lanagan often has a unique 'folksy' voice, and in a structural sense has more abstract and unique entry and exit points, while Angela Slatter is a jeweller in a more traditional manner, every word and scene is carefully chosen, and any extraneous matter is cut with a gem maker's precision. The result is that there is a raw beauty and originality to Lanagan's work, while Slatter's prose is aesthetically remarkable and the final product especially well-balanced and well-polished. Both produce beautiful rhythmic prose in their own right. 

'Earthly Uses' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)
&
'The Coffin-Maker's Daughter' by Angela Slatter (read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. Originally published in A Book of Horrors)


25/4 No. 55 &56. 

'Buffalo' by John Kessel (read in The Locus Awards Ed. Jonathan Strahan & Charles N. Brown. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
&
'The Lady in the House of Love' by Angela Carter (read in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Originally published in The Iowa Review)



26/4 No.57 & 58.

'Patricia, Edith, and Arnold' by Dylan Thomas (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog)
&
'Images' by Alice Munro (The Dance of the Happy Shades)

27/4 No.59 & 60 are a couple of older classics. Yates' is from 1974 & Capote's from 1945. 

'Evening on the Cote d'Azur' by Richard Yates (read in Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories. Originally published in Ploughshares)
&
'My Side of the Matter' by Truman Capote (read in A Capote Reader. Originally published in Story)

28/4 No.61 & 62 An explorative 'realist' story from James Salter; and a structurally innovative tale in which the tables are completely turned midway through the story from the imaginative mind of Michael Swanwick.

'Palm Court' by James Salter (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published in Last Night: Stories)
&
'The Bordello in Faerie' by Michael Swanwick (read in A Dog Said Bow-Wow. Originally published in Postscripts)

29/4 No.63 & 64 The love for Karen Russell's work continues. Both of these can be found in Russell's delectable collection, Vampires in The Lemon Grove, and both were originally published in Tin House. 

'Reeling for the Empire'
&
'The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach' 

30/4 No.65 & 66. Today's stories are from a contemporary writer and one that has passed away a while ago. Kelly Link's story was first published in 2007, and John Cheever's in 1954. 

'The Wrong Grave' by Kelly Link (first read in The Wrong Grave. Originally published in The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural)
&
'The Five-Forty-Eight' by John Cheever (Originally published in The New Yorker)

1/5 No.67 & 68 A pair of timeless classics

'The Hitchhiking Game' by Milan Kundera (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Laughable Loves)
&
'Too Early Springs' by Stephen Vincent Benet (The Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benet)

2/5 No.69 & 70 My two favourite Haruki Murakami stories – mind you, I haven't read all of his tales. This pair is from his collection The Elephant Vanishes. The link is to a podcast of Andrea Lee reading 'Barn Burning'. 

'The Dancing Dwarf' (first English publication in The Elephant Vanishes)

'Barn Burning' (first English publication in The New Yorker). 


3/5 No.71 & 72 And another couple from Alice Munro. Because, you know...it's Munro...Both originally published in The New Yorker. 

'The Bear Came Over the Mountain' (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides.)
&
'The Turkey Season' (first read in The Moons of Jupiter)

4/5 No.73 & 74 Today's stories are from E.L Doctorow. I first read both in his collection, All the Time in the World, and both were also originally published in The New Yorker. 

'Wakefield'
&
'Edgemont Drive




5/5 No.75 & 76 Two classics: Isaac Bashevis Singer's story was translated by Saul Bellows in 1954; and Frank O'Connor's story was first published in 1931. I read both in That Glimpse of Truth. 

'Gimpel the Fool' by Isaac Bashevis Singer
&
'Guests of the Nation' by Frank O'Connor 

6/5 No.77 & 78 A return to The Antipodes. Lisa L. Hannett's stories, in my experience, often have an ethereal atmosphere and are highly rewarding. Hannett's newly released collection is Songs for Dark Seasons; and Faith Mudge is a beautiful storyteller. 

'Forever, Miss Tapekwa County' by Lisa L. Hannett (first read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie. Originally published in Bluegrass Symphony)
&
'The Oblivion Box' by Faith Mudge (Dreaming of Djinn Ed. Liz Grzyb)


7/5 No. 79 & 80

'A House on the Plains' by E.L Doctorow (read in All the Time in the World. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'The B.A.R Man' by Richard Yates (read in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. Originally published in Esquire)

8/5 No. 81 & 82 Today's pairing are both 'wild stories'. Valente's a wonderful animalistic 'coming-of-age' story; and Peter M. Ball's mad-cap ride is a purposeful fusion of as many genres as possible.

'White Lines on a Green Field' by Catherynne M. Valente (I first read this in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six Ed. Jonathan Strahan. Originally published in Subterranean)

'Dying Young' by Peter M. Ball (Eclipse Four Ed. Jonathan Strahan) 

9/5 No. 83 & 84 Today's stories are 'entertainments', replete with twists and turns. Both tales are from George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois' anthology Rogues.

'The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives' by Lisa Tuttle
&
'How the Marquis Got his Coat Back' by Neil Gaiman



10/5 No. 85 & 86 The love affair with Richard Yates continues...Both from his collection Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. 

'Jody Rolled the Bones'
&
'The Best of Everything'

11/5 No. 87 & 88 

'Breaking the Pig' by Etgar Keret (The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories)
&
'Revenant' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)

12/5 No. 89 & 90 

'The Comptroller and the Wild Wind' by Richard Yates (Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories
&
'Hanwell in Hell' by Zadie Smith (read in Martha and Hanwell. Originally published in The New Yorker)

13/5 No. 91 & 92 Today's are both from Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Angela Carter was a rare writer whose prose aesthetic was, on occasion, more integral to her narratives than the plot.

'The Erl King' (Originally published in Bananas, but revised for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories)
&
'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' (originally published in British Vogue)



14/5 No.93 & 94 Little more from two favourites:Richard Yates & Angela Carter

'The Werewolf' by Angela Carter (Originally published in South-West Arts Review, but revised for The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories)
&
'Regards at Home' by Richard Yates (Liars in Love)


15/5 No. 95 & 96

'A Really Good Jazz Piano' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness). Trivia: this story was rejected nine times.
&
'Fever Flower' by Shirley Ann Grau (Black Prince and Other Stories)

16/5 No.97 & 98

'Torching the Dusties' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
&
'Unlighted Lamps' by Sherwood Anderson (The Triumph of the Egg)

17/5 No.99 & 100

'Bad Characters' by Jean Stafford (Bad Characters. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'The Turkey Season' by Alice Munro (The Moons of Jupiter. Originally published in The New Yorker)

18/5 No.101 & 102

'First Confession' by Frank O'Connor (The Stories of Frank O'Connor. Originally published in Lovat Dickson's Magazine)
&
'Tenth of December' by George Saunders (read in Tenth of December. Originally published in The New Yorker)


19/5 No.103 & 104. A couple more dark fantasy tales from Down Under.

'Palming the Lady' by Deborah Biancotti (Bad Power)
&
'Unnamed Children' by Joanne Anderton (Bloodines Ed. Amanda Pillar)

20/5 No.105 & 106 

'The Moon in its Flight' by Gilbert Sorrentino (read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides, from The Moon in its Flight)
&
'Escape from Spiderhead' by George Saunders (read in Tenth of December. Originally published in The New Yorker)

21/5 No.107 & 108

'Nothing Visible' by Siddharta Deb (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Heat)
&
'Flicking the Flint' by Anna Krien (The Best Australian Stories 2014 Ed. Amanda Lohrey)

22/5 No.109 & 1110 Today's are escapist spec-fic tales, both from Rogues Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois.

'Heavy Metal' by Cherie Priest
&
'The Inn of the Seven Blessings' by Matthew Hughes

23/5 No.111 & 112

'Red Rose, White Rose' by Eileen Chang (Read in My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Love is a Fallen City. Also available as a Penguin stand alone)
&
'The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless' by Sherman Alexie (War Dances)



24/5 No.113 & 114 A couple of incredibly fun escapist stories.

'The Meaning of Love' by Daniel Abraham (Rogues Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner R. Doizois)
&
'Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden' by Joe Abercrombie (Sharp Ends)

25/5 No.115 & 116

'The Cold Outside' by John Burnside (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'Two Boys' by Lorrie Moore (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Two Boys)

26/5 No. 117& 118 A couple of innovative sci-fi stories.

'Confessions of a Con Girl' by Nick Wolven (read and originally published in Asimov's Nov/Dec 2017. Audio and reprint attached from Clarkesworld). 
&
'Microcosmic Dog' by Michael Swanwick (Tales of Old Earth. Originally published in Science Fiction Age).

27/5 No. 119 & 120 

'Trespass' by Julian Barnes (Pulse. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'Min' by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories)



28/5 No.121 & 122 A couple of dark American mysteries.

'The Stars are Falling' by Joe R Lansdale (Stories Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio)
&
'Angel of Wrath' by Joyce Carol Oates (The Female of the Species. Originally published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


29/5 No.123 & 124 Finding diamonds in less prominent places. These two stories are both from The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss Ed. Terry Whitebeach & Gina Mercer

'State of the Heart' by Carol Patterson
&
'Calving' by Georgina Luck

30/5 No.125 & 126 Today's stories are both from the anthology Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work Ed. Richard Ford.

'Geese' by ZZ Packer (Originally published in From Drinking Coffee Elsewhere)
&
'High Lonesome' by Joyce Carol Oates (Originally published in High Lonesome)


31/5 No.127 & 128 Two more fantasy tales.

'My Brother Quentin' by Janeen Samuel (ASIM 44 Ed. Felicity Dowker)
&
'What the Tyger Told her' by Kage Baker (Read in Year's Best Fantasy 2 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer 2002. Originally published in Realms of Fantasy)

1/6 No. 129 & 130 Two gems from a smaller press anthology We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Ed. Michelle Cahill (Margaret River Press).

'Cinta Ku' by Mirandi Riwoe
&
Mycorrhizal Networks' by Lynette Washington

2/6 No.131 & 132

'Drummond and Son' by Charles D'Ambrosio (Read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'Black Corfu' by Karen Russell (Read in Orange World. Originally published in Zoetrope)

3/6 No.133 & 134

'The Store' by Edward P. Jones (Read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Lost in the City)
&
'Adam' by Kurt Vonnegut (Welcome to the Monkey House. Originally published in Cosmopolitan)

4/6 No. 135 & 136 

'The Country of the Blind' by HG Wells (linked to the audio version)
&
'Half Past' by Samantha Murray (read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2015 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene)


5/6 No.137 & 138

'Pharmacy' by Elizabeth Strout (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Olive Kitteredge) Link to an excerpt.
&
'The Chrysanthemums' by John Steinbeck (The Long Valley. Originally published in Harper's Magazine)





6/6 No. 139 & 140

'The Deposition' by Tobias Wolff (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'Foreign Shores' by James Salter (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Esquire)

7/6 No. 141 & 142

'The Bad Graft' by Karen Russell (from Orange World and Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)
&
'Singing My Sister Down' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)



8/6 No.143 & 144

'Breaking and Entering' by Sherman Alexie (War Dances)
&
'Live Bait' by Frank Touhy (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Live Bait and Other Stories)

9/6 No.145 & 146

'The Children Stay' by Alice Munro (The Love of a Good Woman)
&
'Summer of '38' by Colm Toibin (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in The New Yorker)

10/6 No.147 & 148. The comical with the tragic.

'Mixed Breeding' by Nicola Barker (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in the Observer)
&
'A Clinical Romance' by Richard Yates (Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories)



11/6 No.149 & 150

'Lichen' by Alice Munro (The Progress of Love)
&
'Perpetual Light' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)