Firstly, Andy Weir (he of The Martian fame) has written a fundamental, universal truth in this short, short story of his. It goes like this:Heh heh.
Firstly, Andy Weir (he of The Martian fame) has written a fundamental, universal truth in this short, short story of his. It goes like this: "Tip for all you guys out there: If a woman is asleep, let her sleep."
Secondly, it made me giggle (and I felt a certain kinship to the main character Annie).
So this is how this one begins -- and let me tell you, the opening passage gave me the shivers, the little hairs on the back of my neck stood to atten So this is how this one begins -- and let me tell you, the opening passage gave me the shivers, the little hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention. If Ms. Megan Abbott should ever wish to venture into horror, I have no doubt she could make that genre her bitch. Read this:
At night, the sounds from the canyon shifted and changed. The bungalow seemed to lift itself with every echo and the walls were breathing. Panting. Just after two, she'd wake, her eyes stinging, as if someone had waved a flashlight across them. And then she'd hear the noise. Every night. The tapping noise, like a small animal trapped behind the wall.
Eeeek! Like seriously, if that doesn't creep you out check your pulse because you might be dead.
So this gripping short story isn't Megan Abbott doing horror, but nevertheless does this lady have a flair for the dark and ... unhinged. She loves to troll the deep end of those viscous psychological waters, where things with teeth swim, and bite. On the surface this story is a period piece -- circa 1950's Hollywood. Abbott is comfortable here in her noir sandbox.
The Little Men features Penny, an aging actress who has given up the fight and has decided to move on and do something else with her life. A fresh start if you will. She thinks she finds it in a new place to live, a place that will be all hers that she won't have to share with anyone. Her landlady seems kind and generous (at first), her neighbors friendly and warm. But there's something not right about this new low-rent bungalow, filled as it is with a dead man's things.
As Penny begins to uncover more and more about the life of the man who lived in the bungalow before her, she also begins to see and hear things. Disturbing things. What's real and what isn't? Is Penny losing her mind or is there something more sinister afoot?
Reading this I could not help be reminded of the classic short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Both women in these stories are coming unhinged, but there's a gravity and justification to their decline that lends empathy to their plight. Both women are trapped in their lives with few to no options, and are suffocating from the stranglehold their current realities have put them in.
In Penny's case, 1950's Hollywood is a cruel and capricious mistress. Women are (ab)used until they are no longer wanted: "You were a luscious piece of candy, he said, but now I gotta spit you out." In the land of casting couches, you sleep with the devil and wake up in Hell.
This is a gripping read with layers and subtext and all the more remarkable for its short length. This is Megan Abbott at her most teasing and it is excruciatingly delicious. This woman will always leave you wanting more, always more.
A free advanced copy was provided through NetGalley....more
Short, pulpy fun. Effective, evocative writing, very vivid and visual. And a twist ending (which I'm not sure I totally understood LOL, but enjoyed neShort, pulpy fun. Effective, evocative writing, very vivid and visual. And a twist ending (which I'm not sure I totally understood LOL, but enjoyed nevertheless). Still, this little diddy is a definite recommended read that's available for FREE from your preferred book retailer. This flavourful free taste has only whetted my appetite for more Xane.
Ah shizzle. I'm going to be the party pooper on this one. It was okay. Love the premise but it just didn't bite me, at least not in any place where I like to be bitten.
Creepy undertones, exotic setting, with a familiar Twilight Zone / Night Gallery vibe. Should be all good things but it ultimately just doesn't deliver on the goods in a memorable way.
Since this one fizzled for me, I want to take the time to put a plug in for Tor shorts. They're offering some amazing, inventive prose for FREE, and the accompanying artwork for each story is sublime. I keep meaning to read more of these. Bookmark this page!
I am familiar with Richard Chizmar because A) I *love* Cemetery Dance Publications (which he founded) and B) Chizmar has launched a massive King re-read and you can follow his progress (not to mention fabulous guest posts) here at his blog Stephen King Revisited.
So in my Twitter feed this evening was a link to this short story. Who can resist a short story called "The Box"? Every time I see that title I give a little shudder and give in to a lot curiosity, because WHO DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!
I'll ALWAYS need to know what's in the mothereffing box. Yeah, curiosity. She's a real bitch.
So this story? It's gooooood. Pulpy good and creepy (if a little derivative and predictable). Still, at 15 pages, definitely worth a read. Go check it out now! Don't you want to know what's in the box too??? ...more
Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been longer. But brief King is rare King so I'm just gonna shut up and enjoy this little piece for what it is.
So what is it?
It's a moody little Western gem that sucks you in from its opening scene: a sheriff and a posse come to "collect" Jim Trusdale -- for lack of better phrasing, the village idiot (Constant Readers will also be reminded of John Coffey from The Green Mile). Jim has misplaced his beloved well-worn hat. Unfortunately for him it's been recovered near the dead body of a 10 year old girl who has also been robbed of her birthday silver dollar.
None of this looks good for simple Jim. In fact, it all adds up to a heaping mound of terrible. As one man observes: "You got bad luck all over...You’re painted in it."
Like King's best short stories, you won't be able to put this one down until you finish it. In just a few short pages he's able to create a remarkable amount of tension between the weary Sheriff who begins to have doubts about Jim's guilt, and the accused who has no meaningful way to defend himself against this horrible crime. The men share a potent intimacy in the closed confines of the holding cell (and a strip search scene that is brief but memorable).
And about that ending:
(view spoiler)[First of all, didn't see it coming. Maybe because I had John Coffey on the brain, I really thought this story was another version of "the innocent simpleton" being taken advantage of. So yes, silver dollar in the poop really surprised me O.O ....turns out Jim was guilty after all (unless someone planted that silver dollar afterwards; maybe?) (hide spoiler)]
First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of what we can only hope will become part of a much larger series that Courtney Summers will -- she better! -- continue to write.
My ebook edition displayed as 65 pages and I didn't even get that many since those 65 pages also included a sample of Summer's new novel All the Rage (which has no zombies, but I still want to read anyway because Summers is a great writer no matter what story she's telling).
So Please Remain Calm is a short, sweet taste of something terrifying and grueling. I remember This Is Not a Test as an epic, emotional The Breakfast Club meets Dawn of The Dead -- a bunch of high school archetypes, including the jock, the brain and the basket case -- are trapped in a high school with each other while outside the world is being ripped apart at the seams by flesh-hungry reanimates. Our narrator, Sloane, is the basket case. She was on the verge of suicide before the zombies came and now has to run for her life rather than commit to taking it. I remember Sloane as strong and sad and sympathetic.
Please Remain Calm is not her story -- this time it's Rhys who's speaking (the jock) and I barely remembered anything about him other than he is the one Sloane escapes with at the end of the first book. And that's exactly where this short story picks up. No time has passed at all. The two teenagers are on the run from the high school. To where, to what, we don't know because they don't know. They are moving panicked, blind. And then they get separated.
This is much more your traditional zombie story of unrelenting fear, fatigue, hunger, trying to find a safe place to close your eyes for more than ten minutes. I *loved* it. It's pulse-pounding and page-turning with great writing and for so few pages, great characterization. Summers can write a zombie chase/attack scene like nobody's business. Her zombies are fucking terrifying and I don't even care that they move fast. Usually that would bug me. But Summers makes it work. Boy does she ever.
Don't let the YA label fool you with this one; it's raw and violent and dark. It's going to take a bite out of you and leave you shaken and stirred. That I guarantee. Merle knows what I'm talking about, don't you Merle?