Post-Spring Break Short Story Recommendation: “Dave’s Last Choice”

At one point or another we’ve all experienced the situation where we’ve seen or heard some new idea, word, or concept, and suddenly, we see it everywhere.  When I bought my car in 2020, I suddenly began seeing Nissan Versa Notes constantly.

Similarly, there seems to be a certain synchronicity to events.  Right as I released The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, Rachel Fulton Brown and the Dragon Common Room poets published Centrism Games.  After a week of reviewing short stories—and then contemplating writing my own collection of short stories—my buddy Jeremy Miles announced that he is working on a new short story project.  Indeed, last week’s TBT, “TBT: The Creation of Culture,” looked back at Jeremy’s excellent collection of poetry, A Year of Thursday Nights (now in a more affordable “Shades of Grey” edition).

So it was with great delight that I read not only Jeremy’s plans to compile a collection of short stories, but that he also included a draft of one of them, “Dave’s Last Choice.”

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Lazy Sunday CVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021 Recap

Well, it was fun while it lasted—another Spring Break is in the books.  I enjoyed this brief respite, the eye in the middle of the storm that is the Spring Semester.  The next couple of weeks will be a flurry of activity for yours portly, followed by the long, graceful descent into summer vacation.

Like last year, I’ll be recapping the short stories I recommended this past week, and offer up a short ranking of them.  The list will be shorter by two this year, as I dedicated last Monday to a movie review and did not reblog an earlier short story review Thursday.

Oh, well.  Here’s what I did read:

So, how do they fall this year?  You’ve probably figured it out, but it was an easy call: Michael Noonan‘s “The Personality Cult” won the day for me.  Here is my ranking:

1.) “The Personality Cult”
2.) “Black Tancrède”
3.) “Out of the Deep”

There you have it!  Happy Reading—and haunting!  Mwahahahahahaha!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part III: “Out of the Deep”

Rounding out this week’s Spring Break Short Story Recommendations is Walter de la Mare‘s 1923 psychological ghost story “Out of the Deep.”  This story is the second in Chilling Ghost Stories, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz.

“Recommendation” is perhaps a strong word for this story, which is, at times, excessively wordy and confusing—and that’s coming from me!

“Ghost story” is also, perhaps, a bit of a misnomer, though there does appear to be at least one—and possibly three—apparitions in the story, although that’s never made entirely clear.

It’s the wordiness and lack of clarity, though, that paradoxically make the story interesting.  Walter de la Mare was a poet, and brings something of poetry’s attention to the consonance of words.  At least, I’d like to think that’s what he is going for here; he clearly enjoys playing with language, almost the way a punster does.  It makes for tedious reading at times, but does have the effect of keeping the reader guessing as to what is really happening.

But I digress.  The real “ghosts” are the ones haunting the protagonist, Jimmy, a listless young man who has taken possession of his late uncle’s rambling London townhouse.  Jimmy apparently has no occupation, and lives by selling off the sumptuous possessions his aunt and uncle left behind.  Jimmy is also something of an eccentric insomniac, who finds it difficult to sleep unless bathed in candlelight (at least once in the story he sells some household items so he can purchase candles).Read More »

Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part I: “Black Tancrède”

It’s another glorious Spring Break for yours portly, which means it’s time to whip out some classic tales of ghostly spookiness.  This week I’m working my way through Chilling Ghost Stories, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz, published in March 2020.  It’s a collection that was clearly compiled for the bargain section at Barnes & Nobles, with a list price of just $10 for 471 pages of medium-sized print chills (I picked it up for $8 plus tax thanks to my handy Educator’s Discount card).  The stories were written from 1893 to 1929, with today’s selection, Henry S. Whitehead‘s “Black Tancrède,” being the latest.

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Lazy Sunday XCIV: My Favorite Things

Today is the 99th edition of Lazy Sunday; it is also my birthday.  I’m getting to that age where my birthday is still enjoyable, but also serves as a reminder that I’m on the wrong side of my thirties, slipping towards forty ever-faster.

It’s also that point in my life that I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality.  Youthfulness compensated for poor dietary choices and succulent overeating in fifteen years ago; now, I’m feeling more and more the ravages of delicious indiscretions.  I also find I don’t sleep as well (usually) as I once did, and I will ache in places that never bothered me before.

That said, I’m still fairly spry, and while my on-stage antics might not be nearly as acrobatic as they were in my twenties, I still manage to huff and puff my way around a stage—and onto coffee tables, if need be.  Anything to entertain the crowd.

With that, I thought I’d celebrate Lazy Sunday and my birthday with some of my personal favorite posts:

That’s it for this birthday Sunday.  If you’d like to celebrate with me, considering giving yourself the gift of subscribing to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Regardless, Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Lazy Sunday LXXXIV: Halloween Hijinks

Regular readers will know that love Halloween.  Indeed, I use the entire month of October as an excuse to revel in the fun of the season (instead of covering the election, the point of a blog ostensibly dedicated to commenting upon and analyzing politics).

I love it so much, I’m hosting a concert from my front porch, the “TJC Halloween Spooktacular: Front Porch Edition.”  I’ve got a couple of opening acts lined up, and then my buddies and I will take the stage for this second annual Spooktacular event.

So I thought this Sunday—the Sunday before All Hallows’ Eve—would be the perfect opportunity to look back at some spooky Halloween hijinks:

  • Halloween Week!” – This short post was one of my many paeans to Halloween.  It details South Carolina’s unfortunately hot and humid Halloweens—quite different from the crisp, autumnal Halloweens popular depictions of the holiday always portray.  I’m praying for a chill in the air this year!
  • On Ghost Stories” & “TBT: On Ghost Stories” – This post briefly discusses the importance of ghost stories, and why they’re so delightfully fun.  Victorians used to read ghost stories around Christmas, so I’m thinking we should just dedicate the last three months of the year to reading them.
  • Happy Halloween!” – THE post on Halloween!  I showed off some pictures of the pumpkin I carved (the featured image for this post).  As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going to do this year’s carvings, so I’d better wrap it up!
  • Monsters” – … right after one more post.  This little piece looked at some previews of essays about monsters and the monstrous.  I also discuss the possibility of cryptids (like Bigfoot), and why God’s Creation is so limitless and interesting, it’s entirely possible such creatures could exist.

That’s it.  Now get your costumes, grab some spooky stories and movies, and get ready for HALLOWEEN!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Phone it in Friday XVI: Week in Review (5-8 October 2020)

I’m out of town for a few days, so I’m resorting to something I rarely do:  a week in review post.  Some bloggers feature these weekly, such as my blogger buddy Mogadishu Matt.  I sort of did one back with “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap,” but that was more a review of a week-long series of posts, not a review, per se, of the week itself.

Ah, well.  That’s just nit-picking.  Here’s what I wrote about this past week:

That’s it for this edition of Phone it in Friday.  Here’s hoping I wrote some material good enough that you don’t mind reading it (and reading about it) again.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

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TBT: Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap

It’s getting into that spooky time of year, so for this week’s TBT I decided to look back at “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap.”  I spent most of my Spring Break this year reading horror short stories, writing reviews about and recommendations for some of the better stories I read.

I won’t do much more editorializing than that, as the original post is quite lengthy and detailed.  I will add that love short stories, and find the form chillingly effective for horror.  The brevity and concision of the form encourages horror writers to deliver chills and terror straightaway, and allows for frights to be the focus.

With that, here is “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap“:

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TBT: On Ghost Stories

Today marks the first day of October, perhaps my favorite month of the year.  We’re already getting that first crisp coolness in the air here in South Carolina, and it’s feeling more and more like autumn every day.

So with Halloween just thirty days away, I thought it would be fun to look back at a post from last “All Hallowe’s Eve Eve,” as I wrote at the time:  one all about ghost stories.

I finally finished slogging my way through The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories, thanks in no small part to quarantine.  It’s an excellent collection, and I stand by my recommendation from last October, but there are a handful of stories that are way too long—or dense.

I’m now reading through a more accessible, far lighter read:  the classic Tar Heel Ghosts by John Harden.  It’s a collection of North Carolina-based ghost stories published in the 1950s, so it has that pleasing sense of implicit patriotism and love of place that is now so sadly missing from our cynical, cosmopolitan writing of today.  Like The Story of Yankee Whaling, it possesses a refreshing innocence about and love for its subject:  no hand-wringing over now-unfashionable ideas, no condemnation of a lack of diversity, no talk of “marginalized” groups being “unrepresented.”

I picked up the book sometime in my childhood on a family trip, but I don’t think I ever finished the collection.  I’m rectifying that all these years later, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I also plan to reread Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, one of my favorites to pull out this time of year.

Here’s hoping you find some spooky tales of your own to curl up with on these cold, October nights.  Here’s October 2019’s “On Ghost Stories“:

It’s Halloween!  Well, at least it’s All Hallow’s Eve Eve, but that’s close enough for some ghoulishly delicious ghost stories.

I love a good ghost story.  The Victorians did the genre best, but many writers since have honed it further, adding their own unique twists and scares.  Even Russell Kirk, the great conservative philosopher, was a fan of ghost stories.  Indeed, his bestselling book was a ghost story.

For the Victorians, ghost stories were told at Christmastime.  This timing, while peculiar to modern readers, makes sense intuitively—Christmas is a time for remembering the past, in part (perhaps especially) our honored dead (just ask Washington Irvingif he comes by to haunt you).  The “ghosts” of departed loved ones linger closely during those long, frosty nights.  The inherent nostalgia of Christmas and the winter season—and bundling up next to a crackling fire—sets the perfect mood for ghostly tales.

Nevertheless, what other time of year can beat Halloween for a good tale of witches and werewolves; of monsters and mummies; of ghouls, goblins, and ghosts?

As such, I’d encourage readers to check out “Nocturne of All Hallow’s Eve,” a deliciously frightening, blood-soaked tale of the supernatural and the macabre from Irish-American author Greg Patrick.  Alternative fiction website Terror House Magazine posted it back in September, and I’ve been saving it to share on the blog until now.

Patrick’s style conjures the dense verbiage of Edgar Allan Poe.  Indeed, he overdoes it a bit (see his more recently published “The Familiar“).  But his subject matter is pure Halloween—the tenuous space between the natural and the supernatural, the mysterious rituals, and on and on.

If you’re still in search of some ghostly reads, check out The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories.  It’s the collection I’ve been reading since my trip to New Jersey this summer.  It’s a truly spine-tingling collection that covers some of the great—and many of the undeservedly unsung—writers of the genre, the men and women who truly created and molded what makes a good ghost story.

So wherever you find yourself the next couple of nights, curl up with a good book, a warm fire, and a good ghost story (and maybe someone else, if you’re so inclined).  You and the ghosts will be glad you did!

Ghost

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