I have, however, signed up for Smith’s e-mail list—the least any potential supporter can do—and have enjoyed his e-mail blasts. One recent message caught my eye: a blog post entitled “Time to Fix a Problem.”
Indeed, I’m hoping to write some original short stories this summer (and hopefully some new songs, too). I’m not sure if it’s feasible, but I’d like to have a collection of new original stories out by the time school resumes. We shall see.
The story is a short parable riffing on the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Visitors to the protagonist’s land keep telling him how terrible and crummy the place is, and instead brag about the greatness of their home.
The glowing talk of the visitors’ homeland churns away in the mind of the protagonist, until he finally decides to pay a visit. What he finds depresses and angers him: nuclear war, corruption, violence, declining birth rates, normalization of pedophilia, famine, depravity, etc.
Feeling cheated, the protagonist returns to his own home, and realizes how much he took it and its charms for granted—but there’s a twist (I recommend reading the story, which takes about three minutes, for the full impact; twist revealed below).
When I revived the blog on WordPress in late 2018, I never intended to write daily. I’d maintained a Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule on the Blogspot blog, which I shifted over to WordPress on 1 June 2018. I kept that pace up briefly, but when school resumed I left the blog dormant until late December 2018, and after three days of consecutive posting by happenstance, WordPress informed me I was on a three-day “streak.”
That caught my attention. At that point, I decided to write daily for the month of January 2019. It seemed like a fun a challenge, and I figured it would help build an audience and give me something constructive to do during the slowest month of the year.
After that, I thought, “Eh, why not go to fifty?” From there, 100 didn’t look too difficult.
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.
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.
“Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part III: “Out of the Deep” – This tale was an excessively wordy, psychological ghost story. It admirably confuses the reader with its unreliable narrator and the weird visions of its protagonist, Jimmy (who is fairly unlikable), but part of the confusion comes from the authors overwrought writing. Still, if you can wade through the dense swamp of the prose, it’s an interesting little tale.
“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 »
Today’s short story selection, Michael Noonan‘s “The Personality Cult,” comes from Terror House Magazine, an alternative online literary journal that publishes some excellent works from newer authors (although, it should be cautioned, they publish anything, including pieces that are borderline smut; browse with care). Indeed, two of my Inspector Gerard stories will appear there later this month. I’ve been reading Terror House Magazine for a couple of years now, and have been impressed with the gems they publish. “The Personality Cult” is one such precious stone.