June Short Story Month – A Story a Day

I read, more or less, a short story every day. Not every day, but most. Somedays, if I’m not working hard on a novel or other book, and the selections are shortish, I’ll read two or three. I have been doing that all my life. Let’s see… maybe three hundred short stories a year for maybe forty years – that’s in the neighborhood of twelve thousand short stories.

Seems like a lot.

So, it looks like May has been declared short story month. I’m not sure where I read that – or what person or organization actually declared the month. Probably some random blogger. I don’t think the Official International Board for Naming Months Shit had anything to do with it.

Anyway. I missed it. But it did get me thinking. After the gears stopped creaking and the smoke cleared I decided to make June my non-official short story month. I will read a story a day, take notes, and eventually write a blog entry on it.

I will definitely stick to my schedule on reading them – though I might wait before putting it online if there is something else I want to write about that day, so be patient.

The next step is to make a list. I went out to look for:

  1. Thirty One stories by different authors. Yes, I know that June only has thirty days… but thirty one seems like a better number. So it will drag over into July. So sue me.
  2. Stories that I don’t remember reading. This isn’t a firm rule, there are a couple that I read a while back that I want to revisit… but generally new stuff. This wipes out a long list of some of my favorite authors – Ballard, Poe, Denis Johnson, Flannery O’Connor, Lovecraft, Pynchon, Russell Banks… that would otherwise have featured positions because I have read, as far as I can tell, everything they wrote. Or at least all the short stories. On the other hand, there are a few authors on here that I have never read. I’m a bit ashamed of that and see this as a good opportunity for an introduction. Which ones? I’m not telling.
  3. I’m going for breadth, not quality. This is not a list of the best short stories, but an attempt at a wide sampling, hopefully to find something unknown, a new rabbit hole to fall down. I tried to select shorter works whenever possible – time is in great demand.
  4. Finally, I wanted them all to be available free, online, in some sort of readable format. So that all of you can read along if you wish. This was the most difficult and restrictive of the requirements. I’ll include a link with each entry.

This list may change – especially if a link goes dead. Any suggestions will be gladly accepted – if this works, I may do it again.

I thought it would be difficult to fill out the list, but it was very easy. I had to trim it down. I could have gone to a hundred without much trouble.

When I write a review I am careful to only give a tiny hint of a plot – I detest spoilers. Hopefully, I can come up with something interesting to say about each story. Again, I hope that this may look interesting enough that somebody else will read at least a few of these and throw their opinions up.
I’ll start tomorrow… and here’s the current list so far:

1. – The Fall of Edward Barnard
W. Somerset Maugham

2. – Heat
Joyce Carol Oates

3. – A Study in Emerald
Neil Gaiman

Click to access emerald.pdf

4. – The School
Donald Barthelme

5. – Symbols and Signs
Vladimir Nabokov

6. – Gooseberries
Anton Chekhov

7. – Sea Oak
George Saunders

8. Thirteen Wives
Steve Millhauser

9. – “A 32-Year Old Day Tripper”
Haruki Murakami

10 – The Crawling Sky
Joe R Lansdale

Other works
(new story changes each week)

11. The Piece of String
Guy de Maupassant

12. Paladin of the Lost Hour
Harlan Ellison

13. A Father’s Story
Andre Dubus

Click to access FathersStory.pdf

14. Beyond the Door
Philip K Dick

15. Wiggle Room
David Foster Wallace

16. – The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
Ursula K LeGuin

Click to access rprnts.omelas.pdf

17. The Dark Arts
Ben Marcus

18. The Landlady
Roald Dahl
Man From the South

19. Eyes of a Blue Dog
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

20. A Telephone Call
Dorothy Parker

21. Mexican Manifesto
Roberto Bolaño

22. The Sandman
E.T.A. Hoffmann

23. Hunters in the Snow
Tobias Wolff

24 Red Nails (Conan the Barbarian)
Robert E Howard

25. The Use of Force
William Carlos Williams

26. The Secret Room
Alain Robbe-Grillet

27. From Hell’s Heart I Stab at Thee
Armando Vitalis

28. Pretty Boy
Richard Ford

29. The Garden Party
Katherine Mansfield

30. Passion
Alice Munro

31. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Kelly Link

Loving Oil and Gas

Somewhere near Fair Park… Dallas, Texas

“The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam…”
― J.G. Ballard

Loving Oil and Gas, Dallas, Texas

Loving Oil and Gas, Dallas, Texas

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
—-Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run

We sat in the car
& the night dropped
down until the
only sounds were
the crickets &
the dance of our voices

& for a moment
the world became
small enough to
roll back & forth
between us.”
― Brian Andreas, Hearing Voices – Collected Stories & Drawings

“I come to a red light, tempted to go through it, then stop once I see a billboard sign that I don’t remember seeing and I look up at it. All it says is ‘Disappear Here’ and even though it’s probably an ad for some resort, it still freaks me out a little and I step on the gas really hard and the car screeches as I leave the light.”
― Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero

“[And there was the matter of Dick Turpin. It looked like the same car, except that forever afterwards it seemed able to do 250 miles on a gallon of petrol, ran so quietly that you practically had to put your mouth over the exhaust pipe to see if the engine was firing , and issued its voice-synthesized warnings in a series of exquisite and perfectly-phrased haikus, each one original and apt…
Late frost burns the bloom
Would a fool not let the belt
Restrain the body?
…it would say. And,
The cherry blossom
Tumbles from the highest tree
One needs more petrol]”
― Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch