December 8, 2021

Story Time

This is the usual point in the month when I post my reading recap, reviews of the generally three, occasionally more, books I read during the previous month. But in November, I was so busy writing 50,000 words that I only had time to finish one book and get through half of another long one. So I'll be discussing those books in a double-month recap in early January, and instead today I'm going to talk about reading short stories.

The one book I completed in the past month was a great story anthology, NEW SUNS: ORIGINAL SPECULATIVE FICTION BY PEOPLE OF COLOR, edited by Nisi Shawl. My review is already posted on Goodreads and highlights my favorite among the many excellent stories, with links to the ones also published online.

So much good short fiction is published online. This is a wonderful and also overwhelming thing. My computer is full of browser tabs open to stories, lists of links to stories in my notekeeping app, files in other applications containing more lists of links, and oh yeah, here are some more story tabs on my phone. I want to read all these stories, because they came recommended, or are by authors I like, or have an intriguing title and first paragraph that made me curious to read on. And while I know for sure I'll never have time for all the novels I want to read in my lifetime, it always seems within the realm of possibility that I'll get to all those saved-up stories.

Every once in a while, I'll try to establish a practice of reading a story every morning, or at bedtime, or whatever, but the habit never sticks for long. I am fortunate to have more time for reading than most people, but there is still only so much time, and though I want to read all those random stories, I also want to read from the infinite list of books. (It doesn't help that I seem to read far slower than the average person who does a lot of reading.) As a result, despite a recent renewed effort to read more stories online (specifically at several sites curating speculative fiction), I've had more success reading stories collected into books.

NEW SUNS was the second anthology I read in the past few months. The first was IT GETS EVEN BETTER: STORIES OF QUEER POSSIBILITY, edited by Isabela Oliveira and Jed Sabin, which I raved about in my September recap. I was previously somewhat hesitant about picking up anthologies, since they contain a bunch of different styles of stories by many different people I maybe haven't heard of... and now I realize that's exactly what's so great about a good anthology, and also exactly what I would get if I ever managed to read through my story lists.

During my latest burst of seeking out stories online, I noted a few I wanted to recommend. These are definitely a wide range of styles, with authors who were new to me:

"Saint Natalis of the Wolves" by Emory Noakes crosses Catholicism with animal energy.

"Proof by Induction" by José Pablo Iriarte tackles math, grief, and family. (I also enjoyed reading about their process of arriving at this story.)

"Rebuttal to Reviewers' Comments On Edits For 'Demonstration of a Novel Draconification Protocol in a Human Subject'" by Andrea Kriz has a lot of fun with its format.

"Look to the Future" by Louise Hughes is a clever exploration of a character who is unusual in not being able to see the future. (The author discusses the story here.)

I'll keep attempting to make time for more online story reading, and I'll probably be checking out more anthologies soon. I'm also looking forward to reading EVEN GREATER MISTAKES by Charlie Jane Anders, a new collection of stories, many she previously published online at links that appear on my lists somewhere but that I never got around to reading.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At Literary Hub, Hilma Wolitzer describes What It's Like to Keep Writing at 91: "Elderly now, I find that language can be elusive, and not just when I'm trying to write. Like many people my age, I seem to lose a noun or two every day lately. They're like buttons that have fallen off my shirt and rolled under the bed, and I can't bend down to retrieve them. I can no longer count on my famous short-term memory either. Recent events can seem as ephemeral as dreams."

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