10 Short Stories challenge – day 7

Today I read Fish Hell by Paul Silverman. The story takes place at a dinner party with not particularly likeable guests discussing not particularly interesting topics, but the story is told from the point of view of the fish, currently being cooked for the main course.

It’s such an intriguing idea. I’m a vegetarian, so I guess I would receive this story differently to a meat eater. Much of the story is quite banal (intentionally, I think), but then little gems are plopped in to surprise you and keep you interested…

Pronto to the ER, where George’s face, as he describes it, was in shreds. Next came the miracle no priest could ever perform. On hand in the hospital there just happened to be two Asian staffers who, in a previous life, stitched the finest, most delicate silk garments. “Little, little women,” George says. “Tiny hands. They sew me like kimono.”


I read Fish Hell over on Charlie Fish. Go and have a read and come back to tell me your thoughts in the comments.x

10 Short Stories challenge – day 6

Today I read Aqua-birds by Mike Russell. Aqua-birds is a brilliant little piece of flash fiction. It’s sad and thought-provoking, conjuring up rich images in the reader’s imagination.

“The aqua-birds’ thirst induces hallucinations of extraordinarily beautiful and ornate birdbaths.”

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I read Aqua-birds over on – go and have a read and then come back to tell me what you think in the comments!

Mike Russell’s stories have been described as “high minded weirdness” and I haven’t come across any authors writing in quite the same style. There’s another one of his short stories available free here. Mike is based in Brighton in the UK.

10 Short Stories challenge – day 5

Today I read Ghost Q & A by Anne Carson. This is listed as a poem but I think it can be considered a short story too. I love it whatever it is.

Ghost Q & A is exactly as it sounds, a long question and answer session between a living person and a ghost. It reminded me of John Cage’s chance writing, or the automatic writing of the Surrealists. It’s funny, sweet, a little sad and sometimes confusing (in a good way). Here’s a little extract:

Q do you see people can you see me

A if you close your eyes

Q what about moods

A the edges are freezing”

I also stumbled across this beautiful quote from Carson:

“Eros is an issue of boundaries. He exists because certain boundaries do. In the interval between reach and grasp, between glance and counterglance, between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too,’ the absent presence of desire comes alive. But the boundaries of time and glance and I love you are only aftershocks of the main, inevitable boundary that creates Eros: the boundary of flesh and self between you and me. And it is only, suddenly, at the moment when I would dissolve that boundary, I realize I never can.”
Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet (1998)
I think I may have to buy this...

I think I may have to buy this…

 I read Ghost Q & A over at This is a Public SpaceGo and have a read and come back to tell me what you think in the comments.x

10 Short Stories challenge – day 4

Today I read There’s A Man In My Dreams I Tell Lies To by Stephen Pellow. I think that’s one of the greatest titles I’ve ever read.

The story feels uncomfortably honest. Uncomfortable because it feels as though the narrator shouldn’t be telling me about his dreams, his lies or his fears. Three things that people are so strangely reluctant to share in real life. This is what makes the story so exciting though – I felt as though I was the only person to be trusted with this information.

I must admit, I prefer the first half of this little story to the latter, but it still works brilliantly and I’m glad that random Googling led me to it. Most people would probably enjoy the “twist” at the end, but I was happy before that.


I read There’s A Man In My Dreams I Tell Lies To over at – go and have a read and come back to tell me your thoughts in the comments 🙂

10 Short Stories challenge – day 3

Today I read The Eunuchs by Marcel Schwob. Schwob was clearly a lover of words. Obviously, all authors love words, but some love them in the way that a glutton loves fine food.

I loved reading this story, not so much for the story but for each sentence. It’s rich and luxurious, colourful and sensuous. “They reclined like this, sweating among the sauna boys, men dressed in scarlet plush who came around the baths with nets full of green playing balls, young people in red tunics with cherry colored belts, high tights, and long hair, and collared runners bearing the palanquins, where matrons with twisted hair and pumiced skin returned the greetings of the passersby.” – that’s one heck of a sentence!

I read The Eunuchs over on Weird Fiction Review. Go and have a read and come back to tell me what you think in the comments!

Marcel Schwob's King in the Golden Mask

Marcel Schwob’s King in the Golden Mask from which The Eunuchs is taken

Schwob wrote over one hundred short stories. He discovered the stories of Edgar Allan Poe as a child and they are said to be an influence on his work.

10 Short Stories challenge – day 2

Today I read Room 3327 by Teri Skultety. Again, I struggled at first (perhaps it just takes me a while to get into a story!), but I was rewarded for keeping with it.

The story is mostly comprised of a fictional letter written by Nikola Tesla before his death in a hotel room. I have recently seen a wonderful Dream, Think, Speak production in London which was set in a hotel and I think this enhanced my experience of reading Room 3327. The story is romantic and dreamy and manages to let you in to the workings of a troubled mind in very few words.

Teri Skultety

Teri Skultety

I read Room 3327 over on – go and have a read and come back to tell me your thoughts in the comments…

10 Short Stories challenge – day 1

I’ve set myself a challenge – to read ten short stories over the next ten days and blog about them here.


All of the stories will be strange or odd (of course!) and all will be free to read online. I’ll post a link with each post so that you can read the story too (comments would be lovely so that I don’t get lonely on the challenge).


So, the first story! Today I read Thomas Ligotti‘s The Night School.

To be honest, I nearly gave up after the first two paragraphs. I found it a bit clunky and it wasn’t holding my interest. Then (and I’m not sure when or how), I was sucked in. The school in the story is such a wonderfully scary building and I don’t know how the narrator managed to continue on his journey. One of my favourite things for a story to do is smell. That may sound weird if you don’t have the same opinion, but I find that with some books (Gormenghast springs to mind), I can smell the room, the person, the feeling. The Night School reeks!

Ligotti is easily one of the most respected horror/supernatural authors alive today, often compared to Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I must admit, this is the first Ligotti story that I’ve read and I’m looking forward to more (suggestions and links very welcome). How I’ve not stumbled across him before (although I’ve heard his name dozens of times since the release of True Detective), I really don’t know.

If you prefer to be scared via audio, have a listen to this:

David Tibet of Current 93 is a friend of Ligotti and they have collaborated on numerous tracks. The one above features Tibet reading Ligotti‘s poem I Have A Special Plan For This World, set to eerie music and startling sound effects.

I read The Night School over on Weird Fiction Review. Go and have a read and come back to tell me your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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