Monday, March 13, 2023

Reader's Diary #2078 - Paul v Walters: Heartbreak

Sometimes I'll read a short story that leaves me wanting more and often it's because those stories felt incomplete. That's not the case with Paul v Walters' "Heartbreak" which works thoroughly as a story about a reunion of a somewhat toxic relationship.

But that relationship seems so compelling, the characters hint at just enough depth, that I'd read a whole novel about them.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Reader's Diary #2077 - Alan Grayce: A Delivery of Cheesesteaks

"A Delivery of Cheesesteaks" by Alan Grayce is one of those sci-fi stories where I think the story would have been better served without the sci-fi elements. 

About a homeless veteran who becomes a hero, the sci-fi elements felt tacked on to me, like an afterthought to ensure publication. The homeless guy was great though!

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Reader's Diary #2076 - Charles Johnson: All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End

Probably a whole slew of reasons why Charles Johnson's cartoons escaped my radar until now, but I'm grateful they finally did. 

There are political cartoons and there are satirical political cartoons, the latter, if done right, are also funny. Johnson's cartoons are funny. Broken up into specific collection, Johnson offers short introductions to each and in one of these he considers whether or not a cartoon can considered a visual poem. He concludes, "Like the best haiku, where a thought or feeling is perfectly expressed in just a few lines and is instantly understood, a well-done cartoon can often lead to an epiphany or 'Aha!' moment of laughter and sudden insight into a subject." Indeed, Johnson's cartoons are visual poems.

They are a product of their time, of course, and most come from the 60's and 70's. The style reflects that (which I loved) and there are many, many references to politics at the time (Black Panthers feature heavily). Yet, for better or worse, many of the themes and insights still resonate today.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Reader's Diary #2075 - Anthony Varallo: Dispatches from a Housesitter

When a short story, such as Anthony Varallo's "Dispatches from a Housesitter" ends abruptly, especially if I've been enjoying it up to that point, I find myself wondering if missed something or if the author had an intent in mind.

The description and voice in this story are superb. As for the point? I'm wondering if I'm supposed to see a parallel between the narrator and the dog he's taking care of...

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Reader's Diary #2074 - Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow

Usually when I struggle through an exceptionally long book, I wind up with Stockholm Syndrome. I confuse the elation of finally finishing it with having enjoyed it after all. This was not the case with Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

I still barely have a sweet clue as to what I just read. The style, point of view, perspective was all over the map. It felt self-indulgent, with Pynchon trying to prove how shocking and/or witty he could be. It was dull, it was confusing, it was awful.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Reader's Diary #2073 - Mary Elizabeth Burroughs: Waste

To me, there are two types of sci-fi: sci-fi lite and hardcore sci-fi. The latter I find to be less accessible for occasional sci-fi readers and characterized by a lot of world-building including fictional jargon. Mary Elizabeth Burrough's "Waste" I found to be hardcore sci-fi.

As such it took me a little while to get into it, but eventually I was able to appreciate the story and the social commentary about classes; in this dystopian world the lowest class being short-lived, deformed humans who literally live at a dump.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Reader's Diary #2072: Joe Sweeney: How I Met Your Father

Like the TV show that inspired the title, Joe Sweeney's "How I Met Your Father" has a frame story in which a parent is retelling how she met their children's father. 

When I've tried my hand at writing short stories, I wrestled with how much description to include. How much detail do you need to set a scene and should it have any other significance (help set the mood, for instance). I find this story to be a bit too descriptive; a lot that not only felt irrelevant but also distracting and implausible that a person would remember such trivial details while reminiscing. 

Still, it was a light and entertaining piece.