Short Story Mini Reviews – July 3

This is a bit of a short post, since I didn’t exactly finish my homework (yet again). I still need to read Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” and “The Things We Carried” by Tim O’Brien. I will be reading at least one of them today, because I have a paper due tonight (just in case you didn’t believe my procrastinating skills). And I will probably end up reading the other sometime this week. So expect to see those in next week’s mini reviews.

This week’s round of stories were all pretty great! I’m still working my way through Neil Gaiman’s short story collections – I did intend to read something else this week, but it didn’t happen. The last two stories were assigned stories for my fiction writing class, and they definitely peaked my interest in the O’Henry Prize stories. I rarely read short stories by authors I’m not familiar with, but I think that’s something I need to work on.

I’ll stop talking writing now. Here are the stories I read this week:

1. “Terry Pratchett: An Appreciation” by Neil Gaiman (published in The View from the Cheap Seats). ★★★★✩. I kind of love the relationship between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (I have yet to read the book they co-authored, Good Omens, but I’m hoping to soon). I did read the piece Gaiman wrote after Pratchett’s death last year, but it was fun to see their friendship from Gaiman’s eyes again. I need to read some Terry Pratchett, though.

2. “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” by Neil Gaiman (published in Smoke and Mirrors). ★★★★★. THIS. This is the kind of story I’d want to write. There were so many wildly different aspects, but they came together and created magic in a way only Neil Gaiman is capable of. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s totally worth buying the book just for this story. It’s. So. Good.

3. “Nemecia” by Kirsten Valdez Quade (published in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014). ★★★★✩. This story was all sorts of fucked up. Quade did an amazing job of creating character – even after the “villain” was redeemed, I couldn’t help but hate her. And I still feel a little bit sick on behalf of the protagonist. The story itself was kind of quietly tense. I didn’t even realize I’d been holding my breath until I finished it. It’s going to be a while before I forget this one.

4. “Good Faith” by Colleen Morrisey (published in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014). ★★★✩✩. The story itself wasn’t bad, but I didn’t care for it all that much. There are very few things that I don’t like in fiction in general, and this story had two of them: religious fanatics, and a turn-of-the-century Midwest (or Southern, I couldn’t really tell) setting. It was just a bit cringey. I did enjoy the snake handling aspect – it reminded me a lot of The Serpent King, in that it was associated with religion. And the writing was good. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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