writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: short story (Page 3 of 18)

“Stemming the Tide” by Simon Strantzas

A misanthropic man and his partner go to the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy to watch the tide, and other horrors, rush in.

This story has echoes of “Ringing the Changes” by Robert Aickman, but the protagonists appear at the end rather than the beginning of their relationship. It does a good job of building up the dread.

“The Next Glade” by Robert Aickman

A woman meets a strange man at a friend’s party who invites himself for a hike in the woods near her home; later on a family outing in the same woods she finds a mysterious cottage where the strange man is working in the garden; after her husband’s death after a mysterious illness she associates with the cottage, she meets the man again.

This is a weird and disorienting story even by Aickman’s standards. Even the mysterious man’s name is slippery, with no one ever quite agreeing what it is, and whether he actually exists at all. The characters are all more than a little strange, not least Noella’s husband Melvin in his Wild West outfits with some sort of Bowie knife. Most Aickman stories are somewhat baffling but atmospheric; this one is mostly baffling.

“The Sailor-Boy’s Tale” by Isak Dinesen

A young sailor sneaks ashore and has several life-threatening adventures; he is saved in the end due to an act of kindness he performed on an earlier journey.

This has a fairy tale quality, with broadly-sketched characters and a thread of mystery and magic running through the story. The “twist” is hardly novel, but it is well-delivered, and hints at a sort of playful but also callous magical realm.

“The Boy Upstairs” by Joshua Ferris

A woman at the periphery of a putative tragedy finds her life unraveling as she ponders whether she would bargain away her happiness for the sake of another person.

As New Yorker stories go, this wasn’t bad. It started off with the usual solipsistic interiority and wry references to contemporary life, but at its heart it poses an interesting question without bringing it to a clear conclusion.

“The Cicerones” by Robert Aickman

A British traveler has an unusual tour of a Belgian cathedral.

This is a quietly unsettling Aickman story, with the weirdness building gradually with each morbid piece of artwork in the cathedral until a quite frightening conclusion. The ends are pulled together, but they are never tied off; the conclusion is ambiguous and all the more frightening for it.

“The Reaper’s Image” by Stephen King

An antique mirror displays an image of the Grim Reaper to some who gaze into it, causing them to disappear without a trace.

This is an enjoyable weird tale that bridges the pups and M.R. James in tone and theme; not particularly boundary-pushing, but the banter between the characters is enjoyable and the cursed object is sufficiently creepy. I’m sure I read this when “Skeleton Crew” came out in paperback – I devoured Stephen King’s books all through high school – but I don’t remember it. I may have to peruse some more stories in this collection that have slipped my memory.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2022 Michael Hartford

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑