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Jack, July

The story of a meth addict who’s coming off a high. It’s evocative — wrought with emotion and turmoil. It sheers the face off addiction and leaves you with an understanding that some only find after pining for more.

Author: Victor Lodato
Publication: The New Yorker, September 22nd, 2014
Date Read: September 20th, 2014

Picasso

A genie offers the narrator the option of becoming Picasso or owning a Picasso. The man then contemplates the benefits of each. It’s fast read that ends how you would expect of something of this caliber. It’s very well written, but doesn’t feel much like traditional fiction. It’s more an exercise in thought processes and framing.

Author: Cesar Aira
Publication: The New Yorker, August 11th, 2014
Date Read: August 14th, 2014

Fragments of a Young Conquistador

Story about the young nephew of Cortez who is a poet rather than a fighter. He’s sent to learn how to be a man with his Uncle in the New World. He arrives after a lengthy ship ride to stand alongside his uncle as a god. Through his New World adventure he falls in love with Montezuma’s daughter and sees much of the encroaching horror attributed to the conquerors.

Author: Lincoln Michel
Publication: Day One, Kindle Edition, December 11, 2013
Date Read: December 11, 2013

A Minor Revolution

Tianeman square historical story.

Author: Michael X. Wang
Publication: Day One, November 13, 2013
Date Read: November 13, 2013

Collectors

The story of Rogelio and Henry, two men who find themselves cellmates in the Collectors, a terrible prison where each finds solace in the other. Rogelio is a country guy, who enjoys resurrecting cars and trucks to their former pristine condition. Henry is a playwright, who was sentenced for creating a play called “The Idiot President.” The two men’s friendship and indulgence in one another seem to exceed the confines of the prison walls. It’s humanity, love, and friendship etched in the molded, fading walls of the prison that confined them.

Author: Daniel Alarcon
Publication: The New Yorker, July 29, 2013
Date Read: July 28, 2013

From a Farther Room

What did I just read (see it online)? A story about a middle-age man who goes a bit crazy with the alcohol with an old friend. He wakes to find out he’s vomited a puke baby. Amid the crazy plot device, lies a great depiction of a mid-life American male, with all his regrets, responsibilities, relationships, and, of course, vomit-induced babies.

Author: David Gilbert
Publication: The New Yorker, July 22nd, 2013
Date Read: July 16, 2013

Rough Deeds

The story of Duquet who begins a lumber trade in the 1700s Americas and New France. He builds a rather impressive swath of land that has someone poaching the lumber. He catches them and comes at odds with his a new enemy, one that will lead the plot through the rest of the story.

Author: Annie Proulx
Publication: The New Yorker, June 10th, 2013
Date Read: June 20, 2013

This is How You Disappear

The story of a man, who over time, feels like he’s being overlooked. Until at the end, he completely disappears. It’s a unique story with a lot of great imagery.

Author: Dale Bailey
Publication: Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine Jan 1, 2013
Date Read: February 21st, 2013

The Furies

A dentist divorces his wife to be with his receptionist. The wife takes it poorly, to his surprise, and places a curse on him. The rest of the story is the unraveling of his relationship with his second wife.

Author: Paul Theroux
Publication: The New Yorker, February 25th, 2013
Date Read: February 19th, 2013

Close Encounters

The story is about an aging man who experienced alien visits several years prior. He claims to have been visited by a particular alien named Bob Solomon several times. Bob cleared up problems with his lumbago and other ailments using his healing light.

When we catch up with the narrator, he’s being visited by a pushy young girl from an alien encounter magazine, who’s been following up with old timers who once claimed they were visited.

The author does a fantastic job with keeping the narrator true to his identity as someone who experienced a sighting. Several things happen through the course of the story that help pull us into the reality of this person’s experience. Several times we’re left wondering if it was real at all, but in the end the biggest shock of all comes.

The characterization was excellent, especially for a sci-fi story. But, really, there wasn’t much sci-fi in the tale. It was really the human condition, curiosity, experience, perception, ambition, and grace. I enjoyed it.

Author: Andy Duncan
Publication: Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine September 1, 2012 Issue
Date Read: October 7th, 2012