All Stories, Editor Picks, Short Fiction

Week 352- Ch-Ch-Changes

Welcome to Year 8, L.S.E.!

I’ve never understood greeting a new year with changing your ways in mind. If you are doing something that needs to be departed from, why wait until the Earth is at a specific, artificially labeled point in its orbit to quit smoking crack or stealing purses? And if there’s some grand task you want to undertake, don’t wait for Nike to give you permission or inspiration. They don’t give a damn about you unless you buy their shoes. Stuff will always get in the way; Be Persistent and as Inevitable as Death may not be the cheeriest slogan, but I’m not trying to sell you something, either..

Yet there are times when even a lame concept makes a convincing argument. And, yes, there are even times when perhaps evacuating the contents of my mind every other Saturday fails to show keen respect for the tales presented during the week. But most often I usually disregard the negative thoughts I have for my activities and do something different because I consider it a Big Idea.

My latest Big Idea involves taking a deeper look than usual at the stories and the writers who created them this week. That does not mean that this post will fail to end the usual way–with some sort of list, but it will be more about the middle.

Naturally, the staggering work of genius that opened this week was created by me. The Raccoon and the Fitness Trainer entered my mind, a few months back, when I saw a little Raccoon, who was loitering around the dumpster next to my apartment complex, take the twist top off a discarded bottle of Mountain Dew and drink the contents. I live by the water atop a bank and there are Raccoons everywhere. They usually travel in packs of four to six and are not impressed by people at all.

Thomas Sanfilip made his site debut on Tuesday, with Paper Flowers. This story packs an emotional punch because it is delivered in an analytical manner. Like an actuary saying a prayer. Of the many large details to explore, Thomas selected the best of the little ones; for it is the minutiae that accrues that best defines us–not the few big ticket items that occur. Some of us die more alone than others. The eloquent, restrained voice in this story breathes energy into something that would be a dreary dirge if needlessly touched by sentimentality.

Further ironic eloquence appeared Wednesday, when Canada’s Mary J. Breen made her sixth LS appearance with The Bride of Christ. Mary never raises her voice once, nor does she disparage her object with insults. She tells the truth and thus the piece resonates with rare power. All Mary’s work is first rate and I encourage all to have a look through her site canon.

Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States and on the site we marked it with a harrowing bus ride with Suzanne by Scottish Highlands’ writer, Avery Mathers. This is Avery’s first story with us, and it is a remarkably paced piece that gets a great deal of information across without it coming off rushed. And you got to love something that references Leonard Cohen.

Our own beloved Hugh Cron capped off the week. A Black Friday, indeed. Affinity brings our esteemed colleague’s total to 107 (I think), with more to come–which is second only to the great Tom Sheehan. Hugh seldom receives the Saturday praise he deserves because until this year he had taken over the wrap writing and is not the sort of person to tout his own virtues.

Although there is almost always a gleeful darkness in all the losers and boozers and whores and users present in Hugh’s work, he treats them fairly. I cannot think of a better truth teller than Hugh, and, as expected, his almost pathological honest streak sometimes rubs gentler souls the wrong way. But I want to make it clear that there is not a gentler and fairer fellow in the world. No one works harder to help a writer get over. He doesn’t have to do that. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But I defy you to find another site that has a more caring person.

Also, while I am here, let’s hear it for Diane’s constant and often overlooked excellence in selecting images for the stories. She has helped me greatly in that department, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I send her my gratitude.

Anyway, we have come to the end of the intelligent stuff. I leave you now with my top nine out of ten favorite short stories of the past (I humbly exclude LS pieces, which I will make a list of in the future.) Audience participation is encouraged.

  • The Lottery–Shirley Jackson
  • The Star–Arthur C. Clarke
  • A Good Man is Hard To Find–Flannery O’Connor
  • Big Blonde–Dorothy Parker
  • Gray Matter–Stephen King
  • The Great God Pan-Arthur Machen
  • I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream–Harlan Ellison
  • A Scandal In Bohemia-Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Harrison Bergeron-Kurt Vonnegut


12 thoughts on “Week 352- Ch-Ch-Changes”

  1. Excellent roundup of the week’s story. I would add to the list A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Hemingway and The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe. I Have No Mouth … is a scifi horror classic. Glad you apparently think so, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David

      I love the golden era of Science Fiction. If I didn’t consider The Big Front Yard by Simak or Nightfall by Asimov short novels they would have made the list. As far as Harlan goes, Mouth just edged out Ticktock Man.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post again Leila and thank you for the thank you and I echo your comments about lovely Hugh.

    One of my favourite shorts is one that I may have mentioned somewhere before. It is something that I read when I was very young and my dad gave me an anthology of shorts to read. It was The Truth about Pyecraft by HG Wells and though I have read millions of words and thousands of shorts since then the imagery in that has stayed with me. I have read a few of Stephen Kings shorts and one that I remember enjoying very much was in his anthology of novellas Four Past Midnight and it is The Langoliers. I see it is also a movie but I think I’ll stick with my own images of that especially the finale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diane.

      I like Wells. I read all his books when I was young and was impressed by him. I also like the movie in which Malcolm McDowell played Wells in a fantasy in which David Warner was Jack the Ripper.



  3. I rarely read good books, but many years ago I was impressed by “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Greek guy (Konstanzakis? to lazy to research). Good crime writers – Raymond Chandler, P.D. James, Patricia Highsmith, Ross MacDonald, Dash Hammett, Jim Thompson.

    As a former actuary who hasn’t prayed for sixty or so years, I wonder how an actuary prays.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can only echo the “great post” sentiment and add my own voice to the chorus of appreciation for Hugh (and the wonderful Mrs D of course). In addition to all the encouragement and advice Hugh has given me over the years around writing he also regularly writes long emails to me and has been an enormous support during some dark times. He’s an absolute gem of a human being. Well done to all featured this week – some brilliant writing as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Leila,
    Excellent as always.
    I need to thank you, Nik and Diane for such lovely comments, not many say those type of things. I’m more used to the likes of ‘Fuck off and die’, ‘I hate you’ and ‘I’m buying you a polo neck for your birthday.’
    As I’ve said before, my gran was a vicious drunk. And she was the nice one!!!
    This has taken me an age to write. When I first saw your list I knew exactly the stories that I wanted to mention but they went completely out my head and I had a bitch of a time finding them.
    But I did.
    So the best shorts (Or should I say, entertaining to me??) that I’ve read have to be ‘Enoch’ by Robert Bloch – Don’t get me wrong when you read it, it’s a transference type story but I think I have a regard for it because it was the first of this type that I’d read. I think I was around thirteen.
    The other shorts are in a collection by Mark Frankland (His book The Cull is a belter – I wonder if James McEwan has come across that??) The book is called ‘Roads To Down’ and is all about addiction – Mainly the start of addiction if I remember right. I’m sure I read an article where Mr Frankland was trying to get this book into all secondary schools reading list, but I don’t think it was accepted – That’s a pity!!
    Thanks again!!!


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