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