My Deal Me In 2015 Roster

20141216-074025.jpg I have come up with my unofficial (subject to minor tweaking) list of short stories to read for Deal Me In 2015. The “official” announcement for the challenge will be on 12/21 (SHORTest day of the year 🙂 ) but I’m so excited about my list I thought I’d share it here now. I think I have a really good mix this year. I stuck with leaving the hearts suit as exclusive to women authors and included five of whom I haven’t read previously to mix in with some established favorites from last year (Vaz & Gay) and before. For spades – usually reserved for “darker” stories – I’ve shared that suit to include some authors and stories that have been recommended by others. As with other suits, I’ve tried to include some authors with a local connection (e.g. Bill, Sizemore, and Green). I’ve also included some stories from an intriguing anthology, “The New Black” which promise to be “suit”able members of the spades division.

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I’m perhaps most excited about the diamonds suit. These are the twelve short stories that were included in a local project, “Indy Writes Books,” for which Bibliophiloplis was a “First Edition Sponsor” (we’re listed as such in the book and, due to the vagaries of alphabetizing, at the top of the list to boot!).

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Naturally these stories have a local flavor as well.  That leaves clubs, which was my favorite suit last year when I dedicated it to Russian authors. This year, I’m bringing in more heavy hitters, with a all-star cast of authors and stories from the archives of The New Yorker magazine. Time for my digital subscription to start earning its keep! 🙂 I left deuces wild this year again and have some ideas for stories to fill those slots, but I’m also happy to be guided if anyone has any recommendations.

Deal Me In 2015 story roster

HEARTS (female authors)

A – The Journey of the Eyeball – Katherine Vaz (week 16)

2 – Wild Card – Revenant – Margaret Atwood (week 26)

3 – The Familiar – Michaela Morrissette (week 41)

4 – How – Roxane Gay (week 23)

5 – The Magic of the Loons – Paula Cappa (week 38)

6 – On the Corner of Clerk Street – Rebecca Emin (week 11)

image(This will be the third year in a row that I’ve included a story from “A Knowing Look”)

7 – The Warmth of Midwinter – Marian Allen (week 10)

8 – Fallen Idols – Andrea Smith (week 24)

9 – The Art of the Game – Diana Catt (week 44)

10 – More Than the Game – Barbara Swander Miller (week 33)

(The 8 thru 10 of hearts come from the “Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks” anthology; I met a couple of the authors at the Greenwood Library author fair a couple months back)

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J – Don’t Look Now – Daphne DuMaurier (week 15)

Q – Some Women – Alice Munro (week 5)

K – Mrs. Melville Makes a Purchase – Shirley Jackson (week 29)

SPADES (Darker and/or recommended by others)

A – The Delusional Mr. Necessary – Josh Green (week 21)

2 – Wild Card – Beyond Castle Frankenstein by Paula Cappa (week 9)

3 – The Sleeping Quartet – Jason Sizemore (week 19)

(I selected two stories from Jason Sizemore’s collection “Irredeemable”) 20141216-073909.jpg

4 – Dollhouse – Craig Wallwork (week 39)

5 – A Science for Being Alone – Daniel Alarcon (week 48)

6 – The Semplica-Girls Diaries – George Saunders (week 45)

7 – The Commissioner and the Pig – Nick Jacobs (week 28)

8 – Axis of Symmetry – Josh Green (week 36)

(Josh  Green’s “Dirtyville Rhapsodies” was recommended to me by Indy author Robert Rebein at a book event at Bookmama’s bookstore)

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9 – Yellow Warblers – Jason Sizemore (week 30)

10 – Dial Tone – Benjamin Percy (week 12)

J – The Truth and All Its Ugly – Kyle Minor (week 25)

Q – City of Clowns – Daniel Alarcon (week 34)

K – A Coon Hunter’s Noir – Frank Bill (week 14)

DIAMONDS (Stories from Indy Writes Books)

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A – Between the Lines – Ben Winters (week 40)

2 – Wild Card – Corn, Limestone, Horseweed and Writers – Dan Wakefield (essay) – (week 1)

3 – Your Book: A Novel in Stories – Cathy Day (week 32)

4 – Small Planes, Flying Low – Victoria Barrett (week 27)

5 – El Estocada – John David Anderson (week 2)

6 – A Little Knowledge – Terence Faherty (week 22)

7 – The Pharmacist from Jena – Michael Dahlie (week 43)

8 – This Bitter Pill – Frank Bill (week 31)

9 – What Once Was – Frank Bill (week 49)

10 – Finding Eudora – Amy Sorrells (week 18)

J – How to Swim – Larry Sweazy (week 51)

Q – Anna’s Wings – Angela Jackson- Brown (week 8)

K – The Journey – Mary Susan Buhner (week 20)

(CLUBS) Stories from The New Yorker magazine

A – Happy Trails – Sherman Alexie (week 50)

2 – Wild Card – These Short, Dark Days – Alice McDermott (week 35)

3 – Rough Deeds – Annie Proulx (week 3)

4 – The Women – William Trevor (week 47)

5 – A Voice in the Night – Steven Millhauser (week 42)

6 – Extreme Solitude – Jeffrey Eugenides (week 6)

7 – Monstro – Junot Diaz (week 7)

8 – Citizen Conn – Michael Chabon (week 4)

9 – Backbone – David Foster Wallace (week 13)

10 – The Science of Flight – Yiyun Lee (week 17)

J – Amundsen – Alice Munro (week 37)

Q – Indianapolis (Highway 74) – Sam Shepherd (week 46)

K – In the South – Salman Rushdie (week 52)

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(“Ye-ah, Deal Me In is definitely fun. Yea-ah.”)

Deal Me In – Week 50 Wrap Up

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This reading challenge is not a sprint but a marathon – and we’re nearing mile 26… Below are links to new DMI posts since the last update.

Dale finally got another baseball story as his six of hearts led him to Zane Grey’s “The Manager of Madden’s Hill” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/zane-grey-the-manager-of-maddens-hill/

Below: Zane Grey

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For Randall, it was the three of spades and Ray Bradbury’s story “Hopscotch” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/12/hopscotch-by-ray-bradbury.html

Katherine drew the queen of diamonds and read Edgar Allan Poe’s story “Te Facts in the Case of M. Valdermar” http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/deal-me-in-week-50-the-facts-in-the-case-of-m-valdemar/

I read a new-to-me author’s story, Carol Anshaw’s “The Last Speaker of the Language” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/the-last-speaker-of-the-language-carol-anshaw/

Two weeks to go! Our next draw will actually determine the order our next two stories :-). Look for a post from me in the next week “officially” announcing DMI 2015. Hopefully we can have as great a group of participants as we’ve had this year.

The Last Speaker of the Language – Carol Anshaw

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It’s week fifty (50!) of Deal Me In 2014 and I drew the eight of hearts, which I had assigned to the Carol Anshaw’s story “The Last Speaker of the Language,” which I own as part of the 2012 edition of The Best American Short Stories. This volume (and prior years’ editions) has contributed several of my Deal Me In reads this year.

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This is the story of Darlyn, a single mom, a lesbian, a dead-end job holder with an aging and alcoholic mom and a clandestine love affair with a Lexus-driving, married woman. That feels like enough for an entire novel (and maybe it is – I’d like to read more of Darlyn’s story) but Anshaw somehow distills it all into a short story.

Darlyn also has a (nearly) perfect daughter, Mary, who, not happy with her name, has chosen another to be called by, “Lake.” Darlyn’s strategy had been intended to give Lake/Mary “the simplest name possible” since she herself “had suffered her whole life with one that makes anyone using it sound like they’re calling over a truck-stop waitress.” That quotation is representative of the wry humor sprinkled throughout the story – an element which made the tale of Darlyn’s depressing condition at least bearable.

The story itself is somewhat episodic. At first I thought it was going to be about Darlyn’s coping with her mother’s alcoholism, but that is just one of the many helpings on her over-filled plate.

And where does the odd title of this story come into play? It’s during an intimate exchange between Darlyn and her Girlfriend, Christy:

Christy: “Here’s the saddest thing. It was on NPR. This woman just died. She was the last speaker of her language. Bo. That was the language. The sad part was when the second-to-last speaker of Bo died four years before. So for her last four years, this woman had no one in the world she could talk with.”
Darlyn: “I don’t think that’s the saddest thing. The saddest thing is me being I love with you.”
Christy: “Don’t say that.”
Darlyn: “You’re the only one I can speak Bo with.”

The concept of a “last speaker of the language” is indeed a powerful one and it’s understandable that an author would be inspired to include it in one of her works. Though not my favorite short story this year, I can see why others found it worthy of being included in the Best American Short Stories series. I found a copy of this story online at http://www.ohio.edu/nor/a/content/pdfs/anshawbaf.pdf if you’d like to read it.

Have you read anything by this author before? This was my first experience with her.

What are some of your favorite short stories that you’ve read this year? I’m looking for stories to include in my 2015 Deal Me In roster…

Below: Carol Anshaw

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Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Favorite “New to Me” Authors of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Pay them a visit, or check out everybody’s lists at the home post for this week.

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Top Ten New to me Authors in 2014:

This is one of my favorite topics of the year. One of the best benefits of participating in the book blogging community is learning of new authors from your fellow bloggers. I’m happy to say that my reading the past five years has been greatly enriched by the addition of many authors who I only learned of through my fellow book bloggers. I heartily thank you all, and today I’ll share some of my favorite new-to-me authors of the year. The following are in a rough ascending order with my favorite being number 1…

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  1. Katherine Vaz – I’ve been reading through her collection of short stories, “Fado and Other Stories” this year and have just been blown away. I’ve posted about a couple of her stories, “Undressing the Vanity Dolls” and “Fado” if you’d like to hear more about her.
  2. Ernesto Sabato – His book, “The Tunnel,” was recommended to me by a co-worker. It was great! I even recommended it for the book club at Indy Reads Books when they were looking for a ‘short’ book before reading a longer one (I think the longer one was Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” – HE didn’t make this list) and they liked it too.
  3. Ralph Ellison – One of those “I’m embarrassed that I’ve never read” books for me has always been Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Fortunately, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library book club read it for Banned Books Month in September. Very deep and often brilliant.
  4. Jess Walter – Wow. His collection of short stories “We Live in Water” blew me away a couple months ago. It looks like another local book discussion group will also be reading his novel Beautiful Ruins next year, which I’m looking forward to. Top that off with an Indy visit by this author for “Vonnegut Fest” in November, and he’s certainly become one of my favorite new-to-me authors.
  5. Ben Winters – I read a couple short stories of his, then his Edgar Award-winning novel “The Last Policeman” as preparation for a launch party for the final book in that same trilogy. Met him in person at that event and have subsequently read another great short story of his (“Between the Lines”) in the hot-off-the-presses anthology of local writers, “Indy Writes Books”
  6. Roxane Gay – Her story “North Country” has been one of my favorites from my 2014 Deal Me In short story project. I read a couple others by her since – and have one on my radar for next year – and was looking forward to a scheduled visit of hers to the local Vonnegut Library, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to health reasons.
  7. Leonid AndreevHis story “Lazarus” may be my favorite short story read of the year. I had never even heard of this author before I made “stories by Russian writers” a suit in my annual Deal Me In challenge
  8. Ken Liu – I enjoyed his sci-fi flavored story “What I Assume You Shall Assume” in the “Weird Western” anthology “Dead Man’s Hand” which I completed recently. He’s an author I definitely want to explore further. I need to write a blog post about that anthology too. It was a lot of fun. 🙂
  9. Martin Amis – I just finished reading his book, “Time’s Arrow” and hope to write a blog post about it soon. Very enjoyable fresh narrative perspective – a novel written in reverse time. Now that’s ambitious.
  10. Salman Rushdie – I’d never read him until I read the exceptional short story “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” earlier this year. Of course I knew of him because of the infamous “fatwah” from back in the day, but this is the first I’ve read of him. I received some recommendations from others for subsequent reading which I hope to follow up on..

Okay, so those are ten of my favorite “New to Me” authors in 2014. Now I want to know who YOURS are… 🙂

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Deal Me In – Week 49 Wrap Up

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The cards in our short story decks are dwindling like the remaining days of 2014. Here are links to new posts since the last update:

Randall read the Ray Bradbury classic “The Illustrated Man“; see his thoughts at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-illustrated-man-by-ray-bradbury.html

Dale waited until winter to draw the five of diamonds for Bernard Malamud’s “A Summer’s Readinghttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/bernard-malamud-a-summers-reading/

Katherine also read a classic, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/deal-me-in-week-49-an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge/

I read Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes” scroll down to my prior post to see. 🙂

That’s it for this week! Three weeks to go before it’ll be time to shuffle up and deal again…

Below: actor Rod Steiger portrayed “The Illustrated Man” on film. (Don’t EVER call them Tattoos!)

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“The Eyes” by Edith Wharton

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Week 49 of my 2015 Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge led me to a ghost story by Edith Wharton. I drew the five of spades, which I had assigned to this story. Spoilers follow, so if you’d like to read this story before reading this post, you may find it at: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2012/01/eyes.html.

At its beginning the story is very atmospheric. A group of “men of leisure” are winding down an evening, and a proposal is made that each share a “personal” ghost story with the group. They proceed until only the host, Andrew Culwin, remains as one who hasn’t yet told a story. Of course he has one (we don’t hear any details of the others’ stories so he’d better!).

Culwin claims he was twice beset by a ghost. A ghost which manifests itself as a pair of red, menacing eyes at the foot of his bed. The ghost itself was not particularly compelling to me, but Culwin’s stories of the events leading up to its appearances were. In the first case, a youthful Culwin is visiting a wealthy aunt and working on a book, when he finds an assistant in his efforts, his cousin Alice Nowell:

“The cousin was a nice girl, and I had an idea that a nice girl was just what I needed to restore my faith in human nature, and principally in myself. She was neither beautiful nor intelligent—poor Alice Nowell!—but it interested me to see any woman content to be so uninteresting, and I wanted to find out the secret of her content.”

Culwin gets swept up in a rash, youthful wave of emotion and pledges himself to this creature, almost immediately realizing his mistake. He agonizes over his situation and it is during this period that he is plagued by the eyes. Unable to think of a way to back out of his “commitment,” he flees.

Years later, in Europe, he encounters a young man who carries with him a letter of introduction from this same cousin, beseeching Culwin to help the young man in his aspirations to become a man of letters. Culwin has always felt a pang of guilt regarding his mistreatment for Alice so is happy to do so as a small way of making amends. The youth, however, while clearly clever, is also clearly without a talent for the arts. Culwin doesn’t have the heart to tell him, though, and ends up stringing him along long past reason. It is at this point the eyes make a repeat appearance.

As ghost stories go this one was not particularly chill inducing for me. I loved Wharton’s writing, though, and the character of Culwin – and the way he looked at things – was quite interesting. It also got me thinking about what story I could/would come up with if I were in a circle of friends and charged with producing a “persoanl” ghost story (I do have a couple, one of which I once blogged about). Would you be able to come up with a story? Have you ever been in a group that exchanged ghost stories like that, or is it a thing of a bygone era?

Below: Edith Wharton

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My Short Story Advent Calendar mini-project

(Note: Thanks to Randall at the Time Enough at Last blog, from whom I borrowed this idea.)

I’ve had on my kindle for a couple weeks now a short story collection titled “Gifts of the Magi.” (click here for more info)

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It contains 14 stories and one essay, a reading burden that I should be able to easily slip into in the time leading up to Christmas.  And it’s a perfect choice for another reason: proceeds from the sale of this book go to benefit “Indy Reads Books“, a local not-for-profit organization here whose goal is to “promote and improve the literacy of adults and families” in Central Indiana.

Since the number of stories is less than the 24 days on an advent calendar, I’ll delay my start until day 10 (this may also give me time to read ahead and prepare a couple blog posts for once I get started).  A few of these writers are familiar to me already.  I posted about E. Chris Garrison’s “Reality Check” about a year and a half ago, and I’ve read and enjoyed R.J. Sullivan’s “Haunting Blue”; Matthew Barron is a name known to me because of a mutual friend, but I’ve not read anything by him previously and Herika Raymer had a story in one of my favorite anthologies I’ve read this year, “Perfect Flaw“, so I won’t be treading on totally unfamiliar ground, even if “Speculative Fiction” is not a genre I read that often. I know I won’t have time to write a post about every story, but I will try to share my impressions, and perhaps write a full post or two on my favorites.

 

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(I found this particular advent calendar online here )

Here’s my schedule:

12/10 “Lumps of Coal” (essay) by Nicole Cushing

12/11 “An Outlandish Christmas” – Chantal Noordeloos

12/12 “Seasons of Renewal: A Gods’ Dream Trilogy” – Debra Holland

12/13 “The Dead of Night” – David Jobe

12/14 “Quantum of Solstice” – J.P. Bastin**

12/15 “The Warmth of Midwinter” – Marian Allen

12/16 “The Curious Case of the Cobbler’s Christmas” – Katina French

12/17 “The Longest Night” – Matthew Barron

12/18 “Freezy the Snow Demon” – Scott Sandridge

12/19 “This Thing Called Christmas” – Herika R. Raymer

12/20 “How Krampus Saved Christmas” – S.H. Roddey

12/21 “Unraveled” – A.D. Roland

12/22 “Christmas Special” – E. Chris Garrison

12/23 “An Ivory Christmas” – John F. Allen

12/24 “Blue Christmas” – R. J. Sullivan

**”Quantum of Solstice!?” I think I already have a favorite title at least. 🙂

Wish me luck!

Deal Me In – Week 48 Wrap Up

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Sorry for the delay in posting this wrap up, but below are links to new deal me in posts since last week:

Dale wrote about Robert Louis Stevenson’s story “Will O’ the Millhttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/robert-louis-stevenson-will-o-the-mill/

James drew two cards and was rewarded with two well written stories: Grace Ogot’s “Tekayo” and Christa Wolf’s “Exchanging Glances” http://jamesreadsbooks.com/2014/11/24/christa-wolf-vs-grace-ogot/

Randall read Ellen Gilchrist’s “The President of the Louisiana Live Oak Society” Read his post at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-president-of-louisiana-live-oak.html
You may also want to check out his advent calendar of stories to read for “the 24 days of Christmas” at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/11/an-advent-calendar-of-stories.html – anyone else ambitious enough to follow suit??

Katherine read her ten of clubs entry, the story “Switch” by Lucy Taylor http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/deal-me-in-week-48-switch/

Returning Reader drew the king of spades and read “Faeries of the Nile” by Mansoura Ez-Eldin: http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/short-story-41-faeries-of-the-nile-mansoura-ez-eldin/

Me? I used up a wild card on Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” – an intriguing farce. It’s at https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/the-nose-nikolai-gogol/ or you can also scroll down to my prior post. 🙂

Four stories to go. See you next week!

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