Deal Me In  2015 – Week 21 Wrap Up

Hope everyone (at least those here in the states) had a nice long holiday weekend! I actually got a lot of reading done for once. 🙂 Below are links to new Deal Me In posts since our last update.

“o” at Behold the Stars read Emile Zola’s “Rentafoil” http://beholdthestars.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/rentafoil-by-emile-zola.html

Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery covers Reginald Hill’s “True Thomas,” which doesn’t turn out to be a mystery at all: http://bitterteaandmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/true-thomas-by-reginald-hill.html

Jen at Military History is back and shares two stories, Katey Schultz’/ “Permanent Wave” https://wisepursuits.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/deal-me-in-2015-week-12-permanent-wave/ and Thomas Dobozy’s “Days of Orphans and Strangers” https://wisepursuits.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/deal-me-in-2015-week-13-days-of-orphans-and-strangers/

For Dale at Mirror With Clouds, his Ace of Diamonds led him to Saul Bellow’s “A Silver Dish” https://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/saul-bellow-a-silver-dish/

Katherine at The Writerly Reader posted about Michael Chrichton’s story “Blood Doesn’t Come Out”  https://katenread.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/deal-me-in-week-21-blood-doesnt-come-out/

Randall at Time Enough at Last drew the five of hearts,which he had assigned to “Disneyland” by Barbara Gowdy http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2015/05/deal-me-in-week-21-disneyland-by.html

Jay at Bibliophilopolis (that’s me!) read Josh Green’s “The Delusional Mr. Necessary” (just scroll down to my prior post to read about that one) 🙂

That’s it for now. See you next week and – happy reading!

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“The Delusional Mr. Necessary” by Josh Green

Week 21 of Deal Me In 2015  brought me the Ace of Spades, and with it a story from Josh Green’s collection, Dirtyville Rhapsodies. The story is “The Delusional Mr. Necessary,” and is one of two stories from that collection on my roster of stories, the other being his “Axis of Symmetry.”

I have an ongoing effort to try to do a better job of keeping track of where I first hear about the stories or authors I read, and for this one I can happily say I actually know its exact “provenance.” 🙂 Back in 2013, I went to an author event at the local Bookmama’s Bookstore featuring local author Robert Rebein, who is also a creative writing professor at a local university. I asked him if any of his students had subsequently distinguished themselves in the literary world, and Josh Green was the first name he mentioned. I made a note of it and later, when my trusted Indy book blogging colleague Melissa (at Avid Reader’s Musings) posted a positive review of it, that sealed the deal and I downloaded a copy.

The story quickly staked its claim as one of my favorites of the year thus far. The Mr. Necessary of the title is Bob Necessary, a self deluded patron of a public gym. His life is, in reality, going nowhere fast. His one marketable skill is repairing video game machines. The kind of machines that “no one plays any more” though.  He lives with his mom and has probably an unnatural attachment to her. He suffers from delusions of grandeur of the highest comical order. We learn that he is also delinquent on his membership fees at the gym.

His first person narrative of the story takes place over just one night – his final visit to the gym – at least until he makes good on his overdue bill. (“If I want to come back, do I have to pay for all the months at once?”) When exiting the gym he even assumes the gym employee stationed at the front desk – who tries to be kind to him while enforcing the gym’s collection policy – is “interested” in him. She tells him “You’re so full of the wrong ideas.”  while ‘flipping her eyelashes in a final rejection.’ Bob rationalizes his expulsion from the gym saying that his mother needs lots of looking after (which made me wonder if there really was a mother – at least of a non-Norman Bates’s mom variety).

Mr. Necessary’s descriptions of the gym and it residents and politics early on in the story won me over immediately.

Spandex on me would be too boastful. On any other man downright flagrant. I prefer gray sweatsuits with high-powered elastic at the ankles. So tastefully accentuating, so perfect for jumping jacks. Nothing says watch-me-perspire like the wetted Rorschach blots that seep out the back of gray sweats.”

Observing another man in the gym (a man who he secretly calls ‘Hercules’) he says:

Hercules is wrapping up. He tufts back his locks and takes a slow cool gander at the Elliptical girls. He is sniffing my turf. In my younger days, this guy might’ve been in for a grapple, or I might’ve just kicked him in the plums. But now I take the suave approach, the high ground traveled by us more established and gentlemanly beefcakes. I let Hercules wonder and want and then drown in his own soppy bashfulness. He’s too shy to make the approach. Like the rest of us, I bet he’s hatched a thousand hypotheses about courting gym women but has acted on none. Nobody talks in these places. They just peek. They keep eyes on the fanning deltoids of the ship-shape crowd around them but never mouth a word.”

The delusional Mr. Necessary’s delusions extend to his family as well, remembering that his mother, referring to him, notes that “late bloomers bloom best,” and of his father that “Dad was a winner. And smart beyond his janitorial duties.”

I myself have spent some hours in gyms over the years (well, mostly 20 years or so ago) and a lot of the author’s characterizations rang true to me. I also admit that I’ve known some (admittedly less pathologically) delusional people in my travels. The gap between self-image and what the world at large really thinks of you can often be quite large (see the TV show “Survivor” for instance). I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the others in this collection.

What about you? Have you encountered many “Delusional Mr. Necessarys” in your life? In literature? The delusional do make for some interesting “unreliable narration” I must say. 🙂

Learn more about this author at his website http://joshrgreen.com .

Deal Me In 2015 – Week 20 Wrap Up

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Below are links to new posts since our last update:

Randall at Time Enough at Last read Amy Hempel’s “Today Will be a Quiet Day” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2015/05/deal-me-in-week-20-today-will-be-quiet.html

Katherine at The Writerly Reader had her first DNF of the year. Read what she thought about Rick Moody’s “The Albertine Notes” at https://katenread.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/deal-me-in-week-20-the-albertine-notes/

Dale at Mirror With Clouds read Mary Lerner’s “Little Clouds” https://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/mary-lerner-little-selves/

Also, check out his “Bradbury of the Month” story, “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl” at https://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/bradbury-of-the-month-may-the-fruit-at-the-bottom-of-the-bowl/

“o” at Behold the Stars read William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” http://beholdthestars.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-tempest-by-william-shakespeare.html

I read “The Journey” by Mary Susan Buhner, and am working on a brief post about it today. 🙂

So… what short stories did YOU read this week?

Deal Me In 2015 – Week 19

IMG_3919Below are links to new posts by our group since the last update. Enjoy!

I read Jason Sizemore’s “The Sleeping Quartet” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/the-sleeping-quartet-by-jason-sizemore/ and haven’t had a good night’s sleep since. 🙂

“o” at Behold the Stars goes classical again, this time reading the Plutarch essay “On the Avoidance of Anger” http://beholdthestars.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/on-avoidance-of-anger-by-plutarch.html

Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery covers Connie Willis’s “Even the Queen”   http://bitterteaandmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/even-queen-by-connie-willis.html

Dale at Mirror with Clouds checks back in with F. Scott Fitzgerald, posting about his “An Alcoholic Case”   https://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/f-scott-fitzgerald-an-alcoholic-case/

Katherine at The Writerley Reader explores a lesser known Mary Shelley work, “The Transformation” https://katenread.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/deal-me-in-week-19-the-transformation/

Randall at “Time Enough at Last” drew a winning card when his two of spades led him to read Bernard Malamud’s “The German Refugee” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2015/05/deal-me-in-week-19-german-refugee-by.html

Can you identify the author below who was featured in one Deal Me In-er’s week 19?

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“The Sleeping Quartet” by Jason Sizemore

“A Thousand Little Deaths”

Jack Taylor’s wife tells him that hearing him struggle with sleep apnea night after night is “like listening to you die a thousand little deaths.” It is this statement that leads Jack – one of probably millions who fear going to see doctors – to schedule an appointment at a sleep clinic. How bad could that be? The reader will soon find out.

White_deck_3_of_spadesI read this story for week 19 read of “Deal Me In.” I own it as part of the author’s dark collection “Irredeemable,” which I have been looking forward to exploring. When it came time to come up with my list of stories for my annual Deal Me In short story reading project (explained here), I added a couple tales from it to get my feet wet – this story and another, “Yellow Warblers”; how scary could that one be, right? If “The Sleeping Quartet” is representative, I’ll be in for a treat when that one comes around later in the year.

Jack’s visit to the clinic starts out in a fairly ordinary way. In the waiting room with three other patients, he spends his time checking out the others (we’ve all done that, yes?), noting their peculiarities and physical features with disgust. Things take a turn for the worse when they’re led to the “lab” by a nurse that tells them they’ll have to pose any of their questions to the lab technician. When this same lab technician later responds to their queries dismissively, “Sorry, any questions you had should have been addressed by the nurse,” you begin to suspect this “clinic” isn’t what it appears to be on the surface.

Is what follows (probably the longest night of Jack’s life) only an extended nightmare, or do the events we read of really take place? Maybe some of them were real and some not? One physical manifestation is explained away the next morning when he is released, making you wonder further. I think this decision is purposefully left to the reader, and I like that. My favorite feature of this story is that it plays upon a fear many of us have – that of surrendering control to others. Something hard enough to do in normal circumstances but even harder when in your most vulnerable state – sleeping.

If you’re interested, this book is available at Amazon. The kindle version (the format I own) is currently only $3.99 http://www.amazon.com/Irredeemable-Jason-Sizemore/dp/1937929590

So, how did you sleep last night? A staple of Comedian Stephen Wright’s (below – remember him?) act used to be when he would say “Someone asked me, ’Did you sleep good?’ I said ’No. I made a few mistakes.’” 🙂

Deal Me In 2015 – Week 18 Wrap Up

Our first wrap-up of May (short story month!) includes posts on seven new stories for your perusal. See the links below:

“o” at Behold the Stars posted about Miguel de Cervantes’ “The Glass Graduate” http://beholdthestars.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-glass-graduate-by-miguel-de.html

Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery read J.D. Salinger’s story “For Esme, With Love and Squalorhttp://bitterteaandmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/for-esmewith-love-and-squalor-by-j-d.html

Dale at Mirror With Clouds read Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “Old Woman Magoun” https://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/mary-e-wilkins-freeman-old-woman-magoun/

Katherine at The Writerly a reader posts about Margaret Oliphant’s “The Secret Chamberhttps://katenread.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/deal-me-in-week-18-the-secret-chamber/ Also, you won’t want to miss her fifth “lunar extra” tale, “The Ensouled Violin” by Maria Petrova Bavlatsky https://katenread.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/deal-me-in-lunar-extra-the-ensouled-violin/

Randall read Kent Nelson’s “Invisible Lifehttp://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2015/05/deal-me-in-week-18-invisible-life-by.html from the 1986 edition of Best American Short Stories

Me? I “read local” – selecting Amy Sorrells’ poignant “Finding Eudora”  https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/finding-eudora-a-short-story-by-amy-sorrells/

Below The “Glass Delusive” Charles VI 🙂