#24in48 Update 2

I’m already into day two of the 24in48 Readathon so it’s probably time to post another update. 🙂  

I finished another 7 stories since my first update yesterday, bringing my total to 12 – half of 24 and half of my planned reading. Half in the NUMBER of stories anyway! I don’t know about page count. I had two quite long “short” stories yesterday that took me about an hour each, which is more than I had budgeted. Maybe I’ll get some shorter ones today, which I’m starting out with Ramsey Campbell’s “The Brood” and the M.R. James classic “Casting the Runes.” This latter is the only story of my 24 that I’ve read before, but it’s been so long I hardly remember anything but the atmosphere. 

If you saw my prior posts, you know I’m applying the Deal Me In method to this challenge, picking 24 stories in advance to read and assigning them to the cards in a euchre deck. I draw one at a time and re-shuffle afterward, randomizing my order. (& I guess if you didn’t see my prior posts, you know now.) 🙂 

Here are some brief thoughts on stories six through 12 (I’m rating the stories according to the trump suit in a game of euchre Highest = Jack of the suit [right bower], Jack of same color [left bower], then Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine):

Story #6 was my first encounter with author Clive Barker (he of “Hellraiser” fame), reading his story “In the Hills, the Cities” from The Weird Compendium. Two clueless English tourists blunder upon a ritual of colossal magnitude while touring the countryside of the former Yugoslavia. I liked how the early part of the narrative included the time of day, like some kind of a log book, which gave the reader the feeling the story was counting down to something stupendous, and, boy, was it ever! Kind of long for a short story but it wowed me nonetheless.

My rating: Ace

Story #7 continued my first reading of an author with Octavia Butler’s acclaimed story, “Bloodchild.” The reader’s thrown right into the thick of an unknown world, but, near as I could make out, humans on this alien world have become the hosts for the young of insect-like natives. The narrator is a young boy/man who is slated to be ’impreganted’ by his family’s insect keeper.

My rating: King

Story #8 was Margaret Atwood’s chilling “Torching the Dusties” from her latest collection, Stone Mattress. The stories in this collection have aging as a theme, and this story explored a dystopian (at least for the elderly!) future where a grass-roots movement “Our Turn” creates upheaval by deciding the world no longer need waste resources on the elderly. The action takes place in the nursing home, Ambrosia Manor. Quite a disturbing tale, but representative of Atwood’s mastery.

My rating: Left Bower

Story #9 was Katherine Vaz’s “Math Bending Unto Angels” and was my first disappointment of the day. I’d read four other stories from her collection “Fado, and Other Stories” and all were home runs. This one may have been thrown out at first base. A tale of obsessive love, it did show signs of Vaz’s bewitchingly poetic prose, but it never latched on to me. The title sounded so promising too.

My rating: Queen

Story #10 was the oldest story of my group, Voltaire’s “Micromegas” which was written in 1752. It’s kind of an early version of sci-fi, as Voltaire uses a pair of visitors, one from a planet orbiting the star Sirius and the other a SaturnianTo share the story. The catch is that these creatures are of gigantic size. Even the Saturnian, large beyond human’s comprehension is considerd a dwarf by the other. The Story reminded me a little of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where the perspective of the very large and the very small are explored, but this story is more a commentary on the state of humanity and its apparent folly when one tries to explain it to outsiders. Very interesting tale, especially considering the time period when it was written.

My rating: King

Story #11 was my favorite of day one, and it’ll be tough to beat today. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a trilogy of short stories collectively known as The Suicide Club stories. This one, “Story of the Man with the Cream Tarts” was the first of these. I was unaware of their existence and only noticed them when searching for some more classic authors to populate my euchre deck for #24in48. This story also was special to me because the dealing of cards is a important component of the story (Deal Me In, baby!). Very dramatic and well written.

My rating: Right Bower

Story #12 was the title story of Margaret Atwood’s “Stone Mattress” collection and yet another solid entry (I expect no less from her). It’s the story of Verna, kind of a lite version of an aging black widow. She’s a lite version at least until she encounters someone from her past on an arctic tour ship. She carefully and flawlessly plots her revenge for “Bob’s” criminal act of decades ago. 

My rating: Left Bower

That’s it for me as of the end of day one. I’ve really been enjoying taking the short story reading approach to this challenge. I’ve taken a break after each story and tried to finish each one in one sitting, which I thus far have managed to do (if you don’t count falling asleep at my post last night against me)

How is your readathon going? Is there anyone else of our roughly 200 participants thatisfocusing on short stories? What are your favorite reads of the weekend thus far?

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