R.I.P. Meets Deal Me In!
♠7♠ “The Open Window” by Saki (from link at Paula Cappa’s blog) – 5 stars. Easily my favorite so far. Saki manages to pull off an amazing prank with his protagonist – and maybe even us, the reader – as the victim. Read it online at http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/OpeWin.shtml
Above: Hector Hugh Munro – a.k.a. “Saki” (I always thought he looked like Peter Lorre)
♠K♠ “The Hell Screen” by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (from “The Weird” anthology) – 3 stars. I expected a lot more from this one, as it is so highly acclaimed, but in the end I was disappointed. A half-(or more!) mad artist can only paint things that he has seen with his own eyes is commissioned by the prince to paint a vision of hell.
Above: Not exactly the hell screen described in this story, but still quite infernal
♠J♠ “Act of Contrition” by Craig Clevenger (from The New Black anthology) – 4 stars. I didn’t like this one immediately, but I kept thinking about it and it keeps growing on me. Clevenger makes you think about just what is it that causes one to become a prophet. The New Black anthology strikes again!
♠A♠ “The Very Strange House Next Door” by Shirley Jackson (from the “Just an Ordinary Day” collection” – 4 stars. Shirley Jackson hasn’t failed me yet. This was a humorous rather than creepy story, though there are supernatural elements, narrated by a woman who claims she “can’t stand gossip” but then goes on to tell the entire story in the most gossip-y way you could imagine.
♠3♠ “Do You Want That in Blonde, Brunette, or Auburn” by Glenn Lewis Gillette (from the Dark Futures anthology) – 3 stars. This one kind of reminded me of that twilight zone episode where a convicted man sentenced to solitary confinement on an asteroid or uninhabited planet (they must have had quite a surplus of those in that universe if they’re using them for jail cells!) and is delivered a robotic “mate” since the powers that be have decided that his solitude is “cruel and unusual.” In this story, the protagonist is The Last Man on Earth and is visited by extra-terrestrial “salesmen.”
Above: Jack Warden takes on robotic Jean Marsh in the Twilight Zone episode “The Lonely” – a classic!
♠8♠ “The Grave of the Famous Poet” by Margaret Atwood (from “Dancing Girls and Other Stories) – 4.5 stars. A pretty strong story from one of my favorite writers. Not really a horror story but so “dark” it made me want to turn on all the lights in the house. Atwood relates the tale of what, to most, would seem to be a couple’s rather mundane existence. What lies beneath the exterior, however, are the kinds of things you might suspect of some but hope aren’t true.
How’s R.I.P. X going for you this year?