I Read Five Short Stories for The R.I.P. Challenge

A couple weeks ago I posted about my intention to read 24 stories for this year’s edition of the R.I.P. Challenge, and this is my first “report.” My original post listing the stories and where I found them may be found here. I’m using a euchre deck to randomly select the order in which I read them, and plan to do a quick summary after every five cards (equivalent to each hand in euchre,see?🙂 ) then one for the final four cards/stories (which will correspond to the “widow” in a game of euchre). I’m rating the stories according to the rank of trump in that game:

Right Bower – 5 stars

Left Bower – 4.5 stars

Ace – 4 stars

King – 3.5 stars

Queen – 3 stars

Ten – 2.5 stars

Nine – 2 stars

(above: the first hand I was dealt for Peril of the Short Story – not a bad hand if diamonds end up being trump) 

♦J♦ The first was “Schroedinger’s Gun” by Ray Wood, which I found in a “free” tor.com anthology. (I follow them on Facebook and occasionally they post a link to download stories or collections). The premise of this one was interesting. The protagonist, a detective of the future uses a “Heisen Implant” to help her in her crime solving work. As the title of the story and the name of this implant might indicate, the implant allow her mind to hop back and forth between the infinite number of possible universes or timelines. A great idea, but my problem with the story was that the rest of this future – seemingly otherwise contemporary – world gave little indication that the technology of this device might be possible. My rating: King

♠A♠ The second story was R.M. Cooper’s “What We Kept of Charlie” from Midwestern Gothic Magazine. In spite of the intriguing title, I struggled to comprehend this one, which was quite short. Charlie has suicidal tendencies, and the narrator relates to us in journal form how this sad event and its aftermath came to pass. My rating: Queen

♦K♦ The third story was my favorite. I liked Shirley Jackson’s “Nightmare” so much I almost wrote a whole post about it. Maybe I still will. A run-of-the-mill secretary in New York is sent on a cross-town errand by her boss and finds the city caught up in a bizarre, promotional contest urging citizens to “Find ‘Miss X!‘” She slowly comes to suspect that she herself might be this Miss X. Great story with a typical Shirley Jackson feel and atmosphere. I found the ending a little perplexing, though. My rating: Left Bower

♣Q♣ The fourth story was from Grimm’s a fairy Tales – “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About The Shivers” – a title I found irresistible when coming up with my list for R.I.P. The title character does not experience terror like the rest of us, but wishes he could. After many failures, he is finally set with the task to spend a few nights in a haunted castle. I guess maybe what we learn from this tale is that what scares people differs from person to person. My rating: King

♣A♣ The fifth story was Clint Smith’s “The Jellyfish,” a bizarre sci-fi/horror blend. The protagonist, Paul, has made up his mind to do away with himself (two ‘suicide stories’ in my first five!) and hikes to a seemingly remote area to complete his task. Things initially go according to plan until a fleeing deer and then it’s pursuing hunters discover him. Add to this a mysterious “entity” (the titular – but not literal – jellyfish is also present). My rating: Ace   

What about YOU? How is your R.I.P. Challenge reading coming along?  If you’re not participating – or even if you are – you may check out what everyone else has been posting about by visiting the review site here. – Already over 120 posts this year!

8 Comments

  1. Paula Cappa said,

    October 3, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Shirley Jackson’s Nightmare is still on my list. I need to move it to the top, now that you’ve reminded me. Thanks, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      October 3, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Maybe you can explain the ending to me after you’ve read it.🙂 The main characters travels through the city reminded me of her other story, “Paranoia” which appeared in The New Yorker a couple years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb Atwood said,

    October 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

    What an interesting way to do R.I.P.! I’m going to have to search for “Nightmare,” which I don’t think I’ve read. Have you read The Haunting of Hill House?

    Like

    • Jay said,

      October 3, 2016 at 11:17 am

      I haven’t read The Haunting of Hill House yet, but it’s been recommended to me so many times now that I’ve at least purchased a copy – just haven’t gotten to it yet.🙂

      Nightmare was in the collection “Just an Ordinary Day” – a hodgepodge of previously unpublished – or published as stand alone – stories by Jackson. I think this was one of the better ones.

      Thanks for stopping by.🙂

      Like

  3. Ti said,

    October 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I still have trouble with short stories. Mostly because I prefer door stops to really fall into.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      October 3, 2016 at 11:18 am

      I consider them a light snack or appetizer. Both of which I enjoy consuming, if we’re to follow the analogy all the way…🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dale said,

    October 3, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I’ve still only read The Lottery (when I was in high school). I need to read more of Jackson’s work.

    Like


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