My 24in48 Readathon Plans

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What is the #24in48 Readathon? You can find out details about it here, but essentially it’s a readathon where the goal is to spend 24 hours out of a 48-hour weekend (Friday midnight until Sunday midnight) reading.   I don’t recall how flexible the start and end times are, but I usually cheat a little bit and make mine run from early evening Friday to early evening Sunday, since I’m usually asleep after 10pm… 🙂

Stories to read in 24in48 Readathon – “Deal Me In version”

I chose eight source books, all anthologies or short story collections (or essays, in one case) by one author. I picked only books that I have a kindle version of, so that I can read “on the run” on my phone or iPad, if I find myself in line somewhere or if I take a break to go grab a bite and sit at the bar.

I picked three stories from each book, somewhat based on title (or what I hadn’t read of the anthology before) but also more or less random.  I will attempt to read all 24 stories within the 48 hour period of the #24in48 Readathon (leftover reading time will be used to finish up “A Brief History of Seven Killings” for a book club meeting the week after the readathon.)  Of note also is that I’m reading three of Roxane Gay’s essays from her collection “Bad Feminist” in anticipation of my attending a talk of hers here at the Central Library on January 24th.

I’ve applied the Deal Me In ‘randomizing element’ to 24in48 at least once before, last July, where I read 24 stories and actually managed to post a brief word about ALL of them.  See posts here, here, and here for details. Wow, just looking back at those posts, I’m remembering how much fun I had last July and can’t wait to get started again. I’m sure I won’t have time to post about all the stories this readathon, but I’ll try to at least post about my progress and maybe some detail about my favorite ones.

I’ll rate the stories according to the card values in a Euchre Deck: Right Bower- 5 stars, Left Bower – 4.5 stars,  Ace – 4.0 stars, King 3.5 stars, Queen 3 stars, Ten – 2.5 stars, Nine – 2 stars.

Here are the stories I’ll be reading. Do you recognize any favorite authors or stories? Which have you read before, and how did YOU like them?

Diamonds

♦9♦“A Ribbon for Rosie” by Isla Bick (Strange New Worlds II)
♦10♦ “A Science for Being Alone” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♦J♦ “A Strong Dead Man” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♦Q♦ “An Idyl of the Rod” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♦K♦ “Bang! You’re Dead!” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)
♦A♦ “I Once Was Miss America” (essay) by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)

Hearts

♥9♥ “In the Hills Beyond Twilight” by William Ransom (The End was Not the End anthology)
♥10♥ “No News, or What Killed the Dog?” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)
♥J♥ “Plug and Play” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♥Q♥ “Seventh Heaven” by Dustan Moon (Strange New Worlds II)
♥K♥ “The Attack of the Giant Baby” by Kit Reed (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)
♥A♥ “The Country of the Kind” by Damon Knight (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)

Spades
♠9♠ “The Dead and Metty Crawford” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♠10♠ “The First Law of Metaphysics” by Michael S. Poteet (Strange New Worlds II)
♠J♠ “The Morality of Tyler Perry” (essay by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
♠Q♠ “The Third Level” by Jack Finney (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)
♠K♠ “The Venus of Balhinch” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♠A♠ “The Watchers” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)

Clubs

♣9♣“Third Avenue Suicide” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♣10♣ “Trout’s Luck” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♣J♣ “Twenty Year Plan” by Jay Wilburn (The End was Not the End anthology)
♣Q♣ “Typical First Year Professor” (essay) by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
♣K♣ “Useless Creek” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♣A♣ “Waist Deep” by Bill Blume (The End was Not the End anthology)

#24in48 Readathon – Final Check-in

Yeah, I was too lazy to stop reading and post a few more check-ins or updates yesterday, but this did allow me to finish my 24 stories. I’ll try to do some ultra-brief summaries of the last fifteen and some overall thoughts.  As you may recall from my last few posts, I’m applying the “deal me in” apparatus to randomize my reading order of the stories, and since there were 24, I used a euchre deck.  I also rated them by the ranks of trump in a game of euchre, corresponding to #of stars in traditional reviewing. 🙂

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(I love these cards)

Story #10. ♣J♣ Jack of Clubs How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials – M.Y. Saltykov

Nice bit of satire from another Russian author I hadn’t read before. Two snooty “officials” find themselves somehow stranded on an island and realize they have no idea how to take care of themselves without the supporting apparatus of the state. Fortunately for them, they find a Muzhik (peasant) and are able to fall back to their old idle ways. My rating: Ace (=3.5 stars)

Story #11 ♦K♦ King of Diamonds – Rust and Bone – Craig Davidson

This story was the “find” of the Readathon at the time I read it. An aging boxer tells us the story of how his life came to this. Just a great story well told and great writing, like the following, when a younger version of the fighter is driving south of the border for an “underground” fight: “June bugs hammered the windshield, exoskeletons shattering with a high tensile sound, bodies bursting in pale yellow riots.” My rating: Right Bower (=5 stars)

Story #12 ♦J♦ Jack of Diamonds – Christopher Hitchens – Vanessa Veselka

Not my favorite. An exploration of hunanity’s addiction to faith and whether or not it might be “cured” somehow. My rating: Queen (=2.5 stars)

Story #13 ♠10♠ Ten of Spades – The Tale of the Three Apples Finally a story from The Arabian Nights! The hand of fate had teased me thus far in not drawing any “spades.” This tale (an early one, told during the 19th night of the Thousand and one) had plenty of classic folk/fairy tale characteristics – multiple misunderstandings, some acted upon quickly and without mercy. E.g. someone you don’t know tells a tale that implacates your wife? Better kill her and cut her into 19 pieces. Don’t give her a chance to explain herself or verify the story!  Not a bad start for spades. My rating: Ace

Story #14 ♦9♦ Nine of Diamonds – His Footsteps are Made of Soot – Nik Korpon

Largely incomprehensible (to me) story to me. Maybe I read it at the wrong time. A surgical assistant of some kind in a run-down future world(?) tries to improve his station and that of his invalid mother(?)

Group #4

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Story #15  ♥9♥ Nine of Hearts – The Discovery of Telenapota – Premendra Mitra

Saturday afternoon I had to get out of the house and ended end up reading for awhile at the Central Library in downtown Indy, then headed over to “The Tap” for a bite to eat and a couple beers. I was by myself so had my kindle with me and got some more reading in. Maybe it was the atmosphere or an incipient buzz from my high %ABV beer selections but this story blew me away and actually moved me (rare for me). This story (and author) was the discovery of the Readathon for me. I even reread it I mmediately upon finishing. “Finding Telenapota is not all that easy… From your familiar world you will enter another. An unknown mist-clad universe, bereft of all feeling. Time will stop dead in its tracks.”  And “Ruins of deserted palaces will gleam in the phantom moonlight. Lone colonnades, broken arches, the debris of courtyard walls. A ruined temple somewhere further down. They will stand like litigants, waiting in the futile hope, for the recording of some evidence in the court of time. You will try to sit up. A strange sensation will once again make you feel as if you have left behind the world of the living and entered a phantom universe peopled only by memories. The night will be far gone. It will seem an endless dark in which everything lies stilled, without genesis or end.  Like extinct animals preserved in museums for all time.”  And I thought stories told in the second person weren’t supposed to be any good… My rating: Easily a right bower (=5 stars!)

Story #16 ♠Q♠ Queen of Spades – The Hermits

My second Arabian Nights (from the 148th night) tale, and not as good as the first one. These stories seem full of Allah testing and tempting his followers. This time with a beautiful woman, “Go out from me, O woman deceitful and perfidious! I will not incline to thee or approach thee. I want not thine company or wish for union with thee; he who coveted hthe coming life renounceth thee, for thou seduceth mankind, Those of past time and those of present time.” Gee whiz. Misogyny anyone? My rating: Queen.

Story #17 ♦Q♦ Queen of diamonds – Sunshine for Adrienne – Antonia Crane

There was nothing sunny about this story, from The New Black anthology. featuring a woman with a traumatic past and a drug-addicted present, it illustrates that, even though misfortune may befall those who once harmed you, that does not necessarily clear a path for you to recovery. My rating: King

Story #18 ♣Q♣ Queen of clubs – The Servant – S.T. Semyonov

Another solid entry from the Russian writers. “Gerasim” is a man out of work and becoming desperate. He begs a shady friend of his to find him a position in his master’s household. How far is he willing to go to get a job? Will he take one at the expense of someone else? Is he that desperate yet? My rating: Ace

Story #19 ♣K♣ King of Clubs – The Signal – Vsevolod Garshin

The struggles of our Russian protagonists to find work continue in this story. Two laborers, though they have basically the same job for the railroad, view their lots in life differently. One is disgruntled, the other happy. Will the happy one be able to keep the other out of trouble or for causing harm to innocents? Maybe not,but in the end he receives help from an unexpected quarter. My rating: Left Bower (4 stars)

Group Five

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(above: interesting that the “Deal Me In Gods” put Lennon & McCartney together…)

Card #20 ♠A♠ Ace of Spades – The Caliph Omar Bin Al-Kattab and the Young Badawi

Pretty forgettable tale from night #396 out of 1,001. At least it had a good ’moral of the story’: “Who doth kindness to men shall be paid again; ne’er is kindness lost betwixt God and men.” My rating: King

Card #21 ♠K♠ King of Spades – The Man Whole Stole the Dish of Gold Wherein the Dog Ate

The jobless, poor, and panhandling have migrated from my Russian stories to Arabia. This protagonist benefits from the kindness of one of the dogs owned by a rich man, and his fortune turns around when the dog gives him a golden bowl. His ascendancy runs concurrently with the fall from fortune of the rich man. Not bad, but nothing too special. My rating: King

Card #22 ♥Q♥ Queen of Hearts – The Vegetable Man – Luigi Ugolini

My last entry from “The Weird” anthology.  The title says it all, a man is “bitten” by a plant in Brazil’s Mato Grosso, and begins to change into something more to a herbivore’s tastes… My rating: King

Card #23 ♠9♠ Nine of Spades – The Hunchback’s Tale -Arabian Nights

Probably the best of my Arabian Nights stories. a farce worthy of any of the more modern writers in that style. A man invites a hunchback/dwarf (?) into his home, and his guest dies an “accidental” death, choking on a piece of fish (though his host is really to blame, as it seems to amuse him to try to cram the food down the poor man’s throat(!)) Anyway, fearing trouble with the law, he leaves the dwarf at the house of a doctor, who stumbles into the body at the top of some stairs, sending it tumbling down and leading HIM to think HE has killed him, the poor corpse makes a couple more stops before his journey mercifully ends. My rating: Ace

Card #24 ♠J♠ Jack of Spades – The Prior Who Became a Moslem

Seems conversion in the days of the Arabian Nights is only as good as the latest “miracle” you’ve seen.  Oh, and I used the “moslem” spelling from the Richard Burton translation that I read. Better than Musselman which I’ve seen used in other older translation.

GENERAL THOUGHTS ON MY 2016 #24in48 READATHON EXPERIENCE

I’m afraid the only way I’m going to be able to read for a lot of hours in a short time is if I can switch things up fairly often, and reading short stories allows me to do this.  I kind of felt this readathon was like “Speed Dating for Readers/Authors” – spend a little time with one, note some impressions and move on. After it’s over, look back and “let them know” which authors you might like to see again and hope “they felt the same way about me” too.  For this batch, I definitely want to read more by Premendra Mitra and Craig Davidson. I also want to continue my exploration of The Arabian Nights, and I suspect my subconscious is already working on some type of challenge/reading order randomization based on the night (of the 1,001) that the tales were told.  You may not have heard the last from me on this. 🙂   My confidence in the Russian writers was also reaffirmed and I was happy to read five authors this time that I hadn’t read before.  Vsevolod Garshin’s The Signal made me want to seek out other work by him. Thanks to the #24in48 readathon, I’ve now finished up two anthologies, both of which I heartily recommend:  “The New Black” and “Best Russian Short Stories” compiled and edited by Thomas Seltzer.  You could do a lot worse than these two if you’re looking for some great short story reads.

Well, that wraps things up for me.  I hope everyone enjoyed the #24in48 readathon as much as I did.  How did YOU do with your reading?  Did you follow along on Twitter too?  I enjoyed the chatter there marked with the 24in48 hashtag.  Can’t wait for the next readathon.

#24in48 Readathon – 2nd Check-in

A really fun day of reading is winding down for me in my #24in48 efforts. So far I’ve read 15 of my 24 planned short stories and am more or less on pace to finish 24 by tomorrow evening. I’ve discovered some great new authors and been really blown away by two of the stories. For now, though, I’m here to update you on my second group of stories. So here goes…

Card #5 ♥10♥ ten of hearts – “The Dissection” by George Heym

Actually a very powerful story even though it was quite short. Written in 1913, it explores the question of how quickly ones “soul” or essence leaves one’s physical body after death. It graphically follows a team of autopsy-doers as they get busy with their work: “From their white cabinets they took out dissecting instruments, white crates full of hammers, saws with sharp teeth, files, hideous sets of tweezers, tiny knives with large needles like vultures’ crooked beaks forever screaming for flesh.” My rating: Left Bower (=4 stars)

Card #6: ♥J♥ Jack of Hearts – “Salamander” by Mercè Rodoreda

Kind of interesting story about a woman whose affair with a married man in her village leads to the unexpected backlash of her being labeled a witch by the townsfolk. Burning at the stake, transmogrification – this story had it all, but I never quite connected with it. Reminded me a little of the (superior) Katherine Vaz story, Journey of the Eyeball. My rating: King (=3 stars)

Card #7 ♦A♦ Ace of Diamonds –  “That Baby” by Lindsay Hunter

Quite the disturbing macabre story of a baby that grows at an “accelerated” rate and surely must be evil. Wasn’t the story I was in the mood for when I read it this morning, but as a representative of the horror genre, it got the job done. My rating: Ace (=3.5 stars)


Card #8 ♣A♣ Ace of Clubs –  “Vanka” by Anton Chekhov

One of my least favorite of all the Chekhov stories that I’ve read, this is the heartbreaking story of the orphan, Vanka, who seizes the opportunity of his “master” being gone to write a letter to his grandfather pleading – no, BEGGING – to allow him to come live with with him and be delivered from his horrible existence. Seems to me there is a key flaw in his plan, however… I particularly enjoyed Chekhovs description of the Grandfather’s dog: “Viun was an unusually friendly and civil dog, looking as kindly at strangers as his master’s, but he was not to be trusted. Beneath his deference and humbleness was hid the most inquisitorial maliciousness. No one knew better than he how to sneak up and take a bite at a leg.” My rating: Ace

Card #9 ♦10♦  ten of diamonds –  “The Etiquette of Homicide” by Tara Laskowski

Another brief story, this one from The New Black anthology. It presents a clinical, almost “Employee Handbook-like” view of the guidelines for a hit man. I appreciated the concept bu didn’t really connect with this one either. My rating: King


(I know I should try to find some connection between the quoted lyrics on the cards and the stories I assigned them to, but I’m too tired tonight. Maybe tomorrow.)

How about YOU? How is your #24in48 reading coming along? Are you following the 24in48 hashtag on Twitter? That’s been one of the most entertaining parts of my day. 🙂

#24in48 Readathon – 1st Check-in

I started the Readathon late last night and made it through my first four stories. If you read my last post, you know my goal this year is to not (necessarily) read 24 HOURS but to read 24 short stories in the 48 hours. I’ve assigned each story to a card in a euchre deck of cards (not familiar with euchre? See here: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-basics-of-playing-euchre.html ) My list of stories and suit themes may be found in my last post too.

I’ll try to do my twentyfour stories in five groups. One of four (corresponding to the “widow” in euchre) and then four groups of five, corresponding to the four players’ hands in a hand of euchre. Let’s get started with the widow:

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(Above: I’m using my legends of Rock-n-Roll playing cards for this Readathon. How appropriate I got started on this crazy train with Ozzy Osborne…)

First card (turned up at the start of the game): ♥A♥ Ace of Hearts.

The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles by Margaret St. Clair

A truly creepy story (appropriately found in The Weird anthology) where most of the work is left to the reader himself. What/Who exactly are the Gnoles? Why do they have need of “cordage” and why do they have “fattening pens” in their cellar? Early in the story we are told that, “In the cellars from time to time someone would scream.” My rating: King (=3 stars)

Next ♣9♣ (nine of clubs) The Revolutionist by Mikhail Artzybashev
Gabriel Anderson is a teacher who, on an early spring morning walk, stumbles onto a military patrol about to perform an execution of three of its detachment. Anderson ducks for cover before he is seen, but the event scars him and leads to his later becoming a “revolutionist” himself. Beautiful writing in this one, especially when describing the Russian springtime as it encroaches on the landscape after the ravages of winter. My rating: Ace (=3.5 stars)

Third Card: ♥K♥ King of Hearts – Genius Loci by Ashton Smith
My first (noticed) coincidence. Just like last year’s #24in48, with Margaret Atwood’s story “Lusus Naturae”  I learn a new Latin term. Genius Loci refers to “the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place”. Do you believe a certain spot can have an evil character? This story’s narrator didn’t at first, but, by the end of the story… My rating: King (3 stars)

Fourth Card: ♣10♣ ten of clubs – Hide and Seek – Fyodor Sologub

My favorite of this first “round.” A doting young mother, neglected by a cold an unemotional husband, obsesses with playing hide and seek with her young child, Lelechka. An old peasant woman tells the child’s nurse that it’s a bad omen the child loves to play hide and seek so much: “She’ll hide, and hide, and hide away…” said Agathya in a mysterious whisper. This story didn’t head quite the way I expected it to at first, but boy did it pack an emotional wallop. My rating: Left Bower (=4 stars)

Well, that’s where I am as of almost 9am Saturday morning. How is your #24in48 progressing along? Any great discoveries so far?

Another Challenging Weekend Ahead: #24in48 meets Deal Me In (Part II)

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I had such fun with my twist for last year’s #24in48 Readathon that I’ve decided to repeat my approach this year. My goal is to read 24 stories in 48 hours rather than read an actual 24 hours out of the 48 (although I may try to do this too as I have some required book club reading that is looming large…)

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As the host of the annual Deal Me In short story challenge, I’m going to let the luck of the draw again decide the order in which I read my 24 stories. I’ll be using a euchre deck and, also like last year, will be rating my stories not with a number of “stars” but with the rank of trump in a game of euchre e.g. a “right bower” rating is a five-star read. I probably explained this method better last year, so take a peek HERE if you want to see that. 🙂

Here are my suits and stories:

Clubs – Russian Stories (I devoted clubs to Russian stories once in a prior year’s Deal Me In Challenge and it was one of the best decisions I ever made)

♣9♣- The Revolutionist – Mikhail Artzybashev

♣10♣- Hide and Seek – Fyodor Sologub

♣Q♣- The Servant – S.T. Semyonov

♣K♣- The Signal – Vsevolod Garshin

♣A♣- Vanka – Anton Chekhov

♣J♣- How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials – M.Y. Saltykov

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Spades – Tales from The Arabian Nights (I’ve always wanted to read more of Scheherazade’s tales and this is a good excuse)

♠9♠- The Hunchback’s Tale -Arabian Nights

♠10♠- The Tale of the Three Apples

♠Q♠- The Hermits

♠K♠- The Man Whole Stole the Dish of Gold Wherein the Dog Ate

♠A♠- The Caliph Omar Bin Al-Kattab and the Young Badawi

♠J♠- the Prior Who Became a Moslem

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Hearts – Tales from The Weird anthology (a repeat of one of my suits from last year. This anthology does not disappoint, and I still have a lot of stories from it to go before I finish)

♥9♥– The Discovery of Telenapota – Premendra Mitra

♥10♥– The Dissection – Georg Heym

♥Q♥– The Vegetable Man – Luigi Ugolini

♥K♥– Genius Loci Clark – Ashton Smith

♥A♥– The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles – Margaret St. Clair

♥J♥ – The Salamander – Mercè Rodoreda

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Diamonds – From The New Black Anthology (a great modern day anthology from which I’ve featured several stories on Bibliophilopolis before. I think this wraps up the volume for me.)

♦9♦– His Footsteps are Made of Soot – Nik Korpon

♦10♦– The Etiquette of Homicide -Tara Laskowski

♦Q♦ – Sunshine for Adrienne – Antonia Crane

♦K♦ – Rust and Blne – Craig Davidson

♦A♦– That Baby – Lindsay Hunter

♦J♦– Christopher Hitchens – Vanessa Veselka

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I’m excited that I have never read almost ALL of the authors of these stories before and am looking forward to getting immersed in them over the weekend. I wonder what new favorite writers and stories I shall discover…

What about you?  Are you doing the #24in48 Challenge this time?  What is on your schedule for reading?  I’d particularly like to hear from others who might read short stories during this event. 🙂  Cheers, and good luck to all the participants.

24in48 Final Update

I don’t exactly how many hours of the weekend I spent reading, but I did complete my goal of reading 24 short stories in the 48 hours. Barely. I finished at about 10 p.m. last night. My stories ranged from a short 8 pages to a longish 44 pages. If I had to guess, I’d say I got between 450 and 500 pages read – a very good total for a slow reader like me.

I have to admit that even this “lighter” version of 24in48 was much more challenging than I expected. I mean, I don’t care if they’re only short stories. Twenty-four is a LOT of them to read. I liked the randomized order of reading though, as I have come to enjoy in the years I’ve been doing the Deal Me In challenge. Sometimes a story was a neat “complement” to the last one I read (and sometimes not, of course). I ’discovered’ some great new literature (Stevenson’s “The Suicide Club” Poe’s “The Imp of the Perverse”), met some authors for the first time (Clive Barker, Octavia Butler, Ramsey Campbell, and Hugh Walpole), and reinforced my favorable opinion of some others (Poe, Atwood, Oates, Irving, Munro, etc.). All in all a great reading weekend.

If you saw my prior posts, you know I’m applying the Deal Me In method to this challenge, having picked in advance the 24 stories 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.) 🙂

Below are brief comments on stories 13 thru 24: (I’m rating the stories according to the trump suit in a game of euchre Highest = Jack of the suit [right bower], followed by Jack of same color [left bower], then Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine)

#13 “The Freeze-Dried Groom” by Margaret Atwood: What would you do if you were the winning bidder on the contents of an “abandoned” storage unit and discovered a body within? I guess it depends on the kind of person you are to begin with, doesn’t it? 🙂 My rating: King

#14 “The Brood” by Ramsey Campbell: My first reading of this well-known horror author. Pretty decent creepiness factor, especially the ending, but I was hoping for more with this one. My rating: King

#15 “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James: This was my only re-read of the weekend and it was worth it (heck, I confess I remembered almost nothing about it since the first time I read it was so long ago). An alchemist, rejected by the scientific community, has a unique method of dealing with rejections. This story led me to do a little on-line research into the Runic alphabet. Of course there’s a website that will translate English characters into Runic. Did you expect there wouldn’t be? My rating: Ace

#16 “Free Radicals” by Alice Munro: Kind of ‘a Joyce Carol Oates story meets The Misfit from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is a Hard to Find”‘ but with a happier outcome. Very well done and a tidy ending. My rating: Ace

#17 “The Imp of the Perverse” by Edgar Allen Poe: How I had missed this story in my previous Poe reading I don’t know. This is another first person account of how things went wrong in the life of an unfortunate protagonist. Poe is the master of this, and I love the idea of their being an” Imp of the Perverse.” Explains a lot. 🙂 My rating: Left Bower

#18 “The Angel of the Odd” by Edgar Allen Poe. I didn’t like this one as much as the previous and suspect it was one that Poe wrote leaning heavily on his personal experience with being heavily intoxicated. My rating: King

#19 “Family” by Joyce Carol Oates: No one does dark like JCO. She doesn’t waste any time in this one explaining a back story. The reader just finds himself in a post-civilization collapse world where the horrors just keep piling up. This was even more disturbing than Atwood’s “Torching the Dusties” that I read on day one of 24in48. My rating: Ace

#20 “The Enchanted Island” by Washington Irving: actually this ’story’ is an introduction to another Irving story, but was still charming and thought provoking. This one would also be a good companion piece to Poe’s The Domain of Arnheim, which I read on Saturday. My rating: King

#21 “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth” by Margaret Atwood: the characters from Atwood’s novel,”The Robber Bride” reunite many years later and recall their misadventures with Zenia from that novel. This was my most anticipated story of the 24, but as so often happens my high expectations left me disappointed. My rating: King

#22 “The Tarn” by Hugh Walpole: My first reading of this author. If you liked Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” you’ll like The Tarn. Walpole’s Foster and Fenwick could be compared to Poe’s Fortunato and Montressor. What’s a Tarn? A deep mountain lake..  My rating: Ace

#23 “Tale of the Ragged Mountains” by Edgar Allen Poe: The Ragged Mountains really exist here in the United States. I doubt if you hiked into them you would encounter similar sights to those that Poe’s character did, however. My Rating: Ace

#24 “Ligeia” by Edgar Allen Poe: interesting that my random selection brought me my six Poe stories in pairs. What are the odds? Anyway, I’d heard of this story when I read Ackroyd’s excellent Poe biography a couple years ago. This story also makes a good companion piece to Chekhov’s “The Beauties” as much of its text is a paean to the lovely Ligeia. My rating: King

How did YOU do with the 24in48 Readathon? What were your favorite reads?

#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?

A “Challenging” Weekend Ahead!

I learned via Katherine’s blog (The Writerly Reader) of a new to me challenge coming up this weekend. It’s called the 24in48 Readathon (see http://24in48.com). It’s kind of a less hard-core version of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. In this one, participants are given 48 hours on the clock to get their 24 hours of reading done. Ah, SLEEP is possible! 🙂

My plan, though, is not necessarily to log 24 hours of reading, but to complete twenty-four selected short stories. AND, as host of the Annual Deal Me In short story reading challenge, I feel I should assign the stories to the 24 playing cards (drawing them one at a time to randomize my reading order) in a euchre deck. (Euchre is a very popular card game in the U.S. Midwest and Canada, but if you’re not familiar with the rules and are interested, look here)

I plan to write a few posts with very brief summaries of the stories and how I rate them. I think I will count my post-writing time toward my 24 hours too (although this may be bending the rules!) Maybe I’ll write one post for each “hand” of five cards that I deal and one for “the widow” (the remaining four “unused” cards in a hand of euchre)

Here are the stories I’ve chosen for #24in48

Spades – stories by Edgar Allan Poe

J – The Angel of the Odd

A – The Domain of Arnheim

K – The Imp of the Perverse

Q – Tale of the Ragged Mountains

10 – The Power of Words

9 -Ligeia

Clubs – Margaret Atwood (the remaining six stories I haven’t read from Stone Mattress)

J – Lupus Naturae

A – The Freeze-Dried Groom

K – I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth

Q – The dead Hand loves You

10 – Stone Mattress

9 – Torching the Dusties

Hearts – A miscellany of stories I want to read

J – The Beauties (Anton Chekhov)

A – the Enchanted Island (Washington Irving)

K – The Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Q – Math Bending Unto Angels (Katherine Vaz)

10 – Micromegas (Voltaire)

9 – Free Radicals (Alice Munro)

Weird-1_B2

Diamonds – Stories from The Weird compendium:

J – Casting the Runes (M.R. James)

A – The Tarn  (Hugh Walpole)

K – The Brood (Ramsey Campbell)

Q – Blood Child (Octavia Butler)

10 – In the Hills, the Cities (Clive Barker)

9 – Family (Joyce Carol Oates)

What do you think of my plan and my story selections? I should mention as well that you are completely free to join me in this challenge. 🙂 Wish Me luck!