A Quick #24in48 Readathon Update

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Morning all! I have to get to work here in a minute, but now that the #24in48 Readathon is officially over, I thought I’d provide a quick update:

I read for a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes and completed 28 stories (my lofty goal was 52 stories so I waaaaay overestimated my chances there). As most of my readers know, all of the stories were by Ray Bradbury. This is the first time I’ve read so many stories by one author “in a row” and I found that it was a very interesting experience – be the end of the readathon, Bradbury’s voice was becoming very familiar to me. (I’ll publish a more detailed post later on my impressions of what I read)

I tried to stop and tweet about my reading in the breaks between stories and I believe I sent out between 40-50 Tweets, and received 169 “likes” on them. I gained six Twitter followers during the readathon.  The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies gained eight “likes” on Facebook during the readathon, though I couldn’t prove if all (or any, frankly) were due to my tweeting and blogging about it.

I will be tabulating the “entries” to my give away during the next couple days and will announce the winner(s) soon. Likes, comments, and retweets all counted as an entry, and likes and comments on my blog did as well, so I may have close to 200 entries in the hat to draw from. Now I have to find a hat. 🙂

Here are my answers to the wrap-up questions posted by readathon hosts Rachel, Kristen, and Kerry:

  1. How many books did you read? Pages? (If you didn’t keep track, tell me that too!) I read short stories instead of books and finished 28 of them. A record for me during a #24in48 readathon – the last few #24in48 readathons, I’ve read my goal of 24 short stories rather than 24 hours. I didn’t keep track of pages read – I’m such a slow reader that it’s too depressing to do that. I’d estimate 400-450 pages, though.
  2. How many hours did you read? If my records are correct, 10 hours 13 minutes. (In my defense, I had several other obligations during the weekend that each took big chunks of time away from my reading opportunities, but it seems that’s always the case for me.)
  3. What do you think worked well in this readathon? Reading short stories gave me natural breaks, as only a few took me longer than 30 minutes to read. During the breaks I would tweet a couple times and try to like and comment on other ‘thon’ers tweets. This part of the readathon was a lot of fun.
  4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon for next time? Seems pretty good as it is, to me! 🙂 I wish I weren’t such a slow reader, but that happens with me every readathon.
  5. Will you participate in a future 24in48 readathon? Yes, I am looking forward to it already!
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#24in48 Readathon – Hour 16 Update:



Progress
: okay, I got off to a much slower start than I hoped, having decided I should at least put in an appearance at my brother’s birthday party. I got home about 9:45 (I decided to used GMT for my time zone for this readathon, so that means I official started at 8pm here) and hoped to read for at least awhile, but didn’t last too long before ISP started drifting off. I decided to let sleep happen (like I have a choice!) and just hit the ground running this morning, which I did. Immediately getting started by reading a couple stories in bed before I got up. Then it was off to Panera for coffee and breakfast where, for once, no one was in “my spot” and I read pretty solidly untila bout 10:30. At that point I’d read nine of my intended fifty-two stories and drew my card for the tenth one.

Activities: I’ve been pretty active in tweeting updates and trying to read and like a few tweets between each break in stories. This is quite fun for me, seeing what everyone else is reading and even what challenges they may be encountering during the readathon. Seeing some of their progress reports, though, makes me wish I were a much faster reader (this happens every time I participate in a readathon, though.)
Time: I’m averaging around a twenty minutes a story I guess, which means it’s theoretically possible I complete all fifty two during the readathon, but we’ll see.



Locations
:

Story 1: Rathskeller Biergarten & couch at home; 2. Couch at home 3 & 4 Bed; 5-9 Panera Bread on Southport Road (where much of this blog has been written over the years)

It seems appropriate to use a space travel-related deck of cards, so I opted for this “Space Center” deck.

space center cards

Stories Read (& my rating) so Far:

7 of Hearts – Way in the Middle of the Air (4.0 Stars)

Ace of Clubs – The Watchful Poker Chip of H.Matisse (2.5 stars)

9 of Hearts – The Martian (3.5 stars)

3 of Hearts – The Third Expedition (4.5 stars)

8 of Spades – The Witch Door (4 stars)

4 of Diamonds – The Man (4 stars)

Jack of Clubs – The Toynbee Convector (3.5 stars)

5 of Hearts – The Fire Balloons (3.5 stars)

10 of Hearts – There Will Come Soft Rains (4.5 stars)



Favorites
: It’s odd that random chance thus far has front loaded my stories from The Martian Chronicles. Maybe Fate knows how much I liked that book and wanted to start men out with more favorites. There’s something about “There Will Come Soft Rains” that really gets to me. Something about an “automated” house outliving its creators yet eventually falling victim itself to “The Forces of Nature” that activates my “sympathy subroutine” – and the inclusion of the poem by Teasdale is perfect in this story. A couple stories examined religious themes too,especially “The Man” which I don’t think I’ve ever read before. It offers a somewhat damn good view of humanity – or at least some of its members.

Giveaway Update:
I’ve recorded just over 30 entries or “chances in the hat” so far. If I eclipse 100, I will consider adding a second giveaway item. You can enterthegive away by commenting on this – or any – blog post during the readathon, or by liking or replying to my tweets, or – for double credit – liking or following The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ Facebook Page. https://m.facebook.com/bradburycenter/posts/1767308936627668

Up Next: I’ve adjourned to the Indiana State Library in downtown Indy – a favorite weekend reading/working spot and am going to try to read for the next three hours straight. Follow my progress on Twitter (@Bibliophilopoly) and let me know how you’re doing as well.

An All-Bradbury #24in48 Readathon!

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The time is nigh for the start of the Bi-annual #24in48 Readathon!

What is the #24in48 Readathon?

From the readathon’s home page, here are some details: “If you’re new to 24in48, this is the basic gist: beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, participants read for 24 hours out of that 48-hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, four hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six four-hour sessions with four hour breaks in between, whatever you’d like.”

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(above: Ray Bradbury sitting in the “prop” Time Machine from the eponymous 1960 movie)

What am I Reading?

Now “the rest of the story” is that most participants don’t actually read 24 entire hours, but rather have that as a goal.  In the past, I’ve participated by reading 24 short stories, which is harder than you think.  This year, though, to up the ante, I’m going to try to read 52 stories, all by the master storyteller, Ray Bradbury.  Why? Many reasons, not the least of which being I really enjoy reading his stories. He also doesn’t write many “long-ish” stories, so they might average a short enough length for me to complete 52 in a weekend. The most important reason, though, is that I am hoping to “raise awareness” about a local (for me) literary treasure, The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Pay them a visit at the link, and also check out their Facebook page. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Center on a couple occasions and it is chock-full of Bradbury artifacts and documents, and a re-creation of his office space. Including his seat of choice, a director’s chair (see photo below).

My Plans – and a Giveaway!

I will try to post here at Bibliophilopolis several times during the weekend, and certainly plan to tweet often about what story I’m on or have just finished, and what I think of it. I plan to do a giveaway at the end of the #24in48 challenge, and anyone who comments or likes a blog post – including this one! – or who replies or likes or retweets one of my tweets, will be entered into a drawing (and yes, if you like/comment/reply/retweet multiple posts or tweets, you will be entered multiple times – limit of one per post/tweet, though), the winner receiving their choice among several books by Bradbury – some in hardcover. (I’ll share what the prize options in an upcoming blog post)  ALSO – If you share in your comment or reply that you have liked or followed their Facebook page, you will be entered into the drawing twice.  Lets see if we can make a modest impact to their total likes tally! The winner will be notified via the same media “channel” (WordPress or Twitter) which they used to earn their entry.

(below: a closer view of some of the memorabilia at the Bradbury Center)


Lastly, this wouldn’t be Bibliophilopolis if I didn’t employ the Deal Me In approach to determine the order of the fifty-two stories I’ll read. I’ve assigned each one to a card in a standard deck of playing cards, and broken the suits into categories as follows:

♦♦♦Diamonds♦♦♦ = “The Director’s Cut” – Stories recommended by the Director of The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI, Jon Eller.

♠♠♠Spades♠♠♠ = Stories from “The Illustrated Man” or “Quicker Than the Eye” collections.

♥♥♥Hearts♥♥♥ = A red suit for a red planet! Stories from “The Martian Chronicles.”

♣♣♣Clubs♣♣♣ = Stories from “Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales”

Any of these stories marked by an asterisk were also recommended by my fellow book bloggers.

(image below found at http://ru.vector.me/search/playing-card-suit)

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Here are the stories I will be attempting to read during the #24in48 Readathon:

♦♦♦Diamonds♦♦♦

♦A♦ –  The Whole Town’s Sleeping*

♦2♦ –  And the Rock Cried Out*

♦3♦ – The Dwarf

♦4♦ –  The Man

♦5♦ – The Exiles

♦6♦ – At Midnight, in the Month of June

♦7♦– The Lonely Ones

♦8♦ – Changeling

♦9♦ – The Pedestrian

♦10♦ – The Lifework of Juan Diaz

♦J♦ – Death and the Maiden

♦Q♦ – Zero Hour

♦K♦ – The City

♠♠♠Spades♠♠♠

♠A♠ – The Concrete Mixer

♠2♠ – The Finnegan

♠3♠ – Marionettes, Inc.

♠4♠ – Dorian in Excelsis

♠5♠ – The Rocket Man

♠6♠ – Zaharoff/Richter Mark V

♠7♠ – The Fox and the Forest

♠8♠ – The Witch Door

♠9♠ – The Electrocution

♠10♠ – The Veldt*

♠J♠ – Unterderseaboat Doktor

♠Q♠ – The Very Gentle Murders

♠K♠ – The Ghost in the Machine

♥♥♥Hearts♥♥♥

♥A♥– Ylla

♥2♥ – The Earth Men

♥3♥ – The Third Expedition

♥4♥ – And the Moon be Still as Bright

♥5♥ – The Fire Balloons

♥6♥ – The Musicians

♥7♥ – Way in the Middle of the Air

♥8♥ – Usher II

♥9♥ -The Martian

♥10♥ – There Will Come Soft Rains

♥J♥ – The Million Year Picnic

♥Q♥ – The Silent Towns

♥K♥ – The Settlers

♣♣♣Clubs♣♣♣

♣A♣ – The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse

♣2♣ – All Summer in a Day*

♣3♣ – Let’s Play Poison

♣4♣ – The Dragon

♣5♣ –  Darling Adolf

♣6♣ – And the Sailor, Home from the Sea

♣7♣ – The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

♣8♣ – The April Witch*

♣9♣ – The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone

♣10♣ – The Machineries of Joy

♣J♣ – The Toynebee Convector

♣Q♣ – The F. Scott/Tolstoy/Ahab Accumulator*

♣K♣ – The Fog Horn*

Exciting/Challenging plans for next month’s #24in48 Readathon!

I’ve been away from blogging for a while but hope to come roaring back in June and July. First, I must catch up on posting about my Deal Me In 2017 stories. I’m about 9-10 behind, but have read four of those. I’ll probably do some “collective” posts dealing with several stories at a time. This is the worst I’ve fallen behind since 2011 – the very first year I attempted the Deal Me In challenge. 😦

What I’m starting to geek out about though, is an idea I have for my reading during next month’s #24in48 readathon. The last few times I’ve participated I’ve tweaked the format, reading 24 short stories in 48 hours, using my Deal Me In approach (what is the “Deal Me In” challenge?) of assigning each story to a playing card in a “euchre deck” and drawing them one at a time to randomize the order. I’ve always found that reading short stories during a readathon helps me avoid getting “stuck” in a longer work.

For next month, though, I’m going to up the ante. I’m making this one a “52in24in48” readathon, reading a full deck’s worth of stories with the catch being that they’ll all be stories by Ray Bradbury, the beloved science fiction/fantasy/however you want to label him writer. Reading 52 stories may take me the whole 24 hours too, making this the first time I’ve done the #24in48 in its pure form (of the “24” meaning HOURS, not 24 short stories). I’ll come up with some prize donations for the home site of #24in48, and maybe offer a few on my own site for commenters, or those who read & post about something by Bradbury during the challenge, or even just for logging into and “liking” The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ Facebook page. Heck, you should do that last thing regardless of the #24in48 readathon anyway, right?

I’ll firm up the details of this project in the next few weeks.  One thing I have already decided, though, is that one of my “suits” from my 52 cards will be Bradbury Stories recommended by my fellow bloggers, so give me some recommendations starting… NOW! 🙂

(Below: One of Bradbury’s stories later evolved into the iconic novel, Farenheit 451)

the fireman

I should note also that today (June 5th) marks 5 years since Bradbury passed away. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long already.

(below: one of my favorite Bradbury pics – taken with him posing in the driver’s seat of the Time Machine prop from George Pal’s film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel.)

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What about YOU?  Are you doing the #24in48 Readathon next month (7/22-7/23)?  Do you plan to read anything by Bradbury? What are your reading plans for this fun challenge?

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?

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