Back on Schedule with my Short Story Reading

I completed three short stories this weekend. Two for my “one story per week” project (which I’m now caught up on again) and one for a “Great Books” discussion group meeting this evening. I’ll just mention them briefly here, maybe writing more about one or two of them later.

First, I read the sci-fi tale, “Instinct” by one of the household names of that genre, Lester del Rey. This is a tale of the future, where humankind has died out and the “alpha race” of the planet is now robots (robots!). Apparently, there is an ongoing project to re-create man as the robots have learned that the. One thing they are “missing” in their existence is a kind of instinct. Some interesting moments, but not one of my favorites from all the short stories I’ve read recently. You may know I have a random method of choosing the order in which I read my 52 selected stories. Sometimes this leads to strange coincidences. Last week was also the much-anticipated release of the debut CD of future(?) alternative music star, Lana del Rey (no relation).

Secondly, I read Haruki Murakami’s “The Mirror” from his collection of short stories, “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.” This one was quite short, but Murakami packs quite a punch in just a few pages. This is the story of a man who worked as a night watchman, and after being in a gathering of people who shared each of their ghost stories, is compelled to tell his own. The ghost he encounters on his rounds one night turns out to be just his own reflection in a mirror (or is it?). Some great moments here, my favorite of which is when he seems to realize that, instead of what he does being reflected in the mirror, he senses he is being compelled to mimic the actions of his counterpart… Spooky, good stuff.

The third tale is the classic Edgar Allan Poe story, The Black Cat. Like the more famous “The Tell-Tale Heart,” it involves a man trying to hide the evidence of his crime, only to unwittingly reveal it due to guilt or overconfidence or supernatural reasons. The narrator is a condemned man of questionable sanity and a clear victim of alcoholism, which ostensibly leads him to his crimes. There is also some mechanical similarity to “A Cask of Amontillado” (wink, wink). Good reading.

Have YOU read any good short stories lately?

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