Deal Me In – Week 32 Wrap Up

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My apologies for being a little late with this week’s wrap up.

SHORT STORY NEWS & LINKS

I found another blogger doing a challenge similar to ours, but much more ambitious. Check out “the short story box” – http://msbookish.com/a-short-story-a-day-randomized/

If, like me, Returning Reader’s short story deck has whetted your appetite for African short stories, check out the following:
http://bookslive.co.za/blog/2014/08/05/short-story-day-africa-2014-longlist-announced/

This one sounds interesting:
http://siouxcityjournal.com/lifestyles/local/retired-dordt-professor-digs-up-tales-from-the-crypt/article_dc90c812-4317-5d7d-8094-56d145e9465c.html

NEW POSTS THIS WEEK

Dale read Truman Capote’s “Mojave”http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/truman-capote-mojave/

Candiss read the Guy de Maupassant classic, “The Necklace” – http://readthegamut.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/deal-me-in-challenge-story-32-the-necklace-by-guy-de-maupassant/

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Katherine read “Diamonds aren’t Forever” by S.P. Somtowhttp://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/deal-me-in-week-32-diamonds-arent-forever/

Randall read “Dimension” a story by one of Deal Me In’s most popular authors, Alice Munrohttp://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/08/dimension-by-alice-munro.html

Me? I’m behind and haven’t read my 32nd story, “The Redfield Girls” by Laird Barron…

That’s it for now. Until next week – happy reading!

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Deal Me In – Week 26 Wrap Up – and Mid-Year Survey!

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Well, we’ve made it to the halfway point, and if you’ve made it this far you know that you’ll be able to make it the rest of the way. 🙂

Below are links to new posts since the last update and also a survey about what you think of the challenge so far and of the stories you’ve read. Participation is optional, but I would enjoy reading some feedback. You can either participate via the comments or via a separate post on your own blog.

James found an easy connection between his stories this week, reading Ernest Hemingway’s “A Canary for One” and Charles de Lint’s “A Tangle of Green Men” http://jamesreadsbooks.com/2014/06/27/strangers-on-a-train-ernest-hemingway-vs-charles-de-lint/

Dale read Truman Capote’s “A Diamond Guitar” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/truman-capote-the-diamond-guitar/

Katherine drew the mustache-less King of Hearts and read the Kevin J Anderson story “Technomagic” which included a nod to the great Arthur C. Clarke. Oh, and another card trick video as well 🙂 http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/deal-me-in-week-26-technomagic/

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Pour moi, it was another new-to-me author as I read Eric Puchner’s strange story “Beautiful Monsters” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/beautiful-monsters-by-eric-puchner/

Mid-Year Survey:

1. Do you have a favorite story or author so far?

2. What is your major “discovery” from DMI this year? Either from the posts of fellow participants or from your own story roster – or both.

3. Would you participate in the challenge again in 2015?

4. Do you think a weekly wrap-up post is necessary? Would you prefer a monthly wrap-up?

5. Do you have any good ideas for suit “themes” to share for others who might try the challenge again?

6. Have you gotten much of a response from other readers of your blog (other than fellow DMI’ers I mean)?

7. Can you recommend any good resources (on line or otherwise) for those looking to populate their DMI roster?

8. Does DMI rate favorably in comparison with other book blogging challenges in which you’ve participated? Why or why not?

9. What is/are your favorite part/parts about The Deal Me In challenge?

10. Conversely, what do you NOT like about the challenge or what would you change about it?

11. Feel free to add any other general comments.

Thanks for participating!

My answers:
1. I have several. Two that really stood out are Leonid’s Andreev’s “Lazarus” and Katherine Vaz’s “Undressing the Vanity Dolls.” In general, the Russian Authors (“clubs”) that I’ve read have been my favorites.
2. Too many to mention. One that springs to mind immediately is Grace Paley, much lauded by James at JamesReadsBooks. I’ve also enjoyed learning and reading about some of the African Authors at Returning Reader’s blog.
3. Absolutely! 🙂
4. I think I’d prefer a monthly wrap-up (less work for me) or some kind of Linky widget-y thing (where participants would be responsible for linking in their posts), which I don’t think is available for my “free” version of WordPress. Any shared expertise on this possibility would be appreciated.
5. I’ve thought about a classic fairy tales suit a couple times but never did it, since I fear that would be committing too many of my choices to less “meaty” works. I’ve also thought about a “New Yorker Stories” suit since I’m a subscriber. Another idea is a suit dedicated to authors with a local connection; one of the unstated missions of Bibliophilopolis is to support writers in my area. My favorite idea is a suit of stories I learned about from my fellow DMI participants this year.
6. Most seem to think “That’s a great idea.” A few authors that I’ve communicated with really like it too. One even said she might use it for her students.
7. I’m a big fan of library book sales and used bookstores. I pick up a couple cheap anthologies a year at those. I have ample fodder to last the rest of my short story reading life I think. 🙂
8. I’ve basically only done “read-alongs” and in my “completely objective” opinion DMI is much more fun.
9. I love the randomness and “the hand of fate” participating in deciding when I read something. “Strange coincidences” seem to often occur. I also have loved seeing some of the unique playing cards others have pictured and how others have put their own stamp on the challenge, or have come up with their own variants. And Katherine’s sharing the videos of card tricks.
10. I wish I had specifically stated that participants aren’t necessarily “required” to write a post about every story they read. Being committed to a weekly post can begin to feel like a burden. The real goal should remain just reading 52 stories. The more you post about, the better, but you don’t have to post about every one. 🙂
11. I’ve really enjoyed Deal Me In’s becoming a shared experience the past couple years. Was it Oscar Wilde who said that “a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled?” – sounds like him but I’m not sure…

Mid-year trivia: can you name the movie that included the scene below? (It’s relevant to this week’s wrap-up…)

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Another Horror Story for the Season

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Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Folding Man”

You know that old story about the black car?”
William shook his head
“My grandmother used to tell me about a black car that roams the highways and the back roads of the South. It isn’t in one area all the time, but it’s out there somewhere all the time. Halloween is its peak night. It’s always after somebody for whatever reason.”
“Bullshit.”
“… Grandma said before it was a black car, it was a black buggy, and before that a figure dressed in black on a black horse, and that before that, it was just a shadow that clicked and clacked and squeaked. There’s people that go missing, she said, and it’s the black car, the black buggy, the thing on the horse, or the walkin’ shadow that gets them…”

Horror author Joe R. Lansdale, who won a 2010 Bram Stoker award for this story, explains in a brief afterward that, growing up in the sixties, he heard this legend of the black car from his grandmother and other people (perhaps it is one of that type of stories that Truman Capote was referencing in his short story “A Tree of Night”). As Lansdale pondered, “All right, let’s say there is something bad in that car. What is it? The imagination took over.

**Spoiler Alert!**
This was a great horror story, perhaps one of my favorites of the ones I’ve read this season. It starts with some partygoers driving home ’mooning’ a carload of nuns – in a black car, naturally. Surely no good can come of this. None does. The “nuns” respond by making an obscene gesture back at Harold, Jim, and William. (Harold’s the drunk one, who actually perpetrated the mooning.) The nun’s car speeds up along side them and one of the nuns produces a two-by-four, brandishing it menacingly. Their near approach allows the boys a closer look at one of them:

“She looked like something dead, and the nun’s outfit she wore was not actually black and white, but purple and white, or so it appeared in the light from the highbeams and moonlight. The nun’s lips pulled back from her teeth and the teeth were long and brown, as if tobacco-stained. One of her eyes looked like a spoiled meatball, and her nostrils flared like a pig’s”

The nun gives Harold a lethal whack with her two-by-four, but the boys’ troubles are only beginning.

The nuns force them off the road and their car careens down into a ravine. The “nuns” themselves are apparently above the menial task of a foot pursuit, though, and this is when they unpack “The Folding Man” from the trunk of their car…

Literally a goose-bump inducing story for me! I found it in my story collection “Haunted Legends.” Many of the online reviews of that collection cite this story as one of the best in the volume. I haven’t explored the other stories in this volume yet, but if this one is indicative of their quality, I would have no qualms in recommending it. It’s e-versions are “only” $9.99. The amazon link is http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Legends-Ellen-Datlow/dp/0765323001

Are you familiar with the work of Lansdale? This was my first encounter with him. What are your favorite horror stories? Are you including some in your October reading?

(below: Horror author Joe R. Lansdale (from Wikipedia))

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“A Tree of Night” by Truman Capote

This post is done in conjunction with “Short Stories on Wednesdays,” a weekly meme hosted by Nancy at Simple Clockwork. Please feel free to participate and share with us what short stories you are reading.

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First, another coincidence… Although I pre-plan the 52 short stories I am to read during the year, I select the order I read them in randomly. This is accomplished by drawing a new card from a deck of playing cards, as I have assigned each of my stories to one of the fifty-two cards in a standard deck. Fate often seems to play a hand in what story I am led to read each Saturday when I do my drawing. Saturday, August 25th, I drew the ace of clubs and was led to Truman Capote’s short story “A Tree of Night.” The coincidence? Capote died in 1984 – on August 25th. Isn’t that something? 🙂 My stories for 2012 may be found here.

***Minor Spoilers follow***
A Tree of Night, first published in 1949, is a very short story that relies heavily on atmosphere to hook the reader. The hook didn’t sink in too deeply for me, but I did like the story. It’s about a young woman (a sophomore in college) traveling by train to Atlanta. It opens with her waiting on the platform of a train station, and Capote’s descriptive first few paragraphs are really well done and set a sinister mood which endures throughout the story. For example, he says, “it had rained (earlier) and now icicles hung along the station-house eaves like some crystal monster’s vicious teeth.”

When our heroine, Kay, boards the train, she finds only one seat available (ah! There’s the hand of fate again), and this next to an odd-looking couple: a somewhat drunk woman and her deaf-mute male companion. Though she would rather just be left alone, Kay is continually accosted by the woman to engage in conversation. Additionally, she is put on the defensive by the penetrating, intrusive questions of the woman.

She learns that the couple ekes out a marginal living as traveling performance artists, with the “performance” being a faux burial of the deaf-mute. Their business card says “LAZARUS – The Man Who Is Buried Alive – A MIRACLE -SEE FOR YOURSELF – Adults, 25 cents, Children, 10 cents” As the woman says, “Buh-leave me, it’s a hard way to turn a dollar.”

Eventually, Kay “flees” the couple and seeks some fresh air at the forward part of an observation platform. Her anxiety increases as she remembers tales she heard as a child which apparently were her region’s version of the bogey-man:

“Kay knew of what she was afraid: it was a memory, a childish memory of terrors that once, long ago, had hovered above her like haunted limbs on a tree of night. Aunts, cooks, strangers – each eager to spin a tale or teach a rhyme of spooks and death, omens, spirits, demons. And always there had been the unfailing threat of the wizard man: stay close to the house, child, else a wizard man’ll snatch and eat you alive! He lived everywhere,the wizard man,and everywhere was danger. At night, in bed, hear him tapping at the window? Listen!”

Of course, the couple aren’t really “through” with Kay yet. Perhaps to not risk dispersing the atmosphere he has created, Capote does not go into detail about what manner of foul play occurs (Robbery? Or something more?) and the reader is left to fill in the blanks for himself.

I wondered if the “deeper meaning” of the story lies in how, in childhood, we are often (with best intentions) “protected” by the grown-ups spinning tales
like that of the “wizard man,” but that these tales often remain imbedded in us, and can harm our ability to function normally – and safely – in the adult world. Something to think about, anyway.

What do you think of Capote? Anything else by him you’d recommend? All I’ve read is this story and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

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