Monday, September 03, 2012

Forty Stories, edited by Cal Morgan

It’s been a long time since I participated in Short Story Monday.  I missed it.  So I thought I'd come back with what is probably my longest Short Story Monday post ever.

Forty Stories is a unique (and fantastic) short story collection put together by Calvert Morgan from Harper Perennial.  Forty Stories is the balance that Cal Morgan felt he "owed" us for the year he started, but didn't finish over at Fifty-Two Stories.  Fifty-Two stories was a great site, a place where you could read a new, free, short story each week.

Forty Stories is free too.  Harper Perennial made a PDF available online at the Fifty-Two Stories website and announced that on July 17th, the stories would also be available to download as an ebook in various formats (iBook, Kindle, etc.)  I downloaded the PDF immediately (I was so excited), then downloaded the free ebook on the 17th of July too.

I'd feel bad not writing something about all of the stories.  Honestly, each one was worth reading.  However, forty separate reviews seemed like a lot. So I'm going to make them “twitter” size. Each story comment is going to be 140 characters or less. 

1.    Ambivalence, by Ben Greenman - Great story. Though I certainly hope my hubby didn't do anything like that before we got married.

2.    Amy Having a Heart Attack, by Sharon Goldner - Umm. This one was a little off. Well-written, but I had no sympathy for the main character.

3.    The Anarchist of Darwin, by Michael Ramberg - Even though the main character was nuts, I could sympathize with him.

4.    Another Terrible Thing, by Catherine Lacey - It was an interesting story.  Though I felt like something more startling should have happened between the main character and her husband.

5.    Barnicles of the Fuzz, by D. Foy - Not sure I understood this one.  Is it about the characters? What's the point?

6.    Baselines, by Adam Wilson - It's a story about repetition.  Well done. I liked that it was snowing.

7.    Because you Asked, by Karon Luddy - Another story in lists? At least I understood this one. They are interesting answers.

8.    Before The Trip, by Adetokunbo Aviola - Had me on the edge of my seat. Very exciting.

9.    The Beginning of the Summation of Our Dead, by Blake Butler - Felt more like free form poetry, with a plot. Interesting. I can see why people would like it.  I still think it needs paragraph/stanza breaks.

10. Birthright City, by Eliezra Schaffin - An interesting look at Jewish tradition and at the growing up of a girl who doesn't fit in.

11. Can a Corn, by Jess Walter - A little morbid and sad.  Definitely attention-grabbing.

12. Confluence, by Mesha Maren. - It was a depressing story. I kept waiting for something bad to happen.

13. Djeser Djeseru (Splendor of Splendors), by Paula Younger - I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I really liked Patty, but why did the driver turn out to be sleazy? The Egyptian Christian was good, but not the Muslim? I understand that he was trying to get out of Egypt and was using her. I suppose this is the same problem I've had with portrayals of Muslims in some writing.  (I know this is bigger than “twitter-size”, but the story really bothered me.)

14. Eighty-six Ways To Cross One Desert, by Alexander Lumans - An interesting way to write a story. I liked it, but I'm not sure I understood it.

15. Everyone Loves Someone Who Doesn't Give a Fuck About Anything, by Jane Faulds - I don’t really like stories with swearing in the title. It was a good story with some serious dysfunction.

16. Fire Weather, by Brady Hammes - I feel sorry for Kate, though she seems increasingly apathetic. Phil is crazy.  Great story.

17. A Girl, by Lindsay Hunter - Interesting story.  I wish they found her. I like closure.

18. Glossolalia, by Kyle Minor - An unlove story...

19. God's Plan, by Daniel Brown - It's a sweetly sad story, but there is hope and potential at the end.

20. Granaby, by Brandon Hobson - What an utterly depressing story. It was well written and there's more to the main character than what we learn here.

21. Graveyards, by Scott McClanahan - Is this really non-fiction?  It has a ring of truth.

22. Head Down, Palm Up, by Mitchell S. Jackson - A somewhat depressing story, but it also left me disconnected from the main character.

23. Hers, by O.A. Lindsey - What a depressing, sad story.  I almost couldn't finish it.

24. The Highline Highway, by Nathan Oates - A unique and interesting story. Glad to have read it.

25. House Guests, by Alan Rossi - A great story with a crazy ending. Another unique one.

26. I Like Looking At Pictures of Gwen Stefani, by Elizabeth Crane - I love Gwen Stefani, but I don't think that was the point of the story. It was looking and seeing.

27. I'll Take You There, by David Williams - The difference between religion and faith.

28. In The Manner of Water or Light, by Roxane Gay - There is truth, the search for it, the real and the one we tell ourselves so we can move on.

29. Jailbreak, by Matt Stewart - Short and sad. If you knew your children would turn out this way, why have them?

30. Jon and Maeve, by David Backer - Amazing story!  A unique plot and characters.  They felt real.  The situation felt impossible and plausible at the same time.

31. Miss November, by Matthew Norman - I loved this story.  It was sad and sweet and very relatable.

32. Most Wanted, by Eric Raymond - It was too sad.  I kept thinking he was going to find her in the faces of one of the random girls.

33. The Mountain Population Is Me, by Shane Jones - Change is bad?  I really liked the story and I feel as though it is trying to teach a message, but I don't know exactly what.

34. opal one, opal two, by Tessa Mellas - Beautiful sentences, but difficult to understand. Haunting? Grief?  Also, no capitals!

35. A Plain Kiss (Letters To Allison), by Jamie Quatro - Very sad.  She just wants something to happen, but she's too afraid. Also, I hate the violin teacher.

36. Plank, by Kayden Kross - Not sure I like stories told in second person. Makes me feel like there is no main character.

37. Poof, by Joeseph Scapalleto - Umm, did he just throw his nephew.  A great, quick story.

38. Some Kind Of Rugged Genius, by Greg Bardsley - I loved this story!  It is unique and you do not see the end coming.

39. What Good Is An Ark To A Fish, by Kelli Ford - An apocalyptic story about family.  Beautiful and sad.

40. You Can Touch This, by Jim Hanas - A somewhat tense story. I was afraid for the zombie at the end, but it seems that it worked out for them. Also, as a mother, how could you forget your kid??!

The stories are great.  I know there were some of them where the story might have bothered me, but none of the stories were poorly written, so I’m taking those few negative reactions as subjective.  I can't express how much I enjoyed this wonderful, diverse assortment of plots and voices. I can't encourage people enough to download it.  This free ebook might just lead you to your next favourite author. 

Also, thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.


  1. Twitter reviews! Great idea.

    I'm going to look for the Kayden Kross story. (I love 2nd person narrative!)

  2. Oh dear. Turns out that Kayden Kross is also a porn star. I better careful what I click on!