The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

January 12, 2010

Short stops #4

My mom, who will turn 80 this July, wanted to know if elderly people ever show up in the kinds of stories I like to read. Oh, yeah, they surely do. All of the following stories, except the James Lee Burke story, have a senior citizen in an important role. And I'm telling you, elderly doesn't mean helpless.
I'm almost afraid to put Keith Rawson's little piece of voyeurism, 60+, as the first of today's recommendations. You may read it and decide you'd rather seek out Rawson's entire oeuvre rather than come back and check out the rest of this week's recommendations. I'll have to take the chance though, because you must read 60+. Slick, sick, and very appealing to my twisted sense of humor. Rawson displays a hitherto unknown (by me anyway) gift for action scenes. Thanks to A Twist of Noir for publishing this one.

As long as you're visiting A Twist of Noir, take note of two recent additions to the site: Stephen Book's debut, a very short tale about the aftermath of a stick-up, The Medicine Woman; and Chris Benton's dysfunctional-family drama, My Darlin'.

Stepping away from the online world, I just finished reading James Lee Burke's wrenching short story, The Mist, about a drug addict/prostitute whose husband was killed in Iraq shortly before she herself became one of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Burke is peerless when it comes to evoking the reader's five senses, but what is miraculous is that he never judges his characters. You'll find this small gem of a story in Burke's 2007 collection, Jesus Out to Sea.

In print also, is Kyle Minor's brilliant novella, A Day Meant to Do Less, a tale about a man who must bathe his helpless mother. Seeing this event through the eyes of both characters, the story burrows into childhood nightmares and makes them live again. Perhaps because the fears and concerns of seniors are so close to my heart right now, this one touched a special chord in me. Or perhaps it was just great writing. This story can be found in The Best American Mystery Stories 2008. And in case you missed it last year, you can read Minor's Spinetingler-nominated short story, They Take You in the Summer, 2008, issue of Plots With Guns.


  1. Some fines choices. Minor's stories are amazing. Keith R is- well- a one off!

  2. Thanks, Naomi, for putting together these. Because of you, I'm reading more short stories this year :-).

  3. In my novel Ghost Hunter there is an elderly woman and her friend. She has been forced into an independent living center by her son who wants the house to himself but she gets an attorney and fights...gets back into home. Other books have had older people as well.


  4. Naomi - anyone who would use a picture of Statler and Waldorf in her blog is definitely someone I want to know! ;-) Love that.

    Up until recently I've kept my short-story reading to those that are linked to series I'm already reading. But now that I'm venturing into new territory, I appreciate your recommendations for where to look next. Thank you!

  5. Christine, I'm a big fan of S&W, they make me happy to be aging so that I can say whatever I darn well please and be excused for it.

    I kind of started out the way you've gone, reading short stories because they were by already-favorite authors. But after trying my own hand at writing a few, I started branching out to authors I hadn't read or even heard of.

    The Internet is a great place for short story readers as it has the classics available for free as well as brand new, unpublished authors. Free goodies - I am always in favor of that!