Short Thoughts on Short Fiction is a new monthly column that will focus on short stories. Each month we will review a small selection of short stories from anthologies, collections, and zines, both old and new. We want to acknowledge some of the great short fiction that’s out there, shine a light on emerging writers, and point readers in the direction of great fiction.
This week, two recent Pseudopod stories.
Miss Mack by Michael McDowell originally published in the 1986 anthology Halloween Horrors
As we work hard to keep diversifying the horror genre, it’s important to make sure we don’t forget our LGBTQ+ elders, even if there is some unpacking that needs to take place with their fiction. Michael McDowell is one such elder. With Miss Mack we get to see a wonderful blossoming relationship between the titular character and Janice in 1957 (“Miss Mack, in short, knew how to show a girl a good time.”). Their story is so wonderful that you almost forget that this is supposed to be a horror story. So when a possessive dick head incites the final act of the story it feels like a slap in the face.
Papa’s Wrench and the Wind Chime by Marianne Halbert
When we hear the lyrics to the theme song for The Addams Family it’s easy to get caught up in its catchy tune and not catch some of the lyrics “Their creepy and their kooky”, “Mysterious and spooky, “Strange”, “Deranged”. I mean, the show is a comedy, right?
Papa’s wrench and the Wind Chime, in part, wonders what it’s like to live in a town with a horror family. The answer is complex. Yes, there is some sweetness. But there’s also a cost, and some stuff that ain’t comedic.
I was enthralled with this story and was constantly surprised and carried along with each new reveal and moment.
Brian Lindenmuth is the former non-fiction editor of Spinetingler Magazine and the former editor of Snubnose Press. He likes both kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. He blogs about subtitled TV shows and movies at One Inch Tall Movies
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