I just realized, the last note on my blog has been about striking out, and has been there since the end of January. Oops!
On an up note, Ellen Datlow has posted her honorable mentions
for Best Horror of the Year, Volume 2
My micro fiction piece, "A Jury of His Peers," made the list. I've still got my copy of "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, volume 3--the very first Ellen Datlow anthology I picked up...back in 1989!
It would be great to make the final cut one day! But while I'm dreaming, this brings me around to the topic of fiction quality...
For me one of the marks of a truly outstanding short story is: you remember it years later.
On the opposite end of the scale, of course, are the stories you stop reading a couple paragraphs in, because you just can't identify--or you can identify plenty that's, um, just wrong. These stories aren't dangerous.
If you stumble on them ever again, which isn't likely, you'll stop reading them again.
Somewhere in between, though, are the middling stories that entertain as you read them, and vacate short term memory within a day or two. Beware of these stories, because you run the risk of rereading them. Competent as they may be, you'll end up saying to yourself, "Oh, wait a second, I think I read this before..." And could have been reading something new, or something you have read before, but which was truly great.
Whenever I see an anthology bearing the words "Best" or "Great," the titles from my own mental "best" anthology spring to my mind like fridge magnets: William Faulkner's stories "Barn Burning" and "That Evening Sun" both devastated me, for different reasons; William Trevor's "Torridge" blew me away, probably the best story involving revenge that I have ever read (sorry, Poe, much as I still love "Hop-Frog" and "The Cask of Amontillado," Trevor's got you beat!).
Which brings me back to that volume 3 anthology. That dates back to 1989. I read it in my Hoosier days at Indiana University, and I still can recommend that anthology to anyone interested in picking it up at half.com, because of the following stories, which I still remember (though I haven't read them now in, what, two decades?):
- The Edge of the World
- Hansel's Finger
- The Illusionist (yeah, the movie was very good--but it was only BASED on the story, and the story is GREAT, not "very good")
- A Sad Last Love at the Diner of the Damned (and I generally don't go in for Zombie fiction!)
- Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites
- White Noise
- Yore Skin's Jes's Soft'n Purty...He Said
Questions of God, alienation, love/loss, wild west justice in the 20th century...These are stories I wish I could reread again for the first time.