Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Five for 2010

Naomi Johnson runs the excellent blog, The Drowning Machine, and works with the magazine Needle. She's here at DBK with her selections and, for the first time, someone has called me a gentleman without adding, "you're making a scene"...

Somewhere during the year I lost count/track of the many short stories I've read. I've never been good at keeping track of anything, and my memory is notoriously unreliable. Often I remember I liked (or didn't) a story, but not why; the details of the story, even the concept, will have vacated my memory cells and all that is left is the residue of my emotional response to the story. So in trying to select the five stories I most enjoyed this year, I considered only those that made enough of an impact that I can clearly recall each story. Even so, whittling this list to five means leaving out some damned fine story-telling. Ever the gentleman, Chris Rhatigan allowed as how my selections needn't all come from on-line sources, but I'm a conformist by nature and since that seems to be the unspoken rule other contributors are (mostly) playing by, I'll follow suit. Some of these stories were published prior to this year, but I'm always a bit late to the party. In no particular order:

My Name is Priscilla
 by W.D. County. (Spinetingler). A sad, wrenching tale about a little girl with a special ability. This story reflects the guilt that children often assume for the actions of people well beyond their control.

Raising the Dead by Patricia Abbott. (The Back Alley, Vol. III, No. 1). This is a story that my own imagination, limited as it is, could never have created. But the beauty of it is that this tale about a photographer with a gruesome taste in portraiture is so perfectly believable.

60+ by Keith Rawson. (A Twist of Noir). Rawson has a gift for making me laugh and just a wee bit nauseous at the same time. This story, about a man eavesdropping on a bickering pair of seniors, is a prime example.

Taking a Line for a Walk
 by Nigel Bird. (Beat to a Pulp). A simple story about a school custodian who loses his job, yet Bird always seems to strike a universal chord in readers while playing a unique melody.

Cold by Ian Ayris. (Pulp Metal Magazine). A quiet tale of life-long grief and guilt that packs an enormous punch; Ayris never overstates, never over-explains. He simply creates a world of cold interiors to (forgive me) chilling effect.

Naomi Johnson blogs about crime fiction at The Drowning Machine. Through a remarkable combination of generous and nearsighted editors her stories have been published at  A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Southern Cross Review, and Encounters.


  1. These are superb choices, Naomi. Ms. Abbott's tale at The Back Alley was exceptional. I agree that I could have never concocted that fine piece.

  2. Excellent! Had read them all except for My Name is Priscilla. Jetted over to Spinetingler and read it and . . . wow. Just wow. Exceptional list. Gave me someone else to admire. That's the good thing here. You get to find folks you hadn't read and they set your shoes on fire. What a great idea you had here, Chris. Thanks for doing it.

  3. i'm also going over to spinetingler for something new. today is my actual birthday, so you can imagine how good it feels to get a present like that. may i also wish everyone a Happy New Year.

  4. Six months after I found MY NAME IS PRISCILLA among Spinetingler's submissions, and quickly bought it, I had the pleasure of meeting David County at a writers retreat. The science fiction novel he's working on is pure genius, and David might be, too. An incredible imagination.

  5. Happy b'day, Nigel. Naomi hit something on the head there--you really have a knack for nailing universal experiences. That's incredibly valuable.