Friday, January 4, 2013

Five You Can't Miss 2012 -- Naomi Johnson

I didn't read as many short stories in 2012 as in years past, yet I still had some difficulty trimming this must-read list to just five. Stories you really should read, for their originality and their can't-get-it-out-of-you-head quality are:

THE BRIDGE PARTNER, by Peter S. Beagle, appears in print in The Best American Mystery Stories 2012, edited by Otto Penzler and Robert Crais. This is a brilliant tale about a timid woman whose new bridge partner openly wants to kill the mousy creature. But stress can transform some people. And reincarnation is a bitch.

Also in print, in the premiere issue of GRIFT magazine, is Todd Robinson's PEACHES, a moving story about a transvestite babysitter who knows you can’t go home again, but has to, just one last time.

In Patti Abbott's IS THAT YOU?, published online at All Due Respect, a cafe owner tries to help out a homeless teenager. This is a quiet tale, almost gentle, that leaves the reader either screaming or crying.

Available in digital format only is Roger Smith's ISHMAEL TOFFEE. Written in the harrowing, cinematic style that is a hallmark of Smith's prose,  this is the story of
a murderous ex-con who wants, with all his being, to be able to ignore the pleas for help coming from a little girl being sexually abused by her father. Getting involved will get him killed. But the person who can turn a blind eye to a desperate child is already dead.

And I came across a paperback anthology from 1977, Clarion SF, edited by Kate Wilhelm, that contains a stunning science fiction gem from bestselling crime fiction writer Robert Crais, WITH CROOKED HANDS, a poignant tale about what one man will endure and sacrifice for beauty. I have no links that will guide the interested reader to this story. Used bookstores and online sites such as Alibris are your best bets for finding this book.

Naomi Johnson is the on-again/off-again blogger at The Drowning Machine. Her most recent published story is HERO, about a boy who sees a kind of nobility in killing. You'll find the story in Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels.

1 comment:

  1. My two cents: 2012 was a fabulous year in novellas and short stories. I could list dozens and include several from Naomi's list.