Wednesday, January 31, 2024

SSW: Fred Chappell's 3 (earliest published?) short stories, in Robert Silverberg's SPACESHIP, April 1952, April and October 1953: Short Story Wednesday

Fred Chappell (born 28 May 1936/died 4 January 2024) and Robert Silverberg (born 15 January 1935) were teenaged fantastic-fiction fans in 1952, but were already showing some promise of the kind of writers (and editors) they would soon and continue to become...both had discovered the fiction magazines, among other reading, that would help shape a notable part of both their careers, and were involved in the (somewhat!) organized fantasy/sf/horror-fiction-fandom culture of the late '40s and early ' much so that three issues of young New Yorker Silverberg's fanzine (or amateur magazine meant for other fans and any other interested parties) Spaceship (first published by Silverberg in 1949) would each offer one of three vignettes from young Canton, North Carolina resident Fred Chappell, in Starship's 4/52, 4/53 and 10/53 issues. Prof. Shirley Bailey Shurbutt, in the online "Kunstlerroman as Metafiction: The Poetry and Prose of Fred Chappell and the Art of Storytelling" misunderstands a line (she conflates professional fiction magazines with amateur fanzines) in John Lang's Understanding Fred Chappell in which Lang notes Chappell's statement that he had published two early stories under pseudonyms that Chappell insisted he would not divulge, and also notes that Chappell had two (rather than three) short stories in Silverberg's fanzine (almost correct, though under the byline "Fred Chappell") and Harlan Ellison's fanzine Dimensions (apparently untrue, but a closer look at Dimensions issues here will come soon)...if Chappell also had two early, pseudonymous stories in non-amateur magazines such as Weird Tales or the other sf and fantasy magazines of the early '50s, his attempts to keep them hidden have (as far as I know) succeeded, so far. 

Chappell makes the claim about two hidden stories himself (with implication that they are to professional magazines) in the 2022 documentary Fred Chappell: I Am One of You Forever (which can be seen here, and should be--despite the documentarians choosing, when running a slideshow of fantasy and sf magazine covers over Chappell's soundtrack description of his first publications, throw in an issue of a monster-movie magazine, for no obvious reason other than their confusion, among the fiction magazines). Chappell's sister recalls that Fred first attended a convention, apparently the 1953 Philcon in Philadelphia (which she refers to as a national writers' conference, which is understandable, but not quite correct--so much as a convention of writers, editors, fans in the social sense [the fannish subculture, including those who published fanzines] and fans of the specific writers, et al.), the WorldCon for that year, when he was 14 years old, which Bob Silverberg (in correspondence) suspects is a memory-slip on her part, as Silverberg recalls meeting Fred for the first time face-to-face at the '53 convention, when Chappell would've been 17yo.

The three Chappell stories in Spaceship are juvenilia, but (unsurprisingly) relatively deft fiction for a promising teen writer. They are worth reading, certainly for any fan or would-be scholar of Chappell's work.

"The New Frontier", in Spaceship #17 (1952) (which can be read here, and features contributions by other notable writers and fans as well--not least western and fantastica writer and folk-music critic and magazine editor/publisher Ms. Lee Hoffman), is a bit of a psychodrama, as the widow of an astronaut will find herself triggered into fugue states of communication with her dead husband.

"The Tin Can", in Spaceship #21 (1953) is young Chappell in a somewhat comic mood, albeit also exploiting adolescent insecurities as they persist with his protagonist, who acutely feels his lack of sophistication and self-worth in the company of his fellow astronauts...even after he discovers what looks like an enormous tin can through one of their spacecraft's viewports. A bit of an anticipation of Pop Art here, too. The online reproduction of this story features some rather odd scanning, in (I suspect) an attempt to not damage the fanzine issue too badly, but it's legible. This might also be the least assured of the three Chappell stories in Silverberg's fanzine.

"Brother", in Spaceship #23 (1953) is a slightly more straightforward  story of brothers' rivalry (in a sense), with the middle brother of three boys no little vexed by his elder brother's consistent recounting of the rigors of the elder's life as an astronaut, to the rapt attention of their parents and the youngest brother. Middle brother is both jealous and rather less invested in and actively questioning the glamor of the experience. (Though it had begun earlier, the 1950s were a good period inside and outside the sf community for considerations of how there might not be so very much glory in space exploration, for a number of reasons, most of them inherent in humanity.) 

If these were the stories Chappell would rather not be seen, well, they are both promising efforts by a writer in his mid-teens, and are short enough as well as deft enough to make reading through the typewriter-layout of the fanzine issues worth the look (and enlarging the image on your computer, if necessary) for more than simply historical purposes. 

Thanks to Robert Silverberg, Gordon Van Gelder and Rodrigo Baeza for drawing attention to these early Chappell publications.

For more of today's Short Story Wednesday items, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

THE TRIALS OF O'BRIEN--the television series (and film)--episodes online at the moment:

 The Trials of O'Brien - Wikipedia
The Trials of O'Brien was, as noted elsewhere in the blog, a 22-episode/single-season CBS television series that had the poor fortune of being slotted in 1965-66 against another new series, NBC's Get Smart, and a remarkably popular older series on ABC, The Lawrence Welk Show. CBS didn't seem inclined toward giving it another chance in a less viewer-deprived slot. Which is a pity, since it was a decent series, even if the humor in the production could be a bit broad at times, rather more deft in other instances. More or less, the regular cast included Peter Falk as gambling-addicted, reluctantly divorcing, somewhat eccentric defense attorney Daniel O'Brien (Falk apparently preferred this role to that of the not dissimilar Columbo);  his much put-upon but deft and devoted secretary Miss G (Elaine Stritch); his soon to be ex-wife and commercial artist Katie (Joanna Barnes); her mother, Margaret (Ilka Chase), his bookie, the Great McGonigle (David Burns), and a police officer of his acquaintance, Garrison (Dolph Sweet).
Circulating episodes of the series are mostly in not the best shape, after multi-generation dubbing from tape to tape...who knows if any legatee of Filmways or MGM have retained masters. Posted version of the one 2-part episode, filmed in color and released in foreign markets (and probably to US tv syndication) as a feature, looks rather better. (Click on the YouTube logo to watch them in full-screen.)
"Over Defence is Done": Pilot episode--guest stars include Murray Hamilton, Vincent Gardenia and Kathleen Cody. A rather hardboiled episode at times.

"Bargain Day on the Street of Regret": Ep. 1o2--guest stars include Herschel Bernardi, Rober Blake, Albert Dekker and Judi West.

"No Justice for the Judge": Ep. 103--guest stars include Burgess Meredith and Barnard Hughes.

An episode which won scripter David Ellis the Writers Guild of America award for best episodic drama script in 1966.

Not available on YouTube. Archived at the University of Georgia (the Walter J. Brown Media Archives) in two parts: 

"A Gaggle of Girls": Ep. 107--guest stars include Tammy Grimes, Noëlle Adam, David Doyle, Valerie Allen and Reni Santoni.

"Charlie's Got All the Luck": Ep. 110--guest stars include Martin Sheen, Tony Roberts and Judi West.

"Picture Me a Murder": Ep. 111--guest stars include Alan Alda, Joanna Pettet, Charles Grodin, Jessica Walter, Harold J. Stone and Claude Akins.

And, finally among what's currently posted, the film version of  Ep. 120 and 121, "The Greatest Game" Pts. 1 & 2, slightly recut as Too Many Thieves, with guest stars Britt Eklund, David Carradine, George Coulouris and Nehemiah Persoff.

Posters for the film version:
Too Many Thieves

Friday, January 19, 2024

FFB: Randy Johnson on THE TRIALS OF O'BRIEN by Robert L. Fish (Rediscovered)

And, unsurprisingly, Randy also put this review up

Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2014

I was completely unfamiliar with this series. Understandable. 
I was fifteen at the time it aired and mostly watched and read 
science fiction. It only ran for one season and I read elsewhere 
that Peter Falk said he thought more of it than he did his signature 
show Columbo. Daniel J. O'Brien is a lawyer that likes to play the
horses and throw the dice, gamble in general, and is not very 
successful at any of them. He owes everybody, has an ex-wife that 
constantly carps about late alimony in the form of bounced checks, 
and a secretary he's always borrowing money from and is behind 
on her salary. Fortunately for him, he seems to bring out the soft 
spot in women and stays on their good side. Just barely.

O'Brien gets unwittingly involved in a scheme by an old client of his. 
Benny Kalen is a three time loser. That he only got a few years on 
his last conviction instead of a dozen makes no impression. O'Brien 
should have got him off, therefore he didn't deserve to get paid.

O'Brien gets suckered by Benny's wife into being at a bar late one 
night while Benny and a confederate are pulling a stick-up job on 
a finance company that had just opened next door.

Thinks go wrong and there's a dead body. Benny's parole officer had 
warned O'Brien that he heard his name mentioned and believes he's 
in on the job.

Our lawyer is forced to defend his former client, who swears the man 
was already dead and the safe broken into when he entered the office, 
in order to clear his name.

Robert L. Fish wrote this one and is the reason I gave it a try. 
His novel Mute Witness became the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

SSW: Joyce Carol Oates: "Sex with Camel"; Carmen Maria Machado: "Especially Heinous: 272 Views of LAW AND ORDER: SVU": THE AMERICAN READER, May/June 2013, edited by Uzoamaka Maduka: Short Story Wednesday

Two stories, a short story by J. C. Oates and a novelet (the magazine dubs it a novella, and it's close to being an either-way call) by Carmen Machado, the two biggest names (in terms of literary careers in the U.S.) a decade+ after this issue's appearance as they were (or in Machado's case, was becoming) at time of publication.

Joyce Carol Oates's story is a fairly straightforward account of what's running through the minds of a grandmother and her adolescent grandson, as she goes through some workups and examinations during cancer treatment and he comes along with her to the labyrinthine hospital; the title is a reference to one of the jokes the teen tells her as she drives them to the appointments, after she asks him to tell her something amusing. It gives impressions of how things work in U. S. medicine these years (a decade ago, much as now), and is otherwise impressionistic,  recounting the grandson's peregrinations around the hospital, including into the adjoining eating disorders suite, while his gran goes through her examinations...a conversation he has, for example, with an apparently to him beautiful teen girl a few years older than he, even given her starvation, who's disinhibited and slightly abrasive in her conversational style by one of the meds she's been given. The views and concerns the boy and the woman have of and for each other are explored.  It's a bit "looser" than many Oates stories, but has the earmarks of her work, and is a solid example thus.

Carmen Maria Machado's story is a metafiction which uses as its skeleton the episode titles of each of the episodes of Law and Order: SVU broadcast up to the time of the story's composition (if she was writing it today, it might have to be at least a short novel, if following its current format), and using the relationship and basic situations between the primary characters Benson and Stabler (in the early seasons of the series) as a springboard for ruminations on how they might find themselves growing increasingly divorced from even their portrayed reality, their lives and jobs, as they navigate the sequence of sex-related and child-abuse-related crimes they are tasked with investigating, detailed by vignettes inspired more by the titles of the episodes of the series than by their plots. It's a clever and often funny approach, even given the seriousness at its heart, which the subject matter of both story and series requires, even as the series can and does manage to traduce that requirement at times via a certain mechanical quality in its of the aspects the story gets at, as it also introduces elements such as doppelgangers of the principals, named Hensen and Abler, who seem to be more efficient usurpers of the protagonists' lives and careers. It makes its points, beyond the obvious stunt value of its premise.

For more of today's stories, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Monday, January 15, 2024

THE AMERICAN READER: 2012-2015 (10 issues) and some web content: edited by Uzoamaka Maduka; Monday Fiction Magazine #1

The American Reader was an ambitious project, perhaps even the equivalent of post-grad work for its principals, very much including the founding editor-in-chief and chief public face of the magazine, the (at founding) 25-year-old Ms. Uzoamaka "Max" Maduka, a Nigerian-American who was interested in demonstrating that there was a market among her generation of readers for relatively sophisticated literary work, but not afraid of a sales pitch leaning into would-be glamor, perhaps a fair amount of the latter driven by fund-raising necessity but perhaps also due to the desire to be On the Scene in NYC-based publishing and overlapping communities...the kind of social whirl around magazines ranging from The Paris Review to National Review (only presumably without the CIA connections and/or funding both of those had early on), and seeking the kind of stability that, say, Harper's had achieved through its institutional heir publisher. The subtitle on the cover of the first year+'s issues was "A Monthly Journal of Literature and Criticism"--it managed two monthly issues in its slightly longer than two-year run; it went to "A Bimonthly Journal...", also a schedule they couldn't maintain. But, then, essentially no one has been able to jump into the market in the last half-century or so with a monthly literary magazine...even the hardiest examples have tended to start with quarterly or bimonthly publication, and presumably with more capital on hand in most cases (and this includes the theoretically "more commercial" fiction magazines in fantastic fiction and crime fiction, where the long-running titles are mostly bimonthly these years and often were introduced, even back in the 1940s as well as in the '70s, as quarterlies). And the issues I've seen were ad-free, except for a very few house ads (touting subscriptions and their website, which featured some extra content at times).

I picked up at least a couple/few issues of the magazine during its run. I never saw the first issue, the only one in saddle-stapled format--see photo of the stack below--and with a cover stock that was easily crumpled; the balance of issues were "perfect-bound" (with glued signatures) and with a heavier stock; the new cover format was patterned (notes Amy O'Leary in New York Times coverage linked at the bottom of the post) after a French political journal, Le Contrat Social, with illustrations soon added with the flavor of another 1950s inspiration, the work of art director George Salter at the Mercury Press magazines such as The American Mercury, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and their Mercury Mystery and other newsstand periodical book lines, packaged and sold similarly to their magazines. 

The one issue I've recently turned up in my reorganization of my library is the May/June 2013 issue (still in the "monthly" subtitle era!), so I'll provide an index and links to the American Reader web archive of those contents as I find them (the site Really Could use a search function, at least).

Maduka, upon the folding of her magazine, had already joined the board of Lapham's Quarterly, and subscription fulfillment for her magazine was offered with issues of that magazine, which (as it happens) officially folded late last year.

What remains of the TAR website;  TAR's pretty good Facebook "wall"...which has been abandoned, and thus has some porn spam in comments on late posts, but still has many interesting links--and is the closest thing to an index the site has.

Karen Joy Fowler interviewed by Carmen Maria Machado

The first issue, October-November 2012

The American Reader, May-June 2013, V 1 No 5/6, edited by Uzoamaka Maduka. 172pp plus covers, $10. Irregular publication intervals, not quite bimonthly throughout its run.

3 * Anonymous/uncredited * Contributors * biographic blurbs
6 * Jacqueline Waters * Candor * poem
11 * Matthew Rohrer * The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg at the Grey Gallery, NYC * pm
12 * Matthew Rohrer * Hide in the Clouds * pm
13 * Matthew Rohrer * Two Poems for Issa * pm
14 * Matthew Rohrer * Dark Inside, Bright Outside: A Magritte * pm
15 * Matthew Rohrer * Bullshark * pm
16 * Liam Hysjulien * Stone, Deep, Mountains * pm
17 * Liam Hysjulien * The South * pm
18 * Liam Hysjulien * Teachers * pm
19 * Jameson Fitzpatrick * Adolescence * pm
20 * Jameson Fitzpatrick * Apart * pm
22 * Otto Jaffe * The South of France * ss
27 * Joyce Carol Oates * Sex with Camel * ss
40 * Ramon Isao * Feats * ss
55 * Carmen Maria Machado * Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law and Order: SVU * novelet
92 * Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon * Scenes of Emancipation: On Jacques Rancière 's Aisthesis * essay
96 * Jacques Rancière * The Cruel Radiance of What It Is: Hale County, 1936-New York, 1941 * excerpt, Aisthesis, translated by Zakir Paul, translation Verso, 2013
111 * South Korea * group/translations
112 * Jenny Wang Medina* Introduction * in
115 * Hwang Byeong-Seung * First * pm, translated by Chae-Pyong Song and  Darcy L. Brandel
116 * Moon Tae-Jun * A Brief Nap * pm, translated by Chae-Pyong Song and  Darcy L. Brandel
117 * Moon Tae-Jun * The Ibis * pm, translated by Chae-Pyong Song and  Darcy L. Brandel
118 * Moon Tae-Jun * A Pair of Shoes in the Yard * pm, translated by Chae-Pyong Song and  Darcy L. Brandel
119 *  Park Min-Gyu * Castella * ss, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
129 * Kim Aeran * Flugdatenschreiber * ss, translated by Jamie Chang
145 * Book Reviews (illustrated with uncredited spot/clip art)
146 * Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon * Francesco Pacifico's The Story of My Purity (FS&G 2013) * br
151 * Drew Calvert *Anne Carson's Red Dog (Knopf 2013) * br
156 * Eli S. Evans * A. G. Porta's The No World Concerto (Dalkey Archive Press 2013) * br
160 * Reed Cooley * New Poetry Roundup: Ray Amorosi's Lazarus (Lost Horse Press 2013), Charles Bernstein's Recalculating (University of Chicago Press 2013), Nicholas Hundley's The Revolver in the Hive (Fordham University Press 2013)
168 * Uzoamaka Maduka * Editorial Epilogue: A Woman in Love, In Love, In Love * ed
back cover: painting by Andrew Kim (a detail from which is on the front cover)

Press Coverage, beginning and end: 

"Literary magazine The American Reader to shutter" by Kelsey Sutton, Politico 9/23/15 3:53 PM ET

And I hope everyone has had a good Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, even given most of the weather in the U.S....

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

SSW: MIDNIGHT GRAFFITI edited by Jessica Horsting and James Van Hise (Warner Books 1992); THE WAYS WE LIVE NOW: CONTEMPORARY SHORT FICTION FROM THE ONTARIO REVIEW edited by Raymond J. Smith (Ontario Review Press 1986): Short Story Wednesday

Executive summary:

Anthologies from two of the more notable little magazines of their era; OR having lasted a third of a century, and this, the only anthology from it so far, drawing on its first dozen years, the magazine ending with the death of its editor and co-publisher Raymond Smith, as cofounder and widow Joyce Carol Oates chose not to continue it. MG having been more of a mayfly in the horror small press, but having gathered an impressive roster of contributors, with the editors and publisher continuing their writing careers afterward, if perhaps not robustly (not sure if their romantic/domestic partnership continues, another parallel); the book apparently includes reprints from the magazine and fiction perhaps 
still in inventory after the last issue of the initial run was published in 1992, or solicited for the book--with one story already a reprint when published in the magazine, and another possibly resold to Pulphouse after MG's long delays in publishing (two more issues, one a 1994 "special" and the 1997 other one apparently mostly nonfiction, sporadically followed the book's publication); for i
ts partthe OR book includes a Margaret Drabble story (and not a hundred-word vignette) published two years before in the UK edition of Cosmopolitan, but not previously in North America. Both books rather neglected, even at time of release, with only two editions each...hardcover and apparently trade paperback editions of the Smith volume released by OR Press, and a mass market paperback original release from Warner Books and a Doubleday Book Clubs edition in hardcover for the MG volume. In their introductions, Raymond J. Smith and Jessica Horsting go out of their way to note how very much concerned with the world of today the fiction in their magazines has tended to be, perhaps even more so than that of most comparable magazines in the eclectic literary magazine and the horror and suspense fields (both magazines with dollops of satirical and other sorts of fantasy included), with these selections perhaps highlighting that tendency, which might even be why they seemed a good pair for an essay about just that (Raymond Smith even revising Trollope's novel's title to fit his anthology's tendencies); it's not as if, say, Conjunctions nor Whispers was oblivious to such concerns, but perhaps not quite as intent on being attuned to them. Also notable is the degree to which talented writers, from those who never need worry where their next meal was coming from to rather new and usually promising professionals, would place work with the magazines which presumably paid modestly if at a reasonable going rate. Smith is relatively restrained in presentation, running the stories alphabetically by author, and offering only brief contributor notes in the last pages, including the datum that Oates "helps edit" OR; Horsting is more intent on curation, breaking stories into themed batches, each with a brief introduction by her; each story also has an uncredited headnote, where perhaps an invisible hand of Van Hise is felt. Also notable is how starkly textual how both books feel, compared to the imagery, illustration, photography or otherwise, their magazines featured in each issue.

Both magazines leaned toward shorter fiction, rather than novellas or serialized or even excerpted novels; when one removes the dust jackets from both the hardcover volumes, one finds that the OR volume is red with black lettering on the spine, the MG black with red lettering, making for a sort of visual harkening to Stendhal jointly and severally. Unsurprisingly, Ways is a better-built volume, sewn in cloth-covered boards on better paper but with slightly less easy-to-read typesetting;  the book club edition of the other has a then-typical D-day glue binding on less sturdy boards containing slightly cheaper paper, but also depends on the more thoroughly professional typeface choices in play at Warner Books, and with fewer words per page, probably has about as much content as the thinner volume.

Neither book was too thoroughly reviewed, as far as I can tell, at time of release...the OR volume seems not to have been reviewed in such a way that I've found indexes for those reviews at all, while MG received a number of mostly unimpressive Goodreads responses and not too much more, though Will Errickson's womanfriend Ashley Louise did guest-review it for his blog in 2010.

Midnight Graffiti

edited by Raymond J. Smith (Ontario Review Press, 1986; 0-86538-054-6, x+301pp, hc; 978-0865380554 tp)
        Details supplied by Dennis Lien, augmented by TM.
    • ix · Preface · Raymond J. Smith
    • 1 · Molly’s Dog · Alice Adams · ss The Ontario Review 21, Fall 1984/Winter 1985
    • 12 · The Man from Mars · Margaret Atwood · ss The Ontario Review 6, Spring/Summer 1977
    • 29 · Saving the Boat People · Joe David Bellamy · ss The Ontario Review 21, Fall 1984/Winter 1985
    • 45 · Town Smokes · Pinckney Benedict · ss The Ontario Review 25, Fall 1986/Winter 1987
    • 58 · My Life as a West African Gray Parrot · Leigh Buchanan Bienen · ss The Ontario Review 15, Fall 1981/Winter 1982
    • 69 · At the Krungthep Plaza · Paul Bowles · ss The Ontario Review 13, Fall 1980/Winter 1981
    • 74 · The Black Queen · Barry Callaghan · ss The Ontario Review 13, Fall 1980/Winter 1981
    • 77 · Homework · Margaret Drabble · ss Cosmopolitan (UK) November 1975; The Ontario Review 7, Fall 1977/Winter 1978
    • 84 · Death’s Midwives · Margareta Ekström · ss; translated by Linda Schenck, The Ontario Review 20, Spring/Summer 1984
    • 93 · Fruit of the Month · Abby Frucht · ss The Ontario Review 20, Spring/Summer 1984
    • 102 · A Pure Soul · Carlos Fuentes · ss; translated by Margaret S. Peden, The Ontario Review 12, Spring/Summer 1980 
    • 116 · The Harvest · Tess Gallagher · ss The Ontario Review 19, Fall 1983/Winter 1984
    • 129 · Some Gifts · Reginald Gibbons · ss The Ontario Review 5, Fall 1976
    • 137 · Black Cotton · William Goyen · ss The Ontario Review 17, Fall 1982/Winter 1983
    • 144 · Any Sport · William Heyen · ss The Ontario Review 24, Spring/Summer 1986
    • 152 · The Mango Community · Josephine Jacobsen · ss The Ontario Review 20, Spring/Summer 1984
    • 168 · A Metamorphosis · Greg Johnson · ss The Ontario Review 8, Spring/Summer 1978
    • 178 · On This Short Day of Frost and Sun · Maxine Kumin · ss The Ontario Review 5, 1976
    • 185 · Baby · Joyce Carol Oates · ss The Ontario Review 23, Fall 1986/Winter 1987
    • 199 · Confessions of a Bad Girl · Bette Pesetsky · ss The Ontario Review 23, Spring/Summer 1985
    • 209 · Tea Party · Sarah Rossiter · ss The Ontario Review 15, Fall 1981/Winter 1982
    • 221 · Shadow Bands · Jeanne Schinto · ss The Ontario Review 23, Fall 1985/Winter 1986
    • 235 · Rough Strife · Lynne Sharon Schwartz · ss The Ontario Review 7, Fall 1977/Winter 1978
    • 252 · The Girl Who Loved Horses · Elizabeth Spencer · ss The Ontario Review 10, Spring/Summer 1979
    • 267 · The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud: A Story · Daniel Stern · ss The Ontario Review 24, Spring/Summer 1986
    • 273 · Mourning · Robert Taylor, Jr. · ss The Ontario Review 14, Spring/Summer 1981
    • 281 · Interviews with Insufficiently Famous Americans · John Updike · vi series 
    •     281 · The Counselor · vi The Ontario Review 12,  Spring/ Summer 1980
    •     283 · The Widow · vi The Ontario Review 16, Spring/Summer 1982
    •     285 · The Undertaker · vi The Ontario Review 15, Fall 1981/ Winter 1982
    • 287 · A Lesson in the Classics · Gloria Whelan · ss The Ontario Review 18, Spring/Summer 1983
    • 299 · Contributors · Anon · bi

  • The stories: as too often, life has been less cooperative than I'd like in rereading the stories in either volume over the last week, but among those I refreshed my memory of, it's amusing to compare the fantasy stories "My Life as a West African Gray Parrot" by Leigh Buchanan Bienen and "Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland" by Joe Lansdale (the book never gives him his middle initial); the Buchanan Bienen, by a writer who had been and remains primarily a lawyer (particularly involved with women's rights cases, which informs the story), professor and author of legal volumes, as well as contributor of short fiction and critical essays to little magazines, involves said parrot, being as many non-human animals in the story a karmic? reincarnation of a human, recounting her less that joyous life with a human married couple who looked upon their purchased bird as  more conversation piece and investment than pet; all the reincarnated animals in the story, such as her keepers' tomcat, can converse with each other (somehow), but apparently another non-human animal she interacts with has not been blessed with reincarnation from human form nor a common language. While the Lansdale involves a present of a wife to a husband of an inflatable T. rex toy, which upon inflation begins to act like a young child, not altogether like Pinocchio, but unsurprising in this to its new "parents"...the plastic dinosaur quickly becomes obsessed with the prospect of going to the original Disney theme park and meeting the cartoon characters and the like, an excursion Bob's parents enable with perhaps surprising results. Animal/toy fantasy, a bird with an old soul awaiting its next incarnation and an artificial youngster recapitulating human childhood and adolescence. The Lansdale is funnier, if slighter, and has been reprinted more often; the Buchanan Bienen was included in the O. Henry Prize Stories volume for 1983, and both are a bit eccentric even for their first publication sites. 

Both books have a triptych of short fictions, the OR example by John Updike (arguably the "biggest name" in the Smith volume--though Oates, Margaret Atwood and Carlos Fuentes are among the many potential challengers there, particularly in 2024) and the MG being three of four stories by R. V. Branham, not quite a "discovery" of the horror/dark fantasy magazine (he'd gone through the Writers of the Future program and had sold several stories to Gardner Dozois's editorship of Asimov's Science Fiction), but the only fiction contributor to have two distinct entries in the Horsting/Van Hise volume. Not even Neil Gaiman, much less at time of the anthology's publication Lansdale, was as close as they are now to being nearly as prominent as Stephen King among the MG volume's contributors, which does have a rather lopsided representation of male to female contributors, vs. that of the OR.

  • Jessica Horsting

James Van Hise

Raymond Smith and Joyce Carol Oates

To read some individual issues and contents of those issues, please see

For more of today's Short Story reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog.