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August 5, 2016

The Tweeted 20: Short Story Reviews --- Guest Post by Alison S., Teen Board Member


Teen Board member Alison S. recently had the fun idea to review 20 short stories for Teenreads, in addition to her usual monthly reviews. Except, keeping social media in mind, she kept her reviews very short --- and by "short" we mean 140 characters. In the length of just one tweet, Alison sums up some fantastic literary short stories from big name authors such as Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood. Of course, art always requires a little sacrifice, so if you see what looks like a typo, don't worry, it was all intentional. These reviews will have you laughing in no time --- and, if you'd like to try your own 140 character review, Alison has included links to free versions of the stories when possible!

"Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving

Hyped as time-travel pioneer, Winkle just jolly oaf overjoyed to sleep thru 30 yrs. Wry mix of Puritan preacher w/Mark Twain but 2 familiar.

"The Kugelmass Episode" by Woody Allen

Jerk husband cheats on wife w/ Mme Bovary thnx 2 magician-enabler. Irreverent, self-indulgent, u know better but laugh in spite of yourself.

"Miriam" by Truman Capote

Kid's a brat, but duz she = Grim Reaper? Hallucinatory, ambiguous + fun 2 puzzle out. Twilight Zone filtered thru opaque lens of modern art.

"The Birthmark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Jerk husband obsessed w/removing wife's blemish. 1800s feminine ideal + Frankenstein-esque search 4 knowledge = poetic justice 4 antihero :)

"Experiment" by Frederic Brown

Super short allegory, bumbling scientists pursue "what if?", mess w/time-travel prototype. MC w/o depth but you laugh @ end. Cat's Cradle­­­-y.

"In the Penal Colony" by Franz Kafka

Allegorical riff on Pit+Pendulum,morals of torture Dvice up 4 grabs. MCs=2 abstract— sparks thought but pace dragged out as victims' demise.

"Royal Jelly" by Roald Dahl

Bee-crazy dad sneaks sick baby royal jelly (honey byproduct). Foreboding w/stabs of black humor+doesn't take itself 2 seriously=The Witches.

"The Body-Snatcher" (Audio) by Robert Louis Stevenson

Pre-meds get corpses 4 dissection w/iffy legality. No aliens,still shivery. G Hallstrom's free audio=bedtime story read by Jack Skellington.

"Stone Mattresses" by Margaret Atwood

Woman sleeps around + kills husbands— kind of. Bone-dry wit, humanizes gold diggers :)Could be snappier. Ending gnaws/satisfies/illuminates.

"The Cheese Stands Alone" by Harlan Ellison

Twilight Zone spoof bursts w/self-deprecating humor. Stars bookshop trapping patrons like flies in amber + adulterous dentist w/potty mouth.

"They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson

Alien race made of meat. No emotional meat— ironic?— just dialogue yet hilarious w/philosophical core beneath absurd humor :) Kudos, Bisson.

"Moon-Face" by Jack London

MC resents jolly neighbor,plots his downfall. Protag alienates, characters w/o dimension+not a gr8 story 2 B a dog. U can do better, London.

"The Girl Who Ate Butterflies" by M. Rickert

She eats butterflies. He doesn't know. Tender, piercing. Face reality or retreat into delusion? Lyricism glimmers 'round a bittersweet core.

"Beyond Lies the Wub" by Philip K. Dick

Eating super-smart pig = moral conundrum but @ end pig claims vengeance! Hazy blend of Winnie the Pooh+ Charles Manson. Melts my vegan <3 :)

"The Click-Clack Rattlebag" by Neil Gaiman

They lurk in shadow, then suck your blood so you're just a bag full of rattling bones. (Rattlebag, get it?) Reawakens your fear of the dark.

"Symbols and Signs" by Vladimir Nabokov

Immigrants hav deranged son teetering on suicide+no teeth. Soggy backstory+unremitting tragedy =monotone. Spoofs lit's luv affair w/symbols.

"The Monkey Spoons" by Mary Elizabeth Counselman

Spoons in question = party favors at 1600's funeral (see where this is going?) Formulaic plot :( but it's got a monopoly on haunted cutlery.

"The Voices" by Aldous Huxley

 UCLA flunk-out scorns geriatric, New Age-y aunt, but revenge schemes snowball in2 nightmare. Stark chimera of Joyce Carol Oates/Auntie Mame.

"The Wedding Present" by Neil Gaiman

Titular gift? Story-in-story tells of cursed marriage to spare couple actual tragedy. Dorian Gray + hardest game of "would you rather" ever.

"Hello Again" by Seth Fried

Fried contemplates universe's expansion/collapse. Sparse narrative, but will daze+ dazzle you. Convinces even as it boggles, tender @ heart.

And one picture book...

While shelving kid's books at the bookshop where I intern, I stumbled across Inga Moore's delightful SIX DINNER SID. Though aimed at the juice box-drinking demographic, I guarantee this conniving feline will brighten your day. You don't have to buy it— I wouldn't ask you to surrender that much of your dignity. Just sneak into your bookstore's kid's section and spend the next ten minutes immersed in Sid's antics. It just might be the best ten minutes of your week.

SIX DINNER SID by Inga Moore

Cat connives 6 owners in2 feeding him. Duzn't preach against gluttony! 1st Lady's g8, but refreshing 2 see feasting embraced+not condemned:)