Three Word Reviews: Five Favorites for Free Reading

As some of you know, I was married just last Saturday. Therefore, I am bringing you a review I wrote a while back, when I had time on my hands and could foresee this future me who wouldn’t:

In the interest of supporting some of my favorite short stories, and the interest of mincing words, I bring you the second installment of five of my favorite stories reviewed in three words. This exercise began during a busy time of year, when I foolishly thought that writing three-word reviews would take less time. Oh, how wrong I was. Choosing only three descriptive words out of all those available is a maddening exercise, though certainly one I enjoy doing, or else I wouldn’t have repeated the experiment. The difference with these favorites is that they’re all available for free online. Enjoy!

“The School” by Donald Barthelme
From Sixty Stories
Free read: http://www.npr.org/programs/death/readings/stories/bart.html
A teacher attempts to teach his students about life through a series of class pets.
Surreal. Humorous. Brilliant.

“Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente
From Clarkesworld 71
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/valente_08_12/
Nominated for the 2013 Hugo and Nebula awards and framed by hokey retro advertisements, “Fade to White” tells of an alternate 1950’s where coming-of-age means young men and women undergo fertility testing – nuclear fallout has rendered many infertile – before being paired in an elaborate ceremony with a Husband or Wife.
Lyrical. Surprising. Intriguing.

“Fatso” by Etgar Keret
From The Nimrod Flipout
Free listen: http://vimeo.com/9116496
A man’s girlfriend transforms each night into a large, hairy man, which the narrator is surprisingly okay with.
Strange. Poignant. Funny.

“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
From Asimov’s, July 2008
Free read: http://www.kijjohnson.com/26_monkeys.htm
A woman struggling with finding her lot in life purchases an act from a man at a state fair: the act includes 26 monkeys who disappear, nightly, on stage, only to return with tokens of the places they have been.
Fun. Hopeful. Mysterious.

“Five Ways Jane Austen Never Died” by Samantha
Henderson
From Fortean Bureau
Free listen: http://podcastle.org/2011/08/16/podcastle-170-five-ways-jane-austen-never-died/
For a reviewer who has yet to read a Jane Austen book or be drawn in by the Austen lore, I was surprised to love this short story, in which five vignettes detail fantastical life endings for Jane Austen.
Intelligent. Poetic. Believable.

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