So I’m participating in Deal Me In, a short story reading challenge. You would think that reading one short story a week wouldn’t be very challenging. Well, reading’s no challenge; it’s remembering to read a short story when you’re already reading sumpin else.
This week, I turned over a heart in my Deal Me In short story randomizer deck. That means I went to East of the Web, where you can chose from the story of the day, a random story, or a story you choose from their database.
The story of the day on Saturday, when I went there, had a big red warning: adult content. I’m only adult by chronological definition, so I figured I’d skip that one. The random story was by Wilkie Collins, and I was like, “Hot damn!”, but it was like 38 pages long, and that don’t hardly seem short to me. Besides, although I started it, I found I don’t like reading Wilkie Collins on the screen. I usually don’t have a preference between reading on a screen or on a page, but I seem to want a big fat book in my hand when I’m reading the Divine Mr. Collins.
So I clicked on the Humor tab, and the third try was just right. And how could I resist the title?
by Charlie Fish
I’m glad I chose the category deliberately, because I didn’t think it was funny. If I had been reading it without knowing it was supposed to be humor, I would have sent the link to The Amazing Sara Marian and asked her to read it and tell me if it was safe for me. She warns me if something is too grisly or maybe liable to crash my balance between worth-living/not-worth-living.
ANYWAY, the story does turn out well, so all the stuff that had my stomach clenching was supposed to be wacky fun, after all. I’ll enjoy it much more the second time I read it.
See, this highly ambivalent new father is left in charge of the baby and, in an all-too-plausible way, becomes separated from it and goes through a nightmarish sequence attempting to recover his place with it.
I guess this would qualify as “dark humor” or, in hashtag-talk, #FunnyNotFunny.
This all sounds as if I didn’t like the story. I adore the story! It’s brilliantly written. Multiple tensions and conflicts are sketched out as sparely and effectively as in the most telegraphic Japanese ink painting. The fact that my stomach was in knots testifies to the honesty of the writing. I feel as if I lived that story.
Charlie Fish is definitely a writer I’ll read more of. Highly recommended.
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write an uncomfortable story about a baby.