Deal Me In, Week 45 ~ “After You, My Dear Alphonse”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“After You, My Dear Alphonse” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: 5
From: text

The Story
Despite her horror credentials, Shirley Jackson is the queen of the painfully awkward moment, often moments that only the reader is witness to.

The phrase “After You, My Dear Alphonse” is (and I had to look this up) a catchphrase based on an early 20th century newspaper comic strip. In the case of this story, it’s a bit of nonsense being repeated by Johnny and his new friend Boyd.

Each boy says it as they come in for lunch, politely refusing to enter before the other.  “After you, My Dear Alphonse.” “No, after you, My Dear Alphonse.” Jackson doesn’t give them any dialog attribution when they enter.

Boyd is “a Negro boy, smaller than Johnny but about the same age.” Mrs. Wilson immediately becomes concerned about everything. Johnny shouldn’t let Boyd carry all the wood kindling—that Boyd has collected and means to take home. Does Boyd’s father work? Yes, at a factory—as a foreman. What about his mother, what does his mother do? She stays home with the kids—just like Mrs. Wilson does, Johnny points out. Mrs. Wilson has lots of Johnny’s old clothes and a few old dresses, would Boyd’s mother like them? …”But I have plenty of cloths, thank you,” Boyd informs her. “Thank you very much, though.”

And after that, Mrs. Wilson becomes a little indignant; mainly, because she’s made  fool out herself by continuing to follow her stereotyped notions. She takes out her embarrassment on the boys and withholds dessert. The thing is? The kids are oblivious. Johnny shrugs it off as his mother is “screwy sometimes,” and they continue on with their day.

“After you, My Dear Alphonse…”

Advertisements

Deal Me In, Week 44 (catch-up) ~ “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

Card picked: 3
From: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57, Feb. 2015 Note: there is a bit of adult language in this story.

I was going to post for week 44 & 45 together, but the stories are so different. Sometimes the magic of Deal Me In is that there isn’t any happy coincidence of matching stories.

The Story
I haven’t seen Blade Runner 2049 yet despite it being directed by Denis Villeneuve and shot by Roger Deakins, both personal favorites of mine. Mostly, this is probably because movies are a bit expensive these days. 1994 Katherine might have seen it twice by now since she could catch a student-priced matinee for $3.25. Until the movie shows up on Netflix, I’ll just have to reread “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead.”

In reality, this story is a bit of a mashup between Blade Runner and The Matrix, all enveloped in cloak of pulpy noir. Rhye is a skin-job, a created human, who has been discarded. Her world is full of violence, from the contests she wins (sometimes) to the jobs to be hired muscle. The only soft spot in her world is Rack, a hacker who somewhat elevates her selection of jobs.

As with any good noir heist, this is a job gone wrong. Rack is shot, but his consciousness lives on within Rhye’s head. The only way Rhye can survive the situation she’s in is to disable, within a virtual/real world Rack’s security protocols (based on Rhye herself) and rescue/download a mobster’s adopted skin-job son.

Does it all entirely make sense? Not really, but it does hold within its own internal consistency.

Deal Me In Catch-Up, Week 41

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Tales from the Original Gothic” by John M. Ford

Card picked: Week 41: Q
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story
This story had so much potential. In an anthology about hauntings and houses, this offered up a ghost house: a house that periodically manifests full of its former occupants. A team of scientists and ghost busters anticipates the house’s appearance and decide to go in. So much potential.

The introduction to this story describes it as a “gestalt whirlwind.” I suppose that’s what this story is, but I couldn’t get through more than half of it. Six pages in, I had no idea what exactly was going on with our team of paranormal researchers.

 

Deal Me In, Week 40 ~ “Visitors”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Visitor” by Jack Dann

Card picked: 9
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story

After Mr. Benjamin died, he came back to Charlie’s room for a visit.

Charlie is fifteen and is suffering from peritonitis after an appendectomy. The other patients in the ward are similarly in pain, but Charlie had managed to make friends with Mr. Benjamin from across the hall. Even now that Mr. Benjamin is dead, their friendship isn’t over and maybe Mr. Benjamin can help as Charlie decides between a pain-filled life and an okay, but a little lonely, after-life.

While still not a story with a particular connection to specific architecture, I did enjoyed it’s gentle take on ghosts.

Peril of the Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” by Arthur Conan Doyle

Card picked: 10*
From: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (I’d link to this story, but published in 1924, it isn’t yet in the public domain in the United States. Which is utterly ridiculous.)

* Every-so-often, I make a mistake in my Deal Me In list. This week ended up being one of those oftens. When I copy/pasted the table of contents listing for the Shirley Jackson stories I’m reading for hearts, “Dorothy and my Grandmother” was slated for the 9 and “And the Sailors” for the 10, but actually, that’s all the title of one story! So, I decided to have an extra wild card slot and filled it with a Sherlock Holmes story that was recently mentioned in my copy of Dracula.

The Story
“The Sussex Vampire” is generally considered one of the strongest of this collection. Case-book was the last collection of Holmes stories written by Doyle and, in fact, some of his last published fiction. Doyle was well-tired of Holmes at this point and probably low on ideas.

“The Sussex Vampire,” though, is a very quintessential Holmes story. We have a problem, one of seemingly supernatural—or at least very deviant—origin. A woman is accused of sucking the blood of her infant child. I kind of wonder if Doyle had this story rattling around as an idea for a while, but had earlier thought the concept a little too much.

As a reread, I sort of remembered the solution to this case and I could see all the pieces being put into place. There’s the drawing room consultation and the on-site visit and Holmes being very smart while everyone is frazzled. All these things, are very satisfying as a reader. Holmes does seem a little more sensitive to others in “Vampire,” but maybe I’m used  to the very anti-social modern versions of Holmes.

The Author

This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.

I have to give props to Doyle for maintaining Holmes as a skeptical character while the author was far into his spiritualistic sojourn.

Peril of the Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 38 ~ “Things You Can Buy for a Penny”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Things You Can Buy for a Penny” by Will Kaufman

Card picked: 10
From: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57, Feb. 2015, (link to story)

The Story
I’ve been in the mood for light fantasy lately. Not quite fairy tales or their retellings, but fantastical stories that fairy tale adjacent. “Thing You Can Buy for a Penny” fits that bill.

“Don’t go to the well,” said Theo to his son. So, of course, Tim went to the well. He was thirteen, and his father told him not to. There was no magic in it.

 

In the well resides the wet gentleman, who is magic, who will grant a wish for a penny, or maybe more, or maybe less. “Things You Can Buy for a Penny” follows several generations of Tim’s family and their bargains with the wet gentleman. As one might expect when wishes are on the line, the negotiations need to be done carefully.

I’ve read quite a few stories from this issue of Lightspeed, but haven’t posted about most of them. This has definitely been my favorite (with two left on the roster).

Deal Me In, Week 37 ~ “The Witch”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Witch” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: 3
From: The Lottery, and other stories

The Story
Johnny is traveling by train with his mother and baby sister. Since the train car isn’t very full, Johnny is sitting on his own across the aisle. He says “Hi” to passersby and imagines seeing witches outside the window and telling them to go away. Johnny likes to tell the occasional fib (“What is your name?” “Jesus”), but surely that’s what four-year-olds do. His mother is enjoying some quiet reading time in between taking care of Johnny’s sister. All is well until a man with a cigar stays to chat with Johnny. “Shall I tell you about my little sister?” the man asks.

“I bought her a rocking-horse and a doll and a million lollipops,” the man said, “and then I took her and I put my hands around her neck and I pinched her and I pinched her until she was dead.”

Of course, this rattles Johnny’s mother. The man continues. Johnny is amused. Mother is appalled. Finally, she manages to shoo the man away. “He was teasing,” she tells Johnny.

And we’re left with another mother in a Shirley Jackson story who isn’t a bad mother, but we wonder if this happenstance (could it have been prevented?) will leave some terrible scar on her child. And what are we to think of Johnny’s lying? There is a very thick feeling of judgement in these stories even though nothing is explicitly stated.

Peril of the Short Story