I know all of us here in Shakesville love our books. Personally, when it comes to fiction, I have a love for short story collections. There’s at least a dozen on my shelves right now; and I always look greedily at new ones when they’re released. Which brings me to the question: What’s your favorite short story? (I’m cheating and going with two.)
Richard Matheson (Who many of you know without even realizing it; he penned “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”: “There’s a man on the wing of the plane!” and many other stories that were made into Twilight Zone episodes) is one of my favorite short story authors. It’s very difficult to pick just one, but I’ll go with “Disappearing Act;” a chilling little noir-ish tale about a man that is slowly vanishing. It begins:
These entries are from a school notebook which was found two weeks ago in a Brooklyn candy store. Next to it on the counter was a half-finished cup of coffee. The owner of the store said no one had been there for three hours prior to the time he first noticed the book.
The house is gone.
I’m sitting in the corner candy store. When I got back from the V.A. I found an empty lot there. I asked some of the boys playing there if they knew me. They said they didn’t. I asked them what happened to the house. They said they’d been playing in that empty lot since they were babies.
The V.A. didn’t have any records about me. Not a thing.
That means I’m not even a person now. All I have is all I am, my body and the clothes on it. All the identification papers are gone from my wallet.
My watch is gone too. Just like that. From my wrist.
It had an inscription on the back. I remember it.
To my own darling with all my love. Mary.
I’m having a cup of cof
Man, I love that.
Another favorite of mine is “The Sound Machine,” by Roald Dahl, about a man who invents a “listening” machine, hoping to hear sounds that are normally undetectable to the human ear. Unfortunately, it works a little too well, and he realizes he can hear roses screaming in pain when they’re cut…