Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: VALENTINES by Olaf Olafsson


 Because I enjoy Olafsson's novel a few weeks ago, I picked up this collection of short stories. There is one for each month of the year and they all concern romance. In the first four (what I have read so far) it is romance or marriage gone wrong. Each of them has an upsetting ending that is not exactly a twist, but it's unpleasant. (And sometimes not really earned).

And after reading one, I read the other three anticipating a bad end and it colored my reading. There is no indication these stories were published anywhere else so I am wondering if he wrote them strictly for a collection and with the rough landings in mind. Can a story be written too much for the ending? Usually that is not the case with mainstream writing but it often is for genre writing. I think it works better for one than the other. I guess I will try a few more of these but I am not impressed. 

Jerry House

Kevin Tipple 

TracyK 

George Kelley 

Kerrie Smith 

James Reasoner

13 comments:

Alice Chang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Mason said...

Yes, forcing a pointless or, indeeed, unearned twist of tragedy or nihilism in one's story's resolution just to have one is a problem, and is a notable fault in every field of writing (as you know, I never accept that there is any fiction which escapes genre, and that plots can be resolved arbitrarily in "genre" work more "legitimately" is a danger in that it furthers the notion that "genre" work doesn't have to live up to the quality of "mainstream"/non-genre work...condescension to the art, the artists and the audience, if a popular condescension). Also, contemporary-mimetic work isn't, on balance, better or even better-written than of other genres (any more than the best work in any field is ever likely to be the most popular, or the most rewarded). The writer needs to earn their readers' suspension of disbelief in all their work. And I think that there is no lack of essays in fictional form in all sorts of fiction.

Thanks for the heads-up...do you think or foresee that there will be some sort of Eventual Reason for the ugly finishes in each story so far, as the meta-narrative (if there is one) resolves?

Todd Mason said...

Tying together several recent threads, LATE NIGHT has been following up on Craig Ferguson's lead in hosting writers plugging their books, and Celeste Ng was on tonight's episode to talk about her new sf novel, OUR MISSING HEARTS.

Margot Kinberg said...

Sorry to hear this one didn't do it for you, Patti. You ask a really interesting question, too. I wonder if a story is better if a writer tells the story instead of focusing on the ending...

pattinase (abbott) said...

The ending IS the story in these I think Margot. I admit though I will probably read more of them to see if they differ or if they work more satisfactorily.
That Ng book sounds pretty amazing. He has always had more writers on, I think. None of the other bother at all.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I guess I will pass on this one.

After I finished the collections I was reading I've started three new ones:

Martin Edwasrds, MURDER BY THE BOOK: MYSTERIES FOR BIBLIOPHILES. Latest British Library Crime Classic. The usual group of older British writers.

Dan Chaon, FITTING ENDS. This is a 2003 reprint of his first collection with a couple of added stories. I suddenly realized I hadn't read his short stories. So far, a little strange. In "Sure I Will," Kip, a recent high school graduate with a morbid outlook on life and no real goals, moves in with his aging grandmother to keep an eye on her for his parents.

Eric Ambler, WAITING FOR ORDERS. When he was waiting to be called in WWII, Ambler started writing short stories as he didn't know if he would have time to finish a novel, including six stories about Czech emigre Dr. Jan Czissar, the bane of Assistant Commissioner Mercer, as he solves cases for him that he thought were already solved.

Todd Mason said...

Stephen Colbert will have the infrequent fiction-writer on, but is more likely to host a nonfiction writer such Maggie Haberman's good segment last night, about her Trump assessment volume. And he seems more comfortably bookish than Seth Meyers, as with the extended chat Colbert and Paul Giamatti had onstage/on camera about writers they both loved, with Giamatti flabbergasted they were discussing Avram Davidson's work on national commercial television.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I should pay more attention to these shows. The Haberman book sounds great.
The Ambler book sounds like a great concept. Phil was a fan of his.

Todd Mason said...

I suspect it's not a coincidence that Ferguson's LATE LATE SHOW and Meyers's LATE NIGHT were/are "allowed" to feature more fiction-writers in the 12:37AM slots (or Corden's LATE LATE to indulge more of his fellow Broadway performers) than Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel are given leeway for in their 11:35PM series.

TracyK said...

As you noted at my post, your stories were the complete opposite of mine. The premise of this book, twelve stories, one for each month, and focused on romance, would have attracted me. I may still try these stories someday.

I looked for books by this author at the book sale, with no results. That often happens, an author is just not represented or is filed away somewhere I don't see the books. I will look at more areas next year, I may have only checked in the mystery section. Next I will check the local bookstore.

Todd Mason said...

James Reasoner's corresponding post: https://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/2022/10/sunday-morning-bonus-pulp-thrilling.html

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