Hub again. I’m a little behind, but only by a week now.
Issue 89 provides Storm CHASER by Craig Pirrall. I liked this. Love the idea of a storm in a bottle and I’d have coughed up the forty bucks. The characters are very vivid for such a short piece. Again, I was disappointed that it ended so quickly.
It’s the Tuesday post! Today, I’m going to review Hub. A nice short story to read and ponder while I eat my sandwich.
The story in Issue 88 is Red Rover, Red Rover by Janet Loftis. This is fantastic. Children, horror and excellent writing. It is really quite creepy and that sandwich is not settling well. My only complaint was that it ended. I’d love to read what happened next.
Ah, these one story issues of Hub are perfect for reading and reviewing in your lunchbreak.
Issue 87’s story in Nightlife by Dean Grondo. Wow, that’s disturbing. I think I’m actually horrified. This is a snippet of an insight into the mind of a serial killer. There’s no attempt to construct a narrative or give any backstory and I think that shows just how competent and assured the writing is. All throughout the story I was thinking in a slightly hysterical way ‘but why? Why?’ and no why was given. It would have been a much weaker piece if the author had attempted to answer the questions. I’m not sure I actually liked it but it’s the first time in ages I’ve been really disturbed by a horror story – and isn’t that exactly what the genre is supposed to do? I’ll be looking out for more of Grondo’s work.
I’m almost caught up. This is Issue 86 of Hub. There’s only one more in my Inbox, although I’m expecting another one tomorrow.
There are two stories this week. Wink by Lucy Kemnitzer is a surprisingly affecting story. She packs a lot into few words. It starts out with the idea that puberty can be controlled, thus it need only be started when required and packed into a couple of months. This is well told through a character embarking on puberty in response to meeting another character. Then the story abruptly twists into an exploration of gendered communication, misunderstood expectations and ultimately rejection and disappointment. It’s really good.
Tastes of the Dark is by Malin Larsson. Something about this didn’t work for me. It has the well used twist of leading the reader to believe that the POV character is the prey when they are actually the predator. Generally I don’t object to using a structure or idea that has been done before because a good story is a good story. I guess what I’m learning from reviewing other people’s work is that the telling matters more than the tale. And in this case the telling lacked tension.
I am now reviewing Hub in the same month of its publication. I’m giddy.
The story in Issue 85 is Old Clothes by Chris Cyr. I didn’t like this. It’s a ghost story and is the experience of a woman’s spirit after her death. Old clothes are used to hang old memories on and tell parts of the woman’s life story. For me, it lacks conflict and emotion. It is, unfortunately, just a bit dull.
Special treats in Issue 83 of Hub. There’s a poem as well as a story.
Story first, as usual, and it’s Mother Sponge by Mur Lafferty. This is really good. Exposition is handled in great dialogue and adds to the story rather than slowing it down. It builds from a strong start into a gripping finish – something that I now realise is rare. Stories often seem to start strong and falter towards the end but this gets better as it goes along.
The poem is The REAL Easter Bunny by Peter Roberts. It’s cute in a horrible sort of way. I should mention that I don’t read much poetry, although I do appreciate some of it. I’m interested in form and prefer stuff with some structure rather than free verse, so the rhyming couplets appealed to me.
My Dad’s Idea by Llinos Cathryn Thomas is kind of fun. It’s a tongue in cheek solution to resource exhaustion and its impact on the human race. It’s worth a read.
On an aside, and as I don’t have much to say about the story in Issue 84 of Hub, I recently watched a few episodes of Primeval based on the review in this issue. And I’m glad I did. Someday I’ll make the effort to catch up with Series 1 and 2.
Once upon a time, I thought I was catching up but this is real life and there’s no happily ever after. Which sounds more depressing than I mean. There are endings and many of them are happy and then the story keeps on going. Much like my quest to catch up on my reading. Oh happy fool.
Issue 82 of Hub contains the story Under A Bridge by Paul Fairbairn. It’s okay. It’s a modern fairy tale and that’s quite nice to see. I like the idea but the telling of it lacks depth. Exposition is nicely weaved in with dialogue and the writing is competent. It took me a moment to put my finger on what was missing – and in this case, it is that something is missing rather than that something is wrong. There’s no sensation. A very physical scene is described very cerebrally. There’s no smell or sound or texture and little colour.
Still struggling to get used to the new blocky design of Hub‘s website. And still struggling to catch up with all the things I want to read.
Anyway, Issue 81. The story is Gifted by Philip Palmer. Wow. This is fantastic. The very sad tale of a lonely boy who wastes the gifts he has, and knows that he wastes them. The non-linear structure underpins the sense of dislocation and conveys some of the backstory without words. I loved the repetition of some of the scenes and the way it helped to heighten the emotion. Definitely read this one.
Yikes, Hub‘s had another redesign. I’m not so keen on this version; it hurts my eyes a little and seems a bit old-fashioned. Still, what it looks like is less important than what’s in it.
On to Issue 80 and Hush a Bye by Beverly Allen. This story starts off well. Allen takes a mundance breakfast scene, hints at a mundance cause of her protagonist’s sleepless nights and makes it compelling through wonderful writing. She creates a viscerally real atmosphere and knowable characters with a deft hand. I was really impressed.
The ending was a little disappointing. It felt rushed and lacked the drama that the story really deserves. It’s worth a read, for the brilliance of Allen’s writing, and I’ll be looking out for more of her work.