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Search tags: short-story
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review 2018-06-19 02:55
Michael Blumlein, Keeping House

From Casual Debris.

 

 

Following her appointment as Associate Professor of Classics at the nearby university, a woman, along with her husband and their baby daughter, move into their new home. Rather than taking on the challenges of the shabby, broken down yet affordable house on the block, they settle on the more costly, yet renovated house beside it. What is quickly set up as a ghost story becomes something entirely difficult, relying on the psychological rather than the paranormal to illustrate an intelligent and hard-working woman's mental decline.

The story toys a little with the conventions of haunted house stories, referencing some of its tropes, like unpleasant scents and mirrors that reflect things that don't appear to be present at all, but instead of being a ghost story, it is far more akin to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's excellent psychological tale of deterioration, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892). Like Gilman, "Keeping House" is told through the point of view of a new mother in a new environment who begins to believe that her surroundings are coming alive. Rather than believing someone is living trapped in the wall or its paper, Blumlein's unnamed heroine believes that threatening spirits are trying to infiltrate her home, entering from the adjacent, broken down eyesore of a house she chose not to purchase. To prevent this threat from destroying home and family, she does battle via an obsessive cleaning/cleansing routine.

Though the story can arguably be read ambiguously, there is enough evidence in the text to indicate that the visions and scents stem from the woman's overwrought mind. Possibly following postpartum, as is the case in Gilman, the un-named narrator goes through various extreme mood swings, which eventually culminate in her taking on all aspects of a family provider, and believing there is a threat attempting to pervade the house and harm the order and harmony she is struggling to maintain. She fights back by increasing the need for order and cleanliness to a dangerously obsessive degree.

Our narrator finally snaps as she begins preparations to have sex with her husband. This is the only indication in the story of any form of intimacy between them, hinting that they have not been physical sine conceiving their only child. Like her obsessive cleaning routine, her preparations for sex become ritual-like, and the story hence makes a connection between the couple's intimacy and the invading spirits, at least in the woman's mind. As she fights to prevent threats to invade her home, she is fighting to prevent her husband's invasion of her body. Following this scene we are informed that the husband is grumpy and increasingly absent due to work, though likely he is staying away from his wife in response to her increasing obsessiveness ("You are sick," he tells her), and perhaps also out of basic sexual frustration. The consequence is simply that mother-wife, as in Gilman, becomes increasingly isolated in response to the husband's unsympathetic assessment of her condition.

 
Thematically the story can be read as a modern woman struggling with the pressures of a career and balancing the traditional mother and wife requirements of home. Husband is absent from much of the story as he is struggling at a new job, or so the narrator presumes, and in a sense re-living the postpartum environment as mother is trapped at home with baby. Whatever we wish to read behind the woman's deterioration, it is the process itself that is the focus of the story. Again as with Gilman, our heroine is at the outset of the story already in her isolated state at home, though Blumlein's narrator does have the freedom of escape as she goes to work. The latter portion of the story, however, takes place during the summer, and as a teacher she drops her summer work option and remains at home to battle the demons behind the walls. The ending lacks the pure creepiness of Gilman's final scene, but does give us quietly depressing final act of cutting oneself off entirely from the world that surrounds.
Source: casualdebris.blogspot.com/2018/06/michael-blumlein-keeping-house.html
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review 2018-06-02 05:12
The Nameless Dark by T.E. Grau
The Nameless Dark: A Collection - T.E. Grau,Nathan Ballingrud

T.E. Grau offers up an impressive collection of weird tales, bringing a fresh, new and compelling voice to the classic sub-genre. These stories will haunt you into the deep hours of the night...and they will have you thinking the rest of the time.

T.E. Grau is an author to watch.

Highly recommended.

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review 2018-06-01 03:57
Sheep's Clothing by Elin Gregory 3.5 Star Review!
Sheep's Clothing - Elin Gregory

A terrifying personal change plus a family bereavement might have been bearable, but the break up of a relationship as well is just too much for handyman Darren Murchison to take. Everywhere needs someone who can fix pipes and fit lights, right? So he ups stakes and moves to a quiet valley in rural Wales.

With work to do, a house to improve and a hunky farmer to lust after, things are looking up! In sheep country just how much trouble can a gay, English, werewolf plumber get into?

 

Review

 

For such a short read, this is a wonderful romance in terms of character development, setting, and world building. 

We get the start of a romance but the bad guy took up room where more love story could have been but very good quick read. A delight with lots of fun surprises.

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review 2018-05-28 23:55
Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans Review
Long Macchiatos and Monsters - Alison Evans

Jalen, lover of B-grade sci-fi movies, meets the far-too-handsome P in a cafe while deciding whether or not to skip uni again. When P invites them along to a double feature of Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon, Jalen can hardly believe that hot boys like bad sci-fi, too. But as their relationship progresses, Jalen realizes P leaves them wondering if they're on the same page about what dating means, and if that's what they're doing.

 

Review

 

Awkward new adult dating with a geeky bad movie habit with a disinterested non binary college student and a mohawked too sexy transgendered hero.

Everything that is this story is good. P and Jalen lightly but with real care deal with issues of gender, class, and disability. However, it is pretty short and some some elements feel stunted and P's lack of communication skills are weary making but lovely overall.

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review 2018-05-22 16:55
Dialing Dreams (Sweethearts and Jazz #1) by Jessica Eissfeldt
Dialing Dreams: A short story - Jessica Eissfeldt

Belinda Thompson has always wanted to be a singer and trained to do so, but when her mom died she left the care of Belinda's ailing father to Belinda. So Belinda does her duty and tends to her father and works as a telephone operator for a hotel at night. Nick Hart, a crooner who is making a name for himself in the jazz genre, calls the hotel one night and "meets" Belinda. Belinda hates her job and is no mood for drunk prank calls. Nick calls again, this time sober and they began courting over the phone. Nick and Belinda meet and he thinks she has what it takes to be on stage and in the studio. 

 

Nick was a fine hero, but Belinda sucked. She got on my last nerve with her passive-aggressiveness. Thankfully this was a short story. The pictures did not need to be in there - yes, the author had pictures showing what happened in the story...that I just read. Such unnecessary padding. I won't continue with the series.

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