WELCOME TO DECEMBER PROJECT!
this explanation/intro will be posted before each day’s short story. scroll down to get to the story-review.
this is the SIXTH year of me doing a short story advent calendar as my december project. for those of you new to me or this endeavor, here’s the skinny: every day in december, i will be reading a short story that is 1) available free somewhere on internet, and 2) listed on goodreads as its own discrete entity. there will be links provided for those of you who like to read (or listen to) short stories for free, and also for those of you who have wildly overestimated how many books you can read in a year and are freaking out about not meeting your 2020 reading-challenge goals. i have been gathering links all year when tasty little tales have popped into my feed, but i will also accept additional suggestions, as long as they meet my aforementioned 1), 2) standards.
GR has deleted the pages for several of the stories i’ve read in previous years without warning, leaving me with a bunch of missing reviews and broken links, which makes me feel shitty. i have tried to restore the ones i could, but my to-do list is already a ball of nightmares, so that’s still a work-in-progress. however, because i don’t have a lot of time to waste, i’m not going to bother writing much in the way of reviews for these, in case GR decides to scrap ’em again.
i am doing my best.
DECEMBER 29: UNNECESSARY THINGS – TATYANA TOLSTAYA
That night, I slept with my arm around him; he weakly returned the hug with his solitary paw. It was a white summer night, a kind of gauze with dusky twilight, no slumber, but a yearning for it. The bear smelled of dust, dust and old age, infirmity, decades, millennia. Opening my eyes in the underwater dimness of this alabaster midnight, I could see the black thread hanging from his miserable little eye socket. I stroked his wooden head; it was covered with scars. I touched his ears.
although i am a grown-ass woman, when it comes to stuffed animals, i am myself a big ole softie. and when those stuffies are old and worn and LOVED, it activates all of the feelings in me that are supposed to be attached to babies, small humans, alla that biological imperative kinda stuff.
i have experienced misty-eyed heart-swellings over books like Much Loved, Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories: A Tribute to the Threadbare Companions of Childhood, Dirty Bow Wow, and Chewed, and if you know of any others like these, please send titles my way.
and this story, about someone reuniting with a beloved old friend, battered now by time and neglect—as short as it is, as achingly unresolved as it is, stirred my feels because i understand this character’s swirling nostalgic remorse down to my core.
I found the bear or, to be more precise, his remains: a furry wooden frame with a single front paw, a plastic button for one eye and bits of hanging black thread for the other.
I grabbed him, holding him tight, clutching his dusty, bristly torso, and closing my eyes to keep the unexpected stream of tears from raining down on him.
it’s a lovely, forlorn little story, and i will never be too grown-up to feel the scouring, heart-panging joysorrow of a fuzzy friend loved into oblivion.
DECEMBER 1: NIGHT STAND – DANIEL WOODRELL
DECEMBER 2: MR. DEATH – ALIX HARROW
DECEMBER 3: THE FRUIT OF MY WOMAN – HAN KANG
DECEMBER 4: THE TINDER BOX – KATE ELLIOTT
DECEMBER 5: BABYCAKES – NEIL GAIMAN
DECEMBER 6: HIS MIDDLE NAME WAS NOT JESUS – NOVIOLET BULAWAYO
DECEMBER 7: SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE – LILLI CARRÉ
DECEMBER 8: DARK TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 9: DARKER TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 10: BREAK – MISHELL BAKER
DECEMBER 11: A RUMOR OF ANGELS – DALE BAILEY
DECEMBER 12: THE ENGLISHMAN – DOUGLAS STUART
DECEMBER 13: IT CAME FROM CRUDEN FARM – MAX BARRY
DECEMBER 14: NO MOON AND FLAT CALM – ELIZABETH BEAR
DECEMBER 15: A STUDY IN SHADOWS – BENJAMIN PERCY
DECEMBER 16: ART APPRECIATION – FIONA MCFARLANE
DECEMBER 17: THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS – SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA
DECEMBER 18: WE HAVEN’T GOT THERE YET – HARRY TURTLEDOVE
DECEMBER 19: THE DUNE – STEPHEN KING
DECEMBER 20: THE WORTHINGTON – EMILY CARROLL
DECEMBER 21: SUNBLEACHED – NATHAN BALLINGRUD
DECEMBER 22: BLOOD DAUGHTER – MATTHEW LYONS
DECEMBER 23: THE LINE – AMOR TOWLES
DECEMBER 24: PIGEONS – NIBEDITA SEN
DECEMBER 25: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED, WHAT WE WILL FORGET, WHAT WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FORGET – EUGENE LIM
DECEMBER 26: ONE/ZERO – KATHLEEN ANN GOONAN
DECEMBER 27: MATINÉE – ROBERT COOVER
DECEMBER 28: ACCESS – ANDY WEIR
DECEMBER 30: HOOK – DANIELLE MCLAUGHLIN
DECEMBER 31: HE’S VERY WELL READ – CATHERINE LACEY
previous years’ advent calendars (what’s left of ’em):