2014 – December 25 – Morgana Malone and the Promise of 1000 Tomorrows

It’s the 25th and we’re reading “Morgana Malone and the Promise of 1000 Tomorrows” by Matt Potter.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “Fear of tinsel may be lessened with a soup of garlic and clove, though Freud claimed otherwise.”[/cryout-pullquote]

“One big fantastic time we be having,” Ludmilla says. Greasy grey-brown hair sticking out from under her bearskin hat , she sucks on her Christmas cigar . Clouds of eau de old-shoes-left-for-too-long-in-a-mouldy-wardrobe puff past my face.

“Christmas in July in June ? No!” Now Ludmilla stomps her feet on the grey paving then throws her arms out like she’s about to break into a show tune. “No no no! Christmas in Continue reading

2014 – December 24 – Noel

On the 24th we’re reading “Noel” by Teresa Burns Gunther.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist: “The sperm that keeps on giving.“[/cryout-pullquote]

Susie’s late as usual. I asked her last week if she wanted me to get her a date. She laughed, more like a squeal and said, “You don’t do blind dates on Christmas Eve with family!” It used to bother me the way she thought everything I said was funny, but she says making people laugh is a gift. Who knew? She tells me she’s bringing her co-star.

“The sleazy doctor?” I tsked. She has terrible taste in men, except for Steve, but he was gay and it didn’t last.

I have Continue reading

2014 – December 23 – Beautiful Day

It’s the 23rd, and time for “Beautiful Day” by Darryl Price.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “Girls are a good distraction from the sad parts of living.“[/cryout-pullquote]

It’s a beautiful day, Doc. The kind of day that makes you feel like it’s great to be alive, and that’s what’s so sad about it, I guess. I had a lot more to say to you in the lifetime, Doc, but I guess it’ll have to wait. I’m not all that good at waiting around for something to happen.

It’s always a beautiful day when I settle in to read the month’s installment of the Foggy Stardust series. I’ve presented my Continue reading

2014 – December 22 – The End

It’s the 22nd, time to read “The End” by Margaret Bingel.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper twist:  “Walking toward the warming sun has such a beautiful glow.”[/cryout-pullquote]

Nadia is sleeping next to her owner, kicking her legs as she dreams.

Ned, on the other hand, is wide awake, tapping his fingers to a tense rhythm.

Tap Tap Tap. His fingers march across his chest, like little toy soldiers.

The Small Struggle has been a rewarding read. We started out with a troubled man, smothered by his mother’s love, friendless, hopeless, about to do something destructive, likely to the children walking past his home. He slipped, suffered a concussion, a coma, came back Continue reading

2014 – December 21 – Cruisin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

On the 21st we’re reading “Cruisin’ on a Sunday Afternoon,” by Mandy Nicol.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper twist:  “Up, Up, and Away…”[/cryout-pullquote]

My heart’s racing, I’m short of breath.

I watch the clouds through the window and wish I could gulp in some fresh air . I imagine I’m walking in the bush with Peregrine who’s racing around barking at startled rabbits and cockatoos and blue tongue lizards. It doesn’t help.

The guy on my right keeps fidgeting and sighing and checking his watch. He’s not helping either.

I didn’t think I’d be like this.

I had no fear of flying.

Pins and Needles is a unique series, in that Continue reading

2014 – December 20 – Feliz Navidad

On the 20th we’re reading “Feliz Navidad” by Sally-Anne Macomber.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “Trudelein, dear, with women like you we don’t need nuclear weapons. Blow up the industry baby!“[/cryout-pullquote]

To: Milton Flaxmill, Red Cow Publishing

From: Trudy Polaris

Date: December 20, 2014 10.19 p.m.

Re: Peek-a-boo

Øslø was a bust! How was I to know they give the Peace Prize in Øslø, and all the other Nobel Prizes in Støckhølm!? So I missed out, completely. Maybe next year will be better for me. I heard on the street and also in the corridors of the King Kristian XVII Hotel and then again on the ferry across the Øslø Continue reading

2014 – December 19 – Families

It’s the 19th, time for “Familes” by Gay Degani.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “At last always beats never.”[/cryout-pullquote]

On the creek side of the Old Road, the sun dips behind the wild growth of the arroyo and hills beyond , cooling the warm California afternoon. Jamie, sitting across from Gus German on the porch of his bungalow, stops shuffling cards, places them on the small table, and zips up her sweatshirt. She glances over at Lily and Collin, her two little kids rolling down the knoll of dirt and weeds where their bungalow used to stand before a giant oak , uprooted by 100 mile an hour winds, smashed Continue reading

2014 – December 18 – Flow

The 18th brings “Flow” by Stephen V. Ramey (reviewed by Andrew Stancek).

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “It will be the year of years.”[/cryout-pullquote]

The room is like a cathedral, dark panels, painted ceilings, brass everywhere. A polished bar runs the back half of one wall, bottles stacked along the mirror behind it. The tap is a glory of levers and logos.

You might wonder how Lanigan’s Irish Pub ended up in a place like New Castle, with its Italian tradition and economic woes. While you’re at it, you might wonder how a 50-something guy who never drank much, never smoked, was reasonably athletic, ended up with aggressive prostate cancer. Continue reading

2014 – December 17 – What it Feels Like to Have Your Friends Dying Around You

It’s the 17th and we’re reading “What it Feels Like to Have Your Friends Dying Around You” by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper twist: “A speck of sunshine can change our mind about many things.”)[/cryout-pullquote]

Mora makes her way across the parking lot to the front door of Kelly’s, all the while telling herself to go elsewhere. At the threshold, she stops and gives the idea serious consideration.

“But I promised Aaron,” she says aloud, her words a whispered white breath in the cold air.

She pulls the door open.

The Suicide Club reminds me a bit of early Coen Brothers works, in that it knows how to balance light and dark in interesting ways. Dollops of Continue reading

2014 – December 16 – Alive and Kicking

It’s the 16th, and we’re reading “Alive and Kicking” by James Claffey.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist: “The river runs through it.”[/cryout-pullquote]

The Shannon burst its banks a week ago and sheep, cattle and the odd goat float bloated and lost in the middle of Ireland’s great start-up lake. Farmers wring their hands in McKettrick’s snug, drowning their sorrows and totting up the EU compensation they’ll collect in the New Year.

As an engineering student back in the day I learned an enduring lesson. No matter how we gird our creations against it, pressure will always win. We might temporarily hold it at bay, but force steadily applied will eventually Continue reading