Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stories from Playboy magazine, 2007 issues

List below is by quality - best first. My rating (ABC: A = time well spent; C = don't bother) is in brackets. Unless mentioned otherwise, stories are from US edition of the magazine.

April author, Nadine Gordimer, is 1991 literature Nobel laureate.

Note that while they sometimes publish very good genre stories, most of their stories are non-genre.
  1. September: Tobias Wolff's "A Mature Student" (A): Outstanding story on the psychology & environment that create torturing soldiers - of the kind that were in news some time back in US military's torture camps in Iraq & Afghanistan.
  2. October: David James Poissant's "Lizard Man" (A): Not very uncommon rift between father & adolescent son that will lead to their never speaking in later life. Story has two cases - one where the rift is there till father's death; second where the dad is initiating patch up steps. Also included is a completely tangent subplot of rescuing an alligator.
  3. May: Edward Falco's "Winter Storms" (B): This is a dark political story about US occupation of Iraq. A US journalist who won't toe the official line of US Army is, in a way, handed over to jihadis. She saves herself by compromising the US spy who did her in, inadvertently also getting 3 little children killed. Now she's both nursing a guilt about killed children, & is fearful US authorities will consider her act treason.

    That's about the first half of the story. Second half just drags on pointlessly, adding word count but not anything else to the story.
  4. June: Woody Allen's "This Nib For Hire" (B); humor: A charlatan claiming to be a big shot film producer entices a novelist with one published book to novelize his C-grade movie "about spending the night in a haunted house." Wastes author's time for a couple of days, then vanishes. Funny parts of the story are in the way producer approaches the project. Very short & light read.
  5. March: J Robert Lennon's "Zombie Dan" (B); science fiction: When technology to revive the dead became available, it had some side effects too!
  6. OK if you don't have anything better to do December: Stephen King's "Mute" (B): A lonely woman in her 50s, married 24 years with a daughter in college & husband mostly on tour, gets into an affair. And into blowing money with this boyfriend, a man of 60 - on lotteries, lingerie, shoes, ... Funds for this activity come by stealing her office funds. She has stolen $120 thousand over a 2 year period, & is about to be caught. That is when her husband learns of affair & embezzlement.

    Soon, the wife will be living with her boyfriend in a motel. The man relieves his pent up story to a deaf/mute hitchhiker bum now asleep in his car - since the guy cannot really hear. Only, he can. Bum has been in & out of mental institutions over the years. A while later, the man will learn the hitchhiker has murdered his wife & her boyfriend, apparently out of gratitude for the ride!
  7. OK if you don't have anything better to do August: Jess Walter's "We Live In Water" (B): A crook about to be murdered by a gang of toughs has some emotional moments with his son before his death. You might like it if you like violent ghetto stories; it's not my kind.
  8. Time waster April: Nadine Gordimer's "The Third Sense" (C): An entrepreneur in recently opened economy of a third world country has lost heart when forced to shut shop by changed government regulations. Story is of his fall & some half-hearted attempt to keep his dignity - told via the musings of his wife, & her sensing of his infidelity. And of their long marriage troubled by the event, but saved.
  9. Time waster November: Sam Lipsyte's "The Gunderson Prophecy" (C): humor. Senseless life-story of a playboy & charlatan with family name of Gunderson. He is sort of convinced the world is about to end in 6 years ... oops, in a few months, etc. Wants to use this prophecy racket to earn some money - via lectures, TV shows, etc. Just when he has managed the promise of some cash from a rich benefactor, sky falls - at least on him! There are occasional references to holographic avatars & outer planets, but is generally non-genre.
  10. Time waster February: Denis Johnson's "The Starlight on Idaho" (C): Description of a family of criminals & maladjusted characters. Narrator is Mark Cassandra - in a rehabilitation center because of alcohol addiction, & story is in the form of a series of often imaginary letters to various people (including to Pope, Satan, & I think god himself too!) Title of the story comes from the name of rehab center: Starlight Addiction Recovery Center, Idaho Avenue, Ukiah, California.
  11. July: Jamie Malanowski's "State of the Union": Not read.
  12. January: Walter Mosley's "The Myth of Sisypha": Not read.
Related: All Playboy stories. Or only from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, or 2008 issues.