Monday, October 26, 2015

MMRM: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" and "Miriam"

'Tis the season for the unearthly, the undead, and the downright macabre. Not everyone can read an entire book in time for Halloween- some of us are too busy with other books, or even other things (gasp). For those poor souls, I offer these reviews: I will be writing my thoughts on some of my favorite short stories for this spooky season, either one at a time or in pairs.

Previous Mini Macabre Review Mondays:
#5: "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood
#6: "The Bodysnatcher" and "A Terribly Strange Bed"

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" by Joyce Carol Oates

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Great)
Content: Ages 16+ for implied sexual content.
Page Count: 9 pages in PDF form
Year Published: 1966

An interesting and chilling story inspired by a Bob Dylan song? I was intrigued by the concept, so naturally I had to read and review it for MMRM. The setup makes you feel like you've taken a time machine back to the 1950s era, with neon lights, diner joints, and rock'n'roll music included. While it is engaging, it isn't precisely riveting, as you might be able to guess from what little of the storyline I was able to summarize the plot with.

The Plot: A girl spends her Sunday alone while her parents go to a party.

Oddly enough, this short story even has a movie based on it, much like Daphne du Maurier's The Birds. It is safe to say I'd never heard of Smooth Talk prior to reading this short story's Wikipedia page. Also, it's hard to believe this story was enough to make a movie out of, but considering the lack of inspiration in Hollywood these days...

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" may scare the living bejeezus out of some people, but in this case, I'm not part of 'some people'. I think I've earned a degree in jadedness from watching tv shows, or even the national news. I'm sure in 1966 this may have been cutting edge, but I felt a bit disappointed when this story ended, though not for lack of good writing.

"Miriam” Truman Capote

Available to read for free, online here. 
Rating: 4 Stars
Content: Nothing much to object to other than good manners.
Page Count: 40 pages
Year Published: 1945

This is a much more unexpected creepy story. How could a plot so innocuous end up so scary? I'm afraid to say much more about the plot because it's better left spoiler-free. However, it creeped me out much more than the previous story, without even having to resort to innuendos.

The Plot: A lonely widow meets a lonely little girl at the movies.

The less I write about this story the better, but I must say it sneaks up on you. You don't realize it's scary until it's clearly 'scary'- there is no turning back at that point.

"Miriam" is creepy in the way that hearing footsteps behind you when you walk home is creepy. I see more movie potential in this little short story than many of the others I've read for Mini Macabre Review Monday, but this one doesn't have a movie (yet). If you don't mind locking your doors every time you see a towheaded little girl outside, I recommend reading this short story.

None of the short stories I chose for review tickle your fancy? Here's a link to Flavorwire's 50 Scariest Short Stories of All Time list. I probably don't agree with all of them, but I did find a few that became Mini Macabre Review Monday fodder.

Mini Macabre Review Monday Link-up (For Those Who Wish to Participate in this Feature)

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