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2016 Stories 62-63

Still playing catch-up to what I've read. These two stories are from the anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 4 (in which, full disclosure, my short story "Yeti" appears). I haven't read the whole book yet.

62. BUBBLEGUM by Troy Blackford.  Blackford, who also edited the book, here spins a delightfully bizarro story of expanding, almost living bubblegum used as a way to trap victims for a mentally disturbed young man who is himself a prisoner. The story starts with a disturbing scene on a woman's front porch and just gets weirder, and more violent, as it goes along. Definitely one of those stories that makes you say "WTF" and "What is he going to do next?" in alternating breaths.

63. AUTOMATIC WRITING by Justin Bloch.  Bloch gives us one of the longer tales in the book, narrated in the first person by a well-known writer now potentially living through his own ghost story. Or maybe not -- I like the way Bloch really leaves most of the story open to interpretation as to whether the writer, who has suffered a tragic loss, is being haunted or not. It's a wistful story, full of love and regret and hope and our human penchant for looking for signs all around us.

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