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Short Story Month, Day 14: Stephen Graham Jones


This photo of Stephen Graham Jones has to be one of the greatest author pics of all time.

"The Night Cyclist" by Stephen Graham Jones

My friend and co-author Kathryn E. McGee reminded me of this story's existence, and I'm glad she did. There are two things that I especially love about this story. First, the similes in this are just gorgeous, somehow managing to be both refreshingly new and comfortably obvious. Two of the ones that stood out to me: " dull little nubs my pedals know like a ball knows its socket" and "I hadn’t had any accusations for her to feed on, to cultivate, to take with her and coat with saliva like a pearl."

Another thing I love about this: the details. From any other author, one richly described facet of someone's life would be enough. Had he only written with authority about the narrator's knowledge of cycling, I'd have been sold, but he also has details to spare to make the guy sound like an actual chef, not to mention an adult male still trying to figure out how to grow up, and all three facets of this man's life matter. There's a lot to get out of this story, but Stephen never overwrites or tells too much. Instead, he picks the right details to tell, their precision providing all of the background we need in a phrase or subordinate clause so that we can focus less on exposition and more on the creepiness and fun of this story—and it is horrifically good fun, so don't read this one too quickly. Enjoy the craftsmanship.

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