Lately I’ve been reading mostly short fiction; this is both because I’ve had all these pockets of free in-between time (between classes, between my dad’s hospitalizations) and because I’ve been gearing up for a lot of short fiction things I’ve been working on and it’s always helpful to read stuff that is in the same form as what you’re writing.
1. People Like That Are The Only People Here by Lorrie Moore
I really like Lorrie Moore’s language (although that can be said for all of the people on this list, I guess). For example, the first few lines from this story go like this:
“A beginning, an end: there seems to be neither. The whole thing is like a cloud that just lands and everywhere inside it is full of rain. A start: the Mother finds a clot in the baby’s diaper. What is the story? Who put this there? It is big and bright, with a broken khaki-colored vein in it.”
The way that the first sentence is written is so that it, like the message it conveys, also has no beginning or end. It’s concise but emotive, simple but not lazy (far from it). ❤ Plus the entire story hit super close to home–it’s about an ill baby and hospital life, basically–because my dad is always in and out of the hospital and it conveys the feeling of being trapped in a sanitized state of forced hopefulness very, very well.
This story is part of an anthology of O’Henry Prize stories that I picked up from the booksale thing on the ground floor of UM (University Mall), Taft Ave.
2. True Trash by Margaret Atwood
This is in the collection of short stories called Wilderness Tips. One of the interesting things about Margaret Atwood and her writing is that she’s written so much: this story was published in the early 90s and it’s very different from her more recent stories (like the stories in Moral Disorder for example) not in feel so much as in content. Her later stories always feel like a looking back or a looking into the self whereas this feels like you’re looking out (haha) into something. This story takes place at a boys’ camp and I love how adolescence is portrayed in this story–it’s silly and sad and has a great deal to do with forgetting/leaving behind.
3. Panic by Joyce Carol Oates
This is from her collection Dear Husband, and I liked it because I think it was the perfect first short story for that collection. I’m (more than a little) obsessive-compulsive about sequencing: I like listening to albums in the order the artists have arranged them in and same goes for compiled short stories. This sets the tone for the entire book in that it talks about a lot of domestic dread in a very quietly violent way.
4. Affection by Donald Barthelme
Okay. Uhh. The thing is that I want to be Donald Barthelme. Of all the stories here this is probably the one that I viscerally gravitate to the most. I like the language, I like the fragmented form, the sense that makes no sense.
5. Like Animals by Kelly Link
This is the perfect type of creepy–creepy punctuated with mundane fixtures, and rabbits.