I hope you all found some great short stories to read in May! In addition to what those I wrote about here, I have a few more to mention:
“The Fat Girl” by Andre Dubus is one of my favorite stories of all time. It chronicles Louise’s struggle with her weight through childhood, college, marriage, and motherhood, and Dubus perfectly captures how all-consuming the obsessions of weight and body can be. The tagline for this story could be “Inside every unhappy fat girl is an equally unhappy skinny girl.”
Barb Johnson’s title story More of This World or Maybe Another captures the crazy excitement of being attracted to someone for the first time, and the heart-thumping hope you have as a teenager that something new is about to happen right now. Or now. Or maybe now.
Charles Baxter has long been my go-to for favorite stories. “The Cousins,” originally published in Tin House and reprinted in Best American, showcases what I consider one of his greatest talents: complete honesty from a character who is willing to let us see the worst, even when the worst, given the stretches of humanity, isn’t all that terrible. Not that that lessens the blow. “I haven’t always behaved well when people open their hearts to me.”
I found “The Land of Motionless Childhood” by Joseph O’Malley in the most recent issue of Colorado Review, one of my favorite literary journals. It asks some big questions: is hope just for children? What about laughter? Happiness? One of my favorite moments is when the main character, Kenny, realizes his friend is dating a girl who’s a dud. “Kenny had seen couples who seemed wholly mismatched before, but usually it was the woman who was the open, funny, and vivacious one, and the man who was the dry, humorless drudge.” I laughed when I read that. I know those couples! And he’s right, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it in the reverse. I love when a story perfectly captures something I’ve long thought but haven’t realized.
“Tandolfo the Great” by Richard Bausch was originally written for the anthology The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, where all the authors need to include exactly that. Add to that an unhappy clown with a drinking problem and a five-year-old’s birthday party and you’ve got classic Bausch pathos and humor.
“Lambing Season” by Molly Gloss is another sci-fi story recommended by my good friend, Dennis Loranger. I will read whatever this guy tells me. It’s a beautiful story about solitude, perseverance, the connections between humans and animals, and aliens.
I finished up the month with “Projection” by Michael Nye from his collection Strategies Against Extinction. “Projection” totally captures what it’s like to be in college and trapped back in your small hometown for the summer, something I knew a thing or two about back in the day. I never blew up the water tower, but Jesus, did I want to.
I’m already looking forward to next May! In the meantime, any recommendations?