Tag Archive for short story month

Short Story Month recap

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?




Short story month update

I’ve been reading some great stories this month in celebration of Short Story Month! (And is it wrong that I want to gloat we get a longer month than poetry?) Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Holly Goddard Jones‘s “Life Expectancy” from her collection Girl Trouble. The main character has a sick daughter, a pregnant girlfriend/student, an unhappy wife, and a dead dog, but is stubbornly convinced none of these things are his fault. When he kisses his student the first time he thinks, “He did it because she looked like she needed it. He did it because he knew he could get away with it.” That about sums up Theo. Goddard Jones does a great job creating an unsympathetic character the reader can get behind. I’m looking forward to the rest of the stories in this collection!

“Amber at the Window in Hurricane Season” by Justin Taylor, from Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever (a great title!). Favorite passage: There’s always a new worst.”

Lydia Peelle‘s “Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing,” is a beautiful story about a depressed woman who falls for a herpetologist and learns life lessons from a salamander. Sometimes what we need is to turn off our brains and remember we are part of nature. “Trust the body, not the mind, he says, smiling. The body loves itself.”

“Bears Discover Fire” by Terry Bisson. You can read the story here. It’s pretty true to the title, bears really do discover fire, but the heart of the story is a man coming to terms with his mother’s decline. I’m a sucker for stories with animals, especially when they’re doing something as cool as hanging around campfires in the road medians, and the way this is handled, as kind of ho-hum, is brilliant.

“Nothing Right” by Antonya Nelson, from Nothing Right. In this story a fractured family holds a premature baby as collateral damage, acting out their own aggressions against each other with little sense of repercussions. If you haven’t read her work, this is a great introduction!

“Bear Hogan Walks the Sky” by Brady Allen in Back Roads & Frontal Lobes. This story is weird, and that’s a good thing. It’s an end of the world/end of the road story that contemplates what it means to be good or bad, and how similar these things can look when shit hits the fan. Brady and I teach together at Wright State and have a lot of chats about fiction writing, and he’s someone I admire for being as disciplined as he is with his writing.

“The Chair” by David Means, in Best American Short Stories 2013. It’s about parenting, and maybe it’s because I have a child the same age as the child in the story, and maybe it’s because I’m also struggling with how to effectively discipline said child, but this one really struck a chord. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Means before, which is crazy since he’s got four highly acclaimed story collections and seems to be kind of a big deal. He’s now on the list.


Short story month

Did you know that May is Short Story Month? I had no idea! And as a lover of short stories, I hate to think I’ve been missing out on this celebration. What else have I been missing out on? Is there a Cake Month? Too Many Exclamations in Email Month? Boots for Girls with Big Calves Month? My god, have you people been celebrating Things Erin Doesn’t Know About without me?

To honor Short Story Month, I’m going to try and read a short story a day. I’ll do periodic updates here about what I’m reading, but for daily doses, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.