Sunday, March 10, 2013

Honeydew, Edith Pearlman #33

Honeydew
Edith Pearlman
From Best American Short Stories, 2012
Originally appeared in Orion
#33 in the I read and take brief notes on 300 short stories series

A private day school and a forbidden ravine and a centruy-old suicide get mentioned in the first paragraph.

The headmistress, Alice, is perturbed by a superb but anorexic student named Emily; her anger is such that we are told that "this tall bundle of a twigs that called itself a girl--Alice's palms ached to spank her." Alice meets with parents; the father is a detached physician who scolds Alice and the wife: "Emily must find her own way to continue to live," which the narrator tells us is "useful and true."

Alice is pregnant by Emily's father, the physician. He will not leave his wife.

Manna is described as being excrement, called by nomads "honeydew." Emily is fascinated by this concept.

The biological lives of insects is the thread that holds the story together. It's surreal and satirical.


North Country, Roxane Gay #32

North Country
Roxane Gay
From Best American Short Stories, 2012
Originally printed in Hobart
#32 in the I will read and take brief notes on 300 short stories project

A faculty engineer named Kate embarks on a sad cruise of Lake Superior with a less than desirable set of colleagues. She is African-American, and must endure questions like, "Are you from Detroit?" She tells us, "Shortly after that, I will begin telling people I have recently arrived from Africa. They will nod and exhale excitedly and ask about my tribe. I don't know that in this moment, so there is little to comfort me." She meets Magnus as she comes to the deck for air.

Loneliness is pervasive in North Country. Kate despairs the life of the town. She tells her mother more than once that she might not survive. She has a one-night encounter with Magnus; he seems very interested in her but she pushes him away.

Kate remembers being with a liar, her dissertation advisor, the father of their stillborn baby.

She finds her way to Magnus and he is persistent and ignores her reluctance. He teaches her to milk a cow. There is separation, hurt feelings, an igloo. It's beautiful.

"Hello, Everybody" AM Homes #31

"Hello, Everybody"
A.M. Homes
From Electric Literature, Volume 5, #1
Kindle Single
#31 in the 300 short story project

Like the characters in Homes' May We Be Forgiven, the characters in this story are hyper-contemporary. They are late-adolescent and have intellectualized tattoos, body logo branding, acne, and psychotherapy. The girl, Cheryl, has a family that lives in bathing suits, is addicted to plastic surgery, and has a dog named "Rug." The mother had a failed operation to change the color of her eyes. They eat in restaurants with names like Micro-Macro, where they are served "Tiny designer-sized macrobiotic bites." Walter is Cheryl's best friend, a fish out of water who's been away at school for awhile and comes back to visit the family.

It has a surreal George Saunders vibe, parody, satire, a depressing commentary on modern, detached, artificial life.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Creatures, Marisa Silver #30

Creatures
Marisa Silver
From the 12/17/12 New Yorker
30# in the I will read and take brief notes on 300 short stories series

The story of James, a father, angrily dealing with the perception on the part of a nursery school that his son Miles is dangerous. Weaving from the present to James's childhood, when he is part of a terrible accident involving a hunting rifle and a very stuffed-up friend named Freddy, who is tormented by his father. There is a lot of lashing out and passive aggression.