Short Story of the Day

Short Story of the Day – Day 27

Shelly Oria’s “New York 1, Tel Aviv 0”

Shelly Oria story

Day Twenty-Seven

“We look like two friends at a lit event, not like two-thirds of a three-way couple.”

As the end of January comes to a close, I’m quickly wrapping up the books I’ve started for 2016. Shelly Oria’s short story collection, New York 1, Tel Aviv O has been on my TBR list since last year but at last, enough was enough and I’ve pulled it as my next read.

The first story in the collection, and with the same title as the book, “New York 1, Tel Aviv 0” is a story of carefully constructed characters involved in a three-way affair. I’m prone to give away further details and possibly ruining the major plot so I’ll just leave it at that, for now…

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Short Story of the Day – Day 26

Claire Vaye Watkins’ “The Last Thing We Need”

Claire Vaye Watkins

“Sometimes a person wants a part of you that’s no good. Sometimes love is a wound that opens and closes, opens and closes, all our lives.”

Day Twenty-Six

Claire Vaye Watkins. Battleborn. Riverhead Books. Enough said.

If there’s a short story collection that I’ll keep in my arsenal of recommendations, Watkins’ Battleborn is definitely one. If you can also get the audio version of her collection you’ll be doing yourself a favor just like I did =]

Claire Vaye Watkins is also a writer that, I feel, hasn’t received as much attention as she should have, with the latest, a novel, Gold Fame Citrus, briefly gaining momentum after it’s month of release. Truth be told, I haven’t read her novel myself, yet, but I plan on doing so ASAP.

Battleborn had a lot of great stories, stories I plan on mentioning in future posts so definitely stay tuned for those!

Short Story of the Day – Day 25

Virginia Woolf’s “In the Orchard”

In the Orchard

Day Twenty-Five

So Monday, January 25th was Virginia Woolf’s birthday so in her honor, I knew that day’s post just had to be one of her short stories. And thanks to Literary Hub, I was directed to just the right one to celebrate such an incredible writer – the best of all time, according to some!

First published in The Criterion (1923), one of the first things I noticed in this story was how the repetitive structure that surrounds it is similar in external events but differs in what is being told or focused.

Consisting of three parts, Virginia Woolf goes about highlighting different perspectives to make up the story. Each part starts with the same phrase: “Miranda slept in the orchard..” The story starts off with an emphasis on sounds, then wanders into Miranda’s thoughts about herself in relationship to the world. It ends with an account of the orchard space itself and on the relationship between the air and earth.

P.S. It’s said that this was one of Virginia Woolf’s experimental stories, her take on literary cubism (where the same scene is viewed from different perspectives). Pretty cool!

Short Story of the Day – Day 24

Aria Beth Sloss’ “North”

North

Day Twenty-Four

“When I was younger, and thought love was something the world owed you, I had to hide in my room when I wanted to cry over it, this great unfairness.”

Another recommendation that I got from my fiction class was reading Sloss’ story “North”, justly found in The Best American Short Stories 2015. This story explored the relationship between an adventurous father, stubbornly passionate about venturing to the North Pole, and his wife, whom he eventually leaves to conform with a loneliness that creeps along until it strikes as “sudden as a storm.”

Memorable scene:

“One evening, when my father finally emerges from one of his marathon swims, the sun hits him from behind just so; he is golden, glowing. The light is so strong it has the peculiar effect of drawing a second, shimmering man around the first, as though my father has doubled himself, gone into the water and emerged with a twin.”

Short Story of the Day – Day 23

James Joyce’s “The Dead”

The Dead

Day Twenty-Three

So I’m a couple of posts behind, something I’ve dreaded and knew I would succumb to along the year. Hoping it’s just a stumble along the journey. Nevertheless, I’ve returned to make them up…

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, father westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gatge, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

-last couple of sentences of James Joyce’s The Dead

Saturday’s story was specifically chosen for the blizzard that made its way in the tri-state area, hitting the city pretty hard in all five boroughs. It actually was brought up as a recommended read by a fellow peer of mine in my fiction class and that’s when I realized that, somehow, I’ve managed to avoid Joyce’s last story in Dubliners. Whaaaaaaat?

So I got on it and boy was I glad I finally did =]

Dubliners by James Joyce

I had an older copy, but I just had to get this Centennial Edition

 

This story is full of memorable characters and the dynamic relationships they all had to each other made for a great reading. Set at the Misses Morkan’s annual dance, they all had moments that brought them to life, to the spotlight, and provided brief glimpses at their pasts as well.

“The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.”

Lines like the above one, from Lily, shine bright throughout the story. This one foreshadows in a way Gabriel’s eventual speech and his feverous desire for his wife, Gretta, at the end of the story.

Another scene that caught my attention was that between Gabriel and Miss Ivors as she requests him on to go on an excursion to the Aran Isles for the summer:

“–And haven’t you your own land to visit, continued Miss Ivors, that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?

 –O, to tell you the truth, retorted Gabriel suddenly, I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!

 –Why? asked Miss Ivors.

 Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.

 –Why? repeated Miss Ivors.

 They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered her, Miss Ivors said warmly:

 –Of course, you’ve no answer.

^Damn…shut down. Gabriel definitely is one of the story’s most internally conflicted characters as well.

And of course, what’s there to say about the final discussion in the story between Gabriel and Gretta?

“–I think he died for me, she answered.

So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life…Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

Short Story of the Day – Day 22

Alice Munro’s “Wild Swans”

Alice Munro's short story

Day Twenty-two

Don’t you love it when books have mentions of other books or famous works? Sometimes I might have heard of them but more often than not, they’re new, and they offer a great opportunity to explore and experience them first hand.

I just finished Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts a couple of days ago and needless to say, it was brilliant. She talks about life’s intimacies, queer love, sex, and motherhood in such an honest and intelligent manner – it’s a style I’ve fallen in love with ever since reading Bluets, and I thank her for it. I definitely recommend reading those two books.

But I digress.

To tie this all up, today’s short story selection is mentioned in Nelson’s book, as she mentions literature that “blew through [her] penis-corn-addled mind and swept it clean” (66). As she confronts the issue of “female sexuality” while growing up, she recalls her high school teacher’s assignment of Munro’s story. She continues:

“In just a few short pages, Munro lays it all out: how the force of one’s adolescent curiosity and incipient lust often must war with the need to protect oneself from disgusting and wicked violators, how pleasure can coexist with awful degradation without meaning the degradation was justified or a species of wish fulfillment; how it feels to be both accomplice and victim; and how such ambivalences can live on in an adult sexual life…” (66-67)

Alice Munro’s “Wild Swans” turns out to be just that and much more as I soon read for myself…

Short Story of the Day – Day 21

Amber Sparks’ “Some Of Our More Useful Planets”

“Most planets are destined to be sad, to be beautiful and useless…Some days they feel winged and worn like ancient birds, other days like the kind of miners that crack open the ground and peer inside. Diamonds are not hard for them to produce, but who needs diamonds in this age of digital metals?”

Day Twenty-One

In anticipation of Amber Sparks’ latest collection of stories, The Unfinished World and Other Stories, I’ve come across a quick short which I would say, shows vintage Sparks: “endlessly inventive, thrillingly imaginative, [and] utterly assured” as Laura van den Berg speaks of highly.

This story is available online from two places: Atticus Review and Stoked: Vol. 1, so pick and choose.

Sparks reads the story herself, an option available via Stoked Journal’s SoundCloud.