Monthly Archives: August 2005

Vu Tran, "The Other Country"

Hanging out in the house of the old man who commited suicide.

(from Harvard Review, issue 28)

Scary, man. There’s a very cinematically spooky moment, and some other, smaller, less meaningful ones, that make this a kind of wide-eyed ghost story. I don’t want to spoil it.
I like the unique way the characters speak to each other, sort of melodramatic and weighty. The narration is that way too, fearless in its intellectual and abstract ponderings. Check it:
My mother once told me that people sleep to dream their lives all over again, so perhaps Vinh’s dream was one of imminence, his brother’s death merely the finality to a loss he had accepted long ago.
See, it’s like that a lot. But also engaging and surprising.

Amy Hempel, "Reference 388475858-5"

A letter the the Parking Violation Bureau to complain about an obscured plate ticket, and more.

(from Ontario Review, No. 62)

In the grand tradition of short stories posed as formal letters, this is funny and satirical. This one has an interesting variation on that, in that it wanders in a thoughtful way. Our protagonist, the letter writer, is really writing about confrontation — dealing with it physically, understanding shaking as a natural reaction.
Amy Hempel, am I right people?

Nina Simone, “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair (Jaffa Remix)”

George Saunders, "Winky"

A brother goes to a motivational seminar to muster the courage to kick his sister out of his house, while she’s tidying things up all simple and happy.

(from Pastoralia)

The beginning is all the seminar, but it’s set up more like a fable or a cult, with awkward language. These parts are really funny and sharp. It’s the stuff I’ve come to expect from Saunders. Excellent. Ah it’s good to be reading again.
This story left me with a weird feeling, like maybe it had a kindly soul inside it. Which is, in a way, something we’re supposed to see in the brother at the end.

I’m posting again, because my oppressive work project has been, for the most part, completed. To reward myself, I went out to buy an innapropriate amount reading material (which is kinda nuts, since I already have that huge box of donated books to jump into). Here’s what I got:
Speakeasy, Summer 2005, The Arts Issue, with fiction by Agiga Zivaljevic and Shahan Sanossian. Here‘s a link.
Ontario Review, No. 62, with fiction by Amy Hempel and more. Here‘s a link.
Harvard Review, No. 28, with fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and more. Here‘s that link.
Harper’s, August 2005, with fiction by Naguib Mahfouz and an angry-making article on how the media dropped the ball in reporting voting irregularities in Ohio. Like angry in a good way. Link!
Oxford American, Summer 2005, The Music Issue, no fiction but it came with a CD. Blink.
Cabinet, No. 18, Fictional States, no actual short fiction, far as I can tell, but interesting looking pieces about I can hardly tell what. But hey, there’s a picture of Sealand, which, it seems like, everybody is talking about these days. Nice looking magazine too. Stuck inside the front cover is a letter that purports to be from the magazine’s printing company saying it will no longer correct the blunders of its editorial staff in an act of tough love. It really can’t be real, but it’s a nice touch. Go to the site, here, which has lots of stuff, including a piece on the inferred bone structures of cartoon characters.