Monthly Archives: December 2005

I Read Short Stories This Year

Has it been a year? Yes it has, plus more. I Read A Short Story Today began December 23, 2005. It was a cold, lonely night, as I recall.
The first entry was a loose mission statement. The first story, which followed three days later, was “Should I Be Scared?” by Amanda Eyre Ward. I sort of remember it.
Things have been crazy hectic recently, so the stories have been infrequent. (I plan to rededicate myself once I’ve gotten some tasks completed.) But I’m still pleased overall with the site’s inaugural year.
Do you like stats?

Total number of posts: 225 (plus this one)
Total number of stories read: 223 (I believe)
A cursory attempt to determine the gender breakdown reveals I’ve read 132 stories by male authors, and 87 by female authors. That doesn’t add up to 223, but certainly looks like I’ve been skewing male. I’m also skewing American by a large margin, and the same probably goes for white.
I’ve referenced The Mountain Goats six times, which seems kinda low.
Despite being an Alice Munro fan, I read zero stories by her in 2005. Weird.

Sherman Alexie really is that good.
A distractingly high number of authors set their stories in New York City.
Haruki Murakami has some low lows.
Gina Ochsner, Steve Almond and Hannah Tinti make me feel so good.
Joyce Carol Oates is a sci-fi mastermind.
I enjoy post-9/11 stories of paranoia and contemplation. I also like stories about animals. Ooh, and ghosts.
George Saunders, man, I’m telling you.
The Secret Society of Demolition Writers was fun, but could have been more fun. I hope there’s a second edition.
Dave Eggers is not overrated.
I should find and read more Hannah Pittard and Wells Tower.
I have no problem with the way McSweeney’s does things, generally speaking.
Online versions of classic stories are often infected with typos.
The New Yorker doesn’t disappoint. Neither does Zoetrope All-Story. One Story has a decent batting average as well.

Thank yous: Bethy Howard, Ryan Godfrey, Jessica Lowenthal, Matt Quick, Alicia Bessette, Uncle Bob, Maura Johnston, Beth Warshaw, Matt Hotz, Nancy Armstrong, Mike Pelusi, Juliet Fletcher, Brian Howard, Lori Hill and Amy Baily for their donations, lendings, suggestions, encouraging words and conversations on the subject of short stories on a personal level. Thanks also to everybody, especially the authors and fellow literary nerds, who’s emailed with suggestions and support, or linked to the site.

Ernest J. Gaines, "Turtles"

First the dads take the boys fishing, then it’s off to the whore house!

(from Mozart and Leadbelly)

Yeah so it’s just boys fishing and, besides their utterly repulsive habit of killing the turtles they accidentally catch, this starts off like one of those little harmless rural nostalgia trip stories you read whilst eating Pepperidge Farms cookies and sipping Country Time Lemonade mixed with Bartles and James. They all the sudden it’s like ok, kid time’s up, boys. Get in there and become a man. It seems sudden and preposterous to the reader, but it’s that way for the boys, too, so I’m not calling shenanigans. It all rings true and sad and funny and all the simple adjectives a story like this is supposed to ring.

Leadbelly, “The Gallows Pole”

Jonathan Lethem, "Planet Big Zero"

Childhood chums meet back up, but things have changed.

(from Men and Cartoons)

This one had men and a cartoon.
Of course the old friends can’t just pick up where they left off, with silly jokes and a secret understanding. They’ve grown up and diverged, and yet here they are back together again. But the point of this story beyond that is a bit hazy. And that’s a pretty good thing. Over-eager attempts to verbalize or homilize would be weak and untrue. Instead, the dialogue and action are happily afloat.

Josh White, “One Meat Ball”