Monthly Archives: August 2006

Aimee Bender, "Death Watch"

Ten men are told they’re going to die. Some get angry. Some get sad. Some get proactive.

(from Willful Creatures)

He has flown by now to Greece and is trying finally to have a relationship. With only a couple of weeks left, he thinks that for once he has a good chance of having someone by his bedside when he dies.

This is on of those neat, pretty fable-icious stories, where people don’t get names and whole huge things they do are reduced to short, simple sentences. It really works for this story. It’s fast-paced, funny and sad. Read it here yourself. I’m no Opium or anything, but I think it’ll take you about five minutes to read.

I don’t have a links page here, but if I did I’d tell you about the Zero Sum Blog. L.M. is in the system, trying to work her way out.

Dominic Smith, "Whitmore, 1969"

Driving with his big brother just back from Vietnam, trying to make sense of things.

(from The Atlantic Fiction Issue 2006)

This was the summer of 1969. Men were getting ready to land on the moon. The girls I knew wore slacks and smelled of sandalwood and cherry vodka. You could fit the whole world inside an album cover.

It’s a familiar scene, seemingly. Driving lonely highways during the other summer of love. Looking for love. Smoking weed. Listening to Dylan. Dealing with Vietnam in the family. Watching the moon landing on TV. This story chose some of the easiest, most familiar centerpieces around which to set its action and still made it new and powerful. Surpisingly so. Not Wonder Years at all, except for the nostalgia trippin’. The mood, the characters — it really sucked me in. I started reading thinking I’d finish it tomorrow. Now it’s got me awake and writing about it. You should read it. It’s excellent. It even sports one of those classic future tense epilogues I’ve grown so fond of.
Here‘s the first couple paragraphs. You’ll have to buy it to read the rest.
Here’s a link to Dominic Smith‘s site.

I promise to try to read a new story every day, in order from this the second annual Atlantic Fiction Issue, if you promise to check back in. What? You won’t promise. Fine, neither will I.

David Samuel Levinson, "Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will"

Glen can’t get over what happened with Steven. Can anyone ever get over anything?

(from Gloss)

First off I should say that the title is awesome. Where Are We People Like That Are Going Against Their Will Here? It’s very classic modern, very catchy. The story however didn’t do much for me. I must be missing something — this story got some kinda honorable mention from Atlantic Monthly, back when it published fiction, and Levinson appears to be accomplished in this and that. I dunno. I found the prose a little heavy-handed and clunky, the sentences a bit messy. The plot was interesting enough, though. I bet I’m wrong. Here, you read it.