Monthly Archives: December 2007

Maud Casey, "Pheromones"

It was a time of interesting smells.

(from American Short Fiction, Vol. 10, issue 39)

She looked fierce and knowledgeable, like she’d been through a war.

Smart, funny little story of sexual awakening. I really dug the pop culture references (some overt, some so light as to seem unintentional) and short attention-spanned characters.
Here‘s more info about Maud Casey.

Reasons I haven’t posted in so long. Choose only one.
1. I was reading What is the What which is the awesome.
2. I wanted to let it linger that I’d actually gotten a short story published.
3. Work.
4. I was writing this tiny short story review round-up thing.
5. I was working on CP’s Top 21 Albums of 2007.
6. I was putting I Read A Short Story Today on Facebook. I don’t know if there’s a way to send a link, and I think it’s lame that I had to put the account under the name Ireada Short Story Today. But whatever, be my friend on there.

Patrick Rapa, "Every Creeping Thing of the Earth"

A guy takes an internship with a cattle mutilator.

(from Pindeldyboz)

No, I’m not going to write up my own story but I wanted to let you know, you mysterious readers who find my page by Googling strange things, that in the final print/not print issue of revered NYC litmag Pindeldyboz you can find my first ever published short story. The journal ran out of cash when it came time to print, so they turned the things into a nicely laid out pdf which you can download and print yourself, if you please. Last night I went up to New York City to read a bit of it, and listen to other authors read their stuff. Much thanks to editors Krisitin McGonigle and Whitney Pastorek and everybody.
So yeah, after three years of critiquing the short fiction of others, I have finally opened myself up for a return volley. The hunter has become the hunted. The falcon has become the falconer.
Go here to download it. Tell me what you think.

Andrew O’Hagan, "Gordon"

Gordon’s life, separated into 8 easy to read nuggets.

(from The Book of Other People)

Short and interesting. I liked it well enough.
I read this on the Chinatown bus to New York.

NEWSFLASH: A review sent to me by Peter Hansen, a Stephen King fan from Denmark, has been added to my writeup on the King story “Ayana.” It’s huge! Check it out!

Z.Z. Packer, "Gideon"

The condom broke.

(from The Book of Other People)

Except for a little twist, wherein our narrator does something unexpectedly cruel just to test her boyfriend, I felt like I’d read this story before, about the mismatched couple, two mostly good souls languishing in a go-nowhere relationship. The guy, of course, is some kind of talkative blowhard who doesn’t care about The Important Things In Life. The girlfriend does care, is intuitive to a superhuman level, believes herself to be The Smart One. Blah blah blah. There were some provocative, vivid images but boy was I glad when this thing was over.

Deb Olin Unferth, "La Peña"

A couple hikes up the mountain and hopes find Cokes and candles there.

(from Minor Robberies)

Quick and mysterious, this story doesn’t let you know it too well, but you’re satisfied when it’s over, nonetheless. It’s like a parable, with no discernible moral, a joke with no corny punchline. Nice.

Minor Robberies is a part of a strange little three-book set — which may be called One Hundred and Forty Five Stories In A Small Box — of tiny sudden flash short short mini midi fiction by Dave Eggers, Sarah Manguso and Unferth (who, I believe, is a frequent collaborator with Beowulf). The collection was $25, which is a lot, maybe, but I had a good feeling about it. I need more shorties in my life, something to keep in my backpack (or pocket, though the books are hardcover) for those brief moments of unexpected downtime. Plus, I’m still reading What is the What, and I’m developing a hunger for all things Eggers. The book is so good.

ALSO Matt Bell, whose site I check out every so often, has a page of things of other writers (besides himself) and, wow, it’s an amazing list of links to great short stories (and mp3s of short stories, and essays, and more). It’s sort of like a big all-star litmag or something: George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Chuck Palahniuk, Etger Keret, lots and lots.

A.L. Kennedy, "Frank"

Frank sits in a movie theater all alone.

(from The Book of Other People)

Also Frank accidentally cuts his finger while cutting up some soup ingredients and lets the blood go everywhere. It’s a brilliant scene, memorable, visceral, confusing, totally buyable. But. This story has a secret, or rather the author has a secret she didn’t see maybe fit to put into the story. Ooh a mystery. Except I didn’t figure it out. If the clues were there then I missed em, even after re-reading the obviously mysterious parts.
A.L. Kennedy has a web page.

David Mitchell, "Judith Castle"

Judith finds out her lover is dead and ponders what their life together would have been like.

(from The Book of Other People)

Well, I usually like an unreliable narrator, and this one was fine and funny, but David Mitchell telegraphed his pass, as they say, to the rimshot twist at the end was a big letdown. Overall, I didn’t find this one very entertaining. This book, edited by Zadie Smith, has promise, though, so I’ll keep it around.

Aimee Bender, "Lemonade"

Louanne and Sylvia at the mall.

(from Tin House, vol. 9, number 1)

Like she’s moving her torso but her feet don’t move, and then sometimes she’ll take one step, and it feels like a thesis statement. Like it is a topic sentence about her butt.

Louanne is the upbeat, perhaps naive but also curiously awe-inspiring hanger on. Sylvia is her inattentive and uncaring friend who uses Louanne for a ride to the mall. Jack is her boyfriend, kinda your basic young doof, except he’s probably got some kinda of triangle thing going on, him, Sylvia and mean hottie Nature. The kids are probably high school age, immature and devoid of empathy, and so they are sort of marvelous to observe through Louanne’s almost scientific (and often comic) observations. This story kick ass. It’s a topic sentence for kicking ass. Kinda.

Rikki Ducornet, "The Dickmare"

Love or sex among clams or clamlike people.

(from Tin House, vol. 9, number 1)

It all boils down to this: does she present to the Dickmare or not? She fears the lot of them, those perpetually inflated Dickmares, their uncanny magnetism matched only by their startling lack of symmetry. Yet she has been summoned. A thing as unprecedented as it is provoking.
And she has awakened with a curious rash. It circles her body like a cummerbund. A rash as florid as those coral gardens so appreciated by lovers of bijouterie. A rash having surged directly—or so she supposes—from her husband’s anomalous—or so she hopes—behavior.
Once she had thought her husband admirable. Admirable his thorny cone, his sweet horny operculum, his prowess as a swimmer, the beauty of his sudden ejections, the ease with which he righted himself when overturned. Not one to retreat into his shell, in those days his high spirits percolated throughout the yellow mud they optimistically called home.

They’re clams. I guess. Or some kind of bivalves. Ones with a mostly human language (and a vivid one at that). As to what it all means, beyond exploring some biological drive, I’m not sure. But reading it is a pleasure. Read it here.
I haven’t posted in a while, mostly cause I was working on this and read Dave Egger’s What is the What.