Monthly Archives: January 2009

Martha Wilson, "A Short Story About Nova Scotia"

This is not a short story about Nova Scotia.

(from Anderbo)

When I say that this story might be a joke, I mean that in order for it to be art or a joke, it must be public.

Yo dawg, I heard you like meta in your meta. At first I was like eh, okay, this’ll be some deconstructionistastic rabbit hole, and I was right, except for the eh, because this was actually kind of fun, even surprising. I could see this being really funny in a live setting. Just sitting here with it on my computer, it was more of a quiet intellectual exercise, and it worked that way, too.
You can read it here.
More on Martha Wilson here.
I found my way to Anderbo via this Esquire blog post on Great Online Literary Magazines.

Benjamin Nugent, "Ollie the Owl"

Jerky fratboys anger an owl monster when they stick a strap-on on it.

(from Tin House, Vol. 10, #3)

The rafters are covered with little cuts, like somebody chucked a lawnmower at the ceiling a few times.

Oh hell yes. It’s like I’ve been searching for a story like this. It’s funny, scary, fucked up, it’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, essentially, these dudes conjured up an ancient demon by being too disrespectful. It’s a frat house. The place should be crawling with monsters summoned by assholism. But it’s spooky, and I took the monster with the strap-on seriously.

Mary Miller, "Pearl"

A recently separated woman stays with her parents and tests the waters.

(from Big World)

I let him talk and talk, didn’t let on that he could bend me over right there, that I didn’t need to hear his sob story. He had no idea how small my world had become.

I loved this story, it’s weird and sad. Kinda charming, too. The trick is the sentences. They’re quick and smart. Miller really knows when to tell you and when to let the mystery linger.
And, hah, this story has a deleted scene!?

Sue Miller, "Slides"

When David and Georgia were married, he liked to take pictures of her naked. During the divorce, custody of the slides became an issue.

(from Inventing the Abbots and Other Stories)

This story was like a kick to the gut. I saw myself in all the characters. I don’t think you’ve got to get old to feel old, but it helps. If you have the chance to read this, I suggest you do, kinda late at night, when you haven’t talked to somebody for hours. Worked for me.

I bought the book used last year when a shop called Molly’s here in Philly closed down. This was the first time I opened it, and when I did, a liquor store receipt fluttered out. It’s from October 28, 2000. It’s got a name on it. I hope Judith bought the three bottles of Chardonnay, the Pinot Grigio and the Crown Royal for a Halloween party, and that she had a good time. I hope the line that says Account Balance 0.00 is merely some default setting, and that she didn’t actually spend her last $54 even on liquor at Suwannee Beverage Superstore in Northern Georgia. Or that she did and it was the right move.

Molly Gaudry, "July in Cincinnati"

He brings ice cubes to bed.

(from Dogzplot Flash Fiction)

As I often find myself doing with really short pieces, I read this one twice. I like it. It’s a woozy mix of cold and hot. There’s something heavy about it, too. The sentences run thick with words, clumps of them. Hard to think concretely about a story like this.
Read it yourself, twice, here.
Visit Molly Gaudry’s blog, here.

Damon Galgut, "The Lover"

A South African guy travels though Africa and hangs out with Europeans.

(from The Paris Review, #187)

In a few ways, this reminded me of another Damon Galgut story, “The Follower,” published in The Paris Review in 2005. (I wrote about it here.) Both stories concerned relatively wealthy white South African men traveling around with no set schedule and sparking up befuddling relationships with European men. Both, also, perform an interesting literary trick, switching between first person and third, sometimes mid-sentence, without making me wanna barf a scarf. Galgut’s got skills, and while I didn’t care much for his rare deviations into abstraction, I found myself pleased that the journey and the story kept going, page after page, country after country, in a decidedly imperfect arc. Which was perfect.
You can read a little bit of this story here.

Mary Miller, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost"

A woman starts hanging with the pathetic older man from class, in addition to her boss and a chef from the restaurant where she is a terrible waitress.

(from Big World)

Everything around him seems phallic, and I’m not sure which one of us is the pervert.

Loved this story. Mary Miller is kicking so much ass right now.

Tayari Jones, "LaKeisha and the Dirty Girl"

A girl who collects books loses one. Then she sees a similar looking book in the hands of a Dirty Girl.

(From McSweeney’s 28)

LaKeisha accuses the Dirty Girl of being a thief and has her dragged away by a cop. Turns out it’s a different book. Wah-wah. As with the rest of the little books in this collection, this is supposed to be a fable, but of course it lacks the part where the jerk learns a lesson. I think it’s best to pick one of these up every once in awhile, when I want a quick one.

Here’s Tayari Jones site.

John Edgar Wideman, "Microstories"

Lots of little stories. Duh.

(from Harper’s, Oct. 2008)

Did I read like a dozen short stories today, or none? These could easily be called vignettes, scenes, meditations, what have you. Some of them read like poetry — scattershot, pretty, wordy, jumping around between subjects and ideas, sometimes losing me or setting my brain in one direction while my eyes still go through the motions. Free from the confines of the “story” these pieces run wild, strangely theoretical then crisply material, and often worth the time brief time it takes.
Read one of them here.

Mary Miller, "Fast Trains"

A rather cold couple takes a winter vacation.

(from Big World)

He’s a slightly sad, slightly emasculated dude who likes to shoot b.b. guns and hides his coupons. She’s a slightly sad-sacking girl lady who believes she is putting up with a lot and maybe she is. They’re an interesting couple but the story was just okay.