Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Sixty: "The End of the Party" by Graham Greene


Twin brothers prepare for a birthday party where there will inevitably be played a game of Hide and Seek in the dark. Francis Morton is deathly afraid of the darkness, of being scared in it, of the anticipation of being suddenly found with no warning or way to brace for it. For me, this was a strange short story and not what I expected from Graham Greene. It didn't have the fluidity that some of his longer works do and it also left me feeling cheated by the end when the reader discovers that Francis Morton has died from apparent shock at the hands of his brother, Peter, who was only trying to assure him, comfort him through the darkness.

Perhaps this was an exercise in imagery and foreshadowing that warrants further evaluation but I'm not sure I really want to read the story again to even try. Over all, this was a low point for me in reading short stories so far this year. Even with tones of sweetness and innocence, this piece didn't rise to the level of making me care, of making me fear right along with these young twin brothers. The story had potential...sadly, I don't feel it delivered.

Here is a link to the story online:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day Fifty-Nine: "A Diamond Guitar" by Truman Capote


An inmate arrives to a small southern prison and he brings with him a diamond faced guitar. Immediately, an older gentlemen, Mr. Schaeffer, takes to this interesting musician and they soon become lovers in addition to being friends. When the story concludes, Mr. Schaeffer is helping his young cell mate escape but he trips and breaks his ankle and doesn't make it out with his lover. Instead, he spends his days in the prison, the proud owner of the diamond guitar that was left behind, and the "hero" who tried to prevent an escape.

This story felt like it was told in the first person and it was only in the last couple of pages that I became aware of the fact that I was wrong. Capote writes it so well and with paragraphs like this, you can't help but acknowledge the genius that was his.

"Until that moment, he had not been lonesome. Now, recognizing his loneliness, he felt alive. To be alive was to remember brown rivers where the fish run, and sunlight on a lady's hair."

What a great few sentences!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Fifty-Eight: "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin

Motherhood. Transformation.

A mother finds herself in possession of extra money and contemplates how to spend it. There's enough to buy fabric to make new clothes for her children and she imagines how lovely her family would look because of her hard work and selflessness. But then, while sitting at a department store counter to make her purchase, she notices a display of silk stockings of different colors and feels.

Soon, she has purchased the stockings and then a pair of shoes and she feels great, a little bit free. She hides in the changing room and puts the stockings on, depositing her cotton ones in her shopping bag. She's a new woman. Then she has gloves fitted for her hands and she takes lunch in a quiet cafe where the women are alive and interesting and there's music in the background instead of children's calls and she feels invigorated. She ends her day at the movies where she cries and eats chocolates and becomes a woman that perhaps she has put aside or has not been able to become. Either way, when the story concludes, she is waiting for the cable car and wishing it would never have to stop, that it would carry her far away, on and on into a future that she knows she'll likely never have.

This story is a moving look at the contradictions that exist for moms and no one does it better than Kate Chopin.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day Fifty-Seven: "The Letter" by Bernard Malamud


In this story, Malamud gives the reader a look at madness, both realized and unrealized. The main character, Newman, visits his father every week in an asylum and is confronted by a resident who wants Newman to mail a letter for him. But the letter is blank. It has always blank, has been blank for years and every week the conversation ensues wherein Newman asks about the recipient of the letter and the content or rather, the letter's lack thereof.

When the story concludes, the reader is left questioning WHO it is that is mad or if anyone can be labelled that. Brilliant!!!

Week Nine Short Story Selections

Day Fifty-Seven: "The Letter" by Bernard Malamud
Day Fifty-Eight: "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin
Day Fifty-Nine: "A Diamond Guitar" by Truman Capote
Day Sixty: "The End of the Party" by Graham Greene
Day Sixty-One: "One of These Days" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Day Sixty-Two: "A Horseman in the Sky" by Ambrose Bierce
Day Sixty-Three: "A Telephone Call" by Dorothy Parker

Hitting some heavyweights this week. We'll see how they stack up!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day Fifty-Six: "The Unripe Heart" by Max Steele


In the heat of the summer of 1932, a scared little boy is asked to retrieve a newspaper that had been thrown onto the roof of his porch. Convinced, irrationally it seems, that his mother is trying to kill him when his mother joins him on the roof, he crawls back into the house through the window and locks his mother out.

As he hides across the street and watches the day pass, hears people talk about his mom and her antics, he begins to worry, about himself, his fate when he returns, but also, about his mom. The reader understands that she has been sick and can also see how it has affected her young son. It's as if he is trying to escape his home for more than the simple reason he expresses.

This story was sweet but its inclusion in the Best of the South collection of New Stories from the South, Best of the Second Decade is a bit of a surprise to me. It was an easy and fun read but....the Best? I'm not sold but I'm also not willing to give up on Steele. This story was good enough at least.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day Fifty Five: "Ramone" by Judy Troy

Family. FAMILY.

A teenage girl moves with her mom and step-dad to rural Ramone, Texas to care for the step-dad's ailing father. What we see is a family reunited in the midst of a family that has fallen apart as the teenage girl struggles to deal with the recent death of her own father.

What I liked most about this story was the setting, the way the reader sees the convenience store where they buy their groceries, the tree outside of the house where the rugs are hung and beaten clean, the blue morning sky that fills countrysides when not obstructed by highrises, skyscrapers, and smog. This story was enhanced by dialogue that was authentic and gripping without being melodramatic and it made me want to go home and hug my parents and my sisters and my cousins.

This was a WOW story for me. I'll read this one again and will read anything by Judy Troy I can find! WOW!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day Fifty-Four: "The Summer Farmer" by John Cheever


"Memory is often more appealing than fact."

This second sentence from Cheever's brilliant short story is a true foreshadowing of things to come and also a statement about the human condition. We react without thinking and we think without considering for any length of time what prejudices might cloud our thinking.

A man takes the train to his family's farm on the weekends, leaving New York behind so he can be a man of the earth for a couple of days a week, to breathe clean air, to sweat and toil over something that is truly his own and he finds that he irrationally doesn't trust his farmhand, a Russian communist hard working man, when two pet rabbits turn up dead on the farm. There's a rush to judgment, an accusation based on impulse and the story ends with the man taking the train back into town, wondering if he ever really wants to return.

He is truly a "summer farmer" and the reader sees at the story's conclusion that this man's season has passed.

WHAT AN AMAZING STORY...Cheever always leaves me a little numb but in a good way! Wow!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day Fifty-Three: "The Men in the Storm" by Stephen Crane


Literally and figuratively, this story and its cold is gripping as it depicts a group of men waiting for shelter, crowded together, a mob, some pushing and shouting, others silent and being pushed. There is desperation and hope in the eyes of the men as they inch closer and closer to the entrance of this sort of inn and its fiery inner warmth.

You get the sense when the story ends that some men might be left to the night, to the storm and its wind and snow and ferocity. I was relieved actually that the story ended when it did so I didn't have to see the deterioration of those left behind, of the ones falling just steps short of a night's sleep and of sleep's salvation.

I can't help but see the bigger picture in this short story. It's Crane through and through.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day Fifty-Two: "The Luft Bad" by Katherine Mansfield


A woman goes to a public bath house and wonders why so many half naked people there carry umbrellas, shield themselves with them, hiding their bodies, their legs. We see her self-conscious and worrisome until she is inundated with others in the bath, nosy people, pushy people, people who simply won't stop gossiping. She soon realizes that the umbrellas can be useful. She can hide from everyone else that way. Is it modesty? Insecurity? Or is it a sign of the woman's understanding of the world around her?

It's as if she is determined to show that reader that being naked doe not necessarily equate to being exposed or vulnerable. The umbrella was a nice image to convey this point in what was a very interesting read given that it was written in 1911 by the 23 year old Mansfield. As part of her collection of short stories titled "In a German Pension," this piece can still stand alone on its own merits and leave me wondering myself whether the narrator got it right after all.


New words for the day coming in at 430. I'm very proud of my progress tonight. Looking forward to more tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Week Eight Short Story Selections

So, I already finished the first two of the week but wanted to make sure I got up my list before I was too far into my week's reading so here it is:

Day Fifty: "The Rockpile" by James Baldwin
Day Fifty-One: "Election Night-1885" by Elizabeth Wiliams Cosgroves
Day Fifty-Two: "The Luft Bad" by Katherine Mansfield
Day Fifty-Three: "The Men in the Storm" by Stephen Crane
Day Fifty-Four: "The Summer Farmer" by John Cheever
Day Fifty-Five: "Ramone" by Judy Troy
Day Fifty-Six: "The Unripe Heart" by Max Steele

Day Fifty-One: "Election Night-1885" by Elizabeth Williams Cosgrove


In honor of President's Day I decided to read this short story that was first published in Prairie Schooner in 1931. The narrator recollects the night when Grover Cleveland was elected President because it's the first time she/he ever saw a man die in a saloon. Mostly though this was a fun read, a short read, and it gave me a look back which, on this day, is something I'm happy to do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day Fifty: "The Rockpile" by James Baldwin


A classic story of the fear and accompanying angst when a mom tells her child "just wait til your daddy gets home." Here, James Baldwin shows us a boy who goes out to fight on the neighborhood rockpile after his mother warned him not to. The rockpile of course can stand for so many things in a young black boy's life and in this story, it stood for temptation. And the lesson here is...when you give in, there's hell to pay and a lot of times, that starts with the wrath of the father figure, whoever that man may be.

The reader can feel the tension as the boy waits for his father's return from work and in a stroke of genius, Baldwin takes us right to the edge. The father is home. The "boy" is verbally chastized. But the story ends with an image of the toe of the father's black workshoe. Absolutely perfect and telling!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day Forty-Nine: "Michael Egerton" by Reynolds Price


A summer church camp is Michael Egerton's chance to feel normal. His parents are divorced, his mother moved onto a life with another man and his father rarely seeing him because of his busy schedule as a war correspondent. This young boy finds a friend in the narrator and the story sets up as a sort of Jesus/Peter story where, at the end, Michael is betrayed and left tied up between bunkbeds as if crucified when the narrator opts instead to return to the dining hall and its music and acceptance.

This is a great story about bullying and hypocrisy. What a heartbreaker.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day Forty-Eight: "Falling Out of Love" by Larry Brown


A young man and his girlfriend go their separate ways alongside a highway when their car gets two flat tires. Told from the point of view of the man after concluding an argument with his girlfriend and then contemplating life without her, this short story is rich in voice and in characterizations about the South and its small world of drugs and sex and spats and dirt roads and oak trees.

I'll definitely read more from his collection "Big Bad Love." I didn't want to leave these characters on the page so I can only imagine what his others would show me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012



I love these new words and because I love them and they came out of me tonight in what was only about 10 minutes of solid frenzied writing, I am sharing them here for a change. Here we go!

I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, consciously opening my lungs to let the life back in, hoping it will come and with each inhale, I think of a new person. It calms me, a trick my sister taught me after the fire, a way to fall asleep when all the bullshit about counting sheep doesn’t work. I don’t know anyone that it works for actually.

There’s Aunt Minnie and her Pomeranian, Fifi, that only eats strawberry yogurt. The mailman Ray. He’s missing one ear but he keeps his cap pulled down low so you barely notice it, at least I don’t notice it anymore. It took a few hand deliveries for me to avoid staring but then one day, after handing me a priority mail envelope full of inscribed fountain pens, I shut the door and realized I’d not looked at the side of his head. I almost wondered if he’d grown an ear and I missed the chance to see it, to say, hey, Ray…way to go. The downstairs neighbor, Miss Edna who always asks me to pick her lottery numbers for her. You’s lucky. That’s the only thing she ever said to me in her pleading. You’s lucky. It didn’t matter that she never won with my numbers. She keeps asking and I keep giving them to her, always including a 4 and a 37. My nephew Charlie who loves windmills and his 8 year old sister Clara who still isn’t potty trained.

But sometimes, when I go through names, I get stuck on Brett. He’s always on the list. A lawyer, a crusader wearing the cross of King Arthur on the breastplate of his armor, a slayer of dragons with a sword made of pure gold. He’s always there in some fantastic getup but I never take him seriously and I get stuck. I get stuck on him because he reminds me of my father and it’s not like he exists as a separate person for me, especially at times like this where his disappointment stays behind even after he’s left the room.

Day Forty-Seven: "Afternoon of an Author" by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Fitzgerald gives the reader a snapshot of one of his afternoons and while a fictional account of same, the story reads as a sort of resentment of his life as a writer, and the resulting frustration and sadness that comes from not knowing what to write and where to find the inspiration.

From within? From the streets where he watches women on street corners in their dresses and bright colored hats? From the storefronts and barber shops and park benches? The writer in this story is a drifter of a man at the end of his career struggling to find a tale worth telling. Fitzgerald got this one right from start to finish.

Images I'll never forget.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day Forty-Six: "The Place" by Edith Konecky


A young Jewish girl is forced to try on dresses at the tailor's shop where her father works. This may seem blase but, this is not just any young girl. She's flat chested and not very tall and dresses, the ones her mother picks out, don't fit her right. There's a scene toward the end of the story where the girl is standing in awkward heels with socks stuffed into the bodice of the dress and with the dress pinned to her slip in order to attempt a proper fit.

Still, it's no good. The reader sees, through this image, that this girl won't ever quite fit, not only in her world where curves and stature equal status and allure, but she won't ever quite fit into the vision of the future her mother and father have for her. She can only hide inside these too-big clothes for so long.

This was a feminist story through and through and I have a feeling a second read would reveal even more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day Forty-Five: "The Valentine" by James Jones

Courage. Insane Courage.

This kid had it. This 8th grade boy struggling with the courage to give a girl in his class a heart shaped box of chocolates. We see him agonize over the decision to buy the gift. We see him change his mind over and over about how to present the gift to his classmate. We see him watch from a distance as the gift is opened and laughed at. And we see his heartbreak as he takes his seat in class in anticipation of what he calls "fifty whole minutes of his life."

Though the story doesn't end the way the reader wants, you can't help but root for this kid. The reader knows all too well that this happens. Feelings get hurt. Plans get derailed. People get disappointed. But, what the reader knows that this kid doesn't yet is that 8th grade is just a time, a period of time where courage, the courage this kid had, is what matters most. THAT is what will carry him into adulthood. There is hope and life in his courage and for that the reader can't help but be thrilled.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day Forty-Four: "What the Sky Sees" by Jon McGregor


This story about a man who makes a mistake and spends his adult life trying to hide it, is at once lyrical and brutal and twisted in the way the language soothes the reader into thinking, like the man, that his situation will all turn out okay.

Interestingly, a good bit of this story is spent in reference to the sky itself, its colors and shapes, yet it doesn't feel overdone. The sky at dusk in one place is described as the color of a "freshly forming bruise" which I thought was perfect. This sort of detail is what makes the story compelling and keeps the reader reading.

Ultimately, it's a story about mistakes. Everyone makes them. It's what we make out of them that matters. Nice job by a writer I'd not read before. I'd definitely read more.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day Forty-Three: "A Real Durwan" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Honor. Dishonor.

An aging doorkeeper (durwan) of a building located inside an Indian village takes her job perhaps more seriously than is warranted and as a result, those in her building expect more and they then honor her more for the extra work, for the stories she shares of the luxuries and comforts from her life before to which they are not accustomed.

She is more than a doorkeeper. She is a dream, an image of days gone by that they'd rather not consider or remember or hope for again, and she is there, a dream and she's safe as long as she tells her stories and sweeps the floors and keeps the stairwell clean.

But then, she is robbed and then her building is robbed while she is out searching for the person who took her life savings. At that point, the tenants of her building turn on her. The perfection of the dream she personified--shattered. The story concludes with her tenants in search of a "real" durwan...and we know, as the readers, that they simply don't see what they already have in this woman, a woman more real than anyone wants to believe.

This was a great read from Lahiri's Pulitzer prize winning collection of stories. I can now see why she got all this hype!

Week Seven Short Story Selections

Day Forty-Three: "A Real Durwan" by Jhumpa Lahiri
Day Forty-Four: "What the Sky Sees" by Jon McGregor
Day Forty-Five: "The Valentine" by James Jones
Day Forty-Six: "The Place" by Edith Konecky
Day Forty-Seven: "Afternoon of an Author" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Day Forty-Eight: "Falling out of Love" by Larry Brown
Day Forty-Nine: "Michael Egerton" by Reynolds Price

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day Forty-Two: "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen


A mother stands at her ironing board, ironing, thinking as she waits for her 19 year old daughter to return home from a long day of school. What will become of her daughter? Did she fail as a mother? How could things have gone differently?

With line after line of memories filled with child rearing, a mom making tough decisions about work, bedtimes, discipline, and housecleaning in relation to the time spent with her children, this story reads as a sort of referendum on motherhood on the run.

When the mother acknowledges how she has managed her daughter rather than truly being a mother to her, she says this and it breaks the reader's heart for both the mother and her child:

"I will never total it all. I will never come in to say: She was a child seldom smiled at."

This short story is a cautionary tale about what happens when you don't pay attention to your child's needs or when you pretend that those needs aren't really there. For this single mother, the blinders she wore in order to survive, to keep her family unit in place, are the same ones that allowed her to muster some hope in the end that her daughter would do better than her, BE more than just another mother standing over her ironing board.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day Forty-One: "In a Tub" by Amy Hempel


This short short story is about listening, to yourself, to your heart, to the feel of the body and how it relates to the world around it, a world of cats and empty churches and potted plants that need tending.

How to find your pulse in new ways. An ear to a pillow. A body submerged in water. The bigger picture here is the tub itself, the idea that there has to be a place where we each of us can close our eyes and listen for just a heartbeat.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day Forty: "By Love Betrayed" by Judith Ortiz Cofer


A young girl wonders about the lives of her parents. What does her father really do when he's working? Why does he have a second job that her mother won't talk about? Why is her mother so religious? Why does her mother scratch and slap her father?

These are all questions the young narrator has and yet when the story concludes, despite the complete lack of answers, the reader is left with a sense that the absence of finality, the remoteness of truth, are better examples of what life is about than the truth revealed to the little girl when she witnesses her father in the throws of an affair with a neigbor in their apartment complex.

What she sees cannot be changed. What she tells her mother she has seen...well, there's some wiggle room in that. The father makes sure of that. Such a simple and short story to set up a fundamental fact of life: there is, at the core of everything, something real and of itself. When we talk about it...that is the only time it changes. Sometimes, as this story shows, it's for the best.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day Thirty-Nine: "Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes" by J.D. Salinger


In an interesting story that revolves around a telephone conversation between two grown men, the reader sees what pain a miscommunication can lead to and yet what pain a miscommunication can sometimes spare others from. With crisp dialogue and a voice that is always his own, JD Salinger shows how vulnerable a man can be when the prospect of losing his lover is presented to him.

It seems that for the author and his characters, there is really never a resolution.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day Thirty-Eight: "Trick or Treat" by Padgett Powell


A seemingly happy married woman plots to seduce her 12 year old lawn boy to shake up her life, to make up for the boredom that from the outside, makes her life work, makes it a success. The dialogue in this story between Mrs. Hollingsworth and little Jimmy is so much fun and you can see how situations like this begin, progress, and as the story concludes, you have a sense of where this untenable relationship will end.

It was a pretty risky move on Padgett Powell's part to write this story but it works and the ick factor is surprisingly minimal. A proposed criminal act occurring on the night of Halloween, a true "trick or treat" for the reader as we are left wondering if it will actually happen.

Nice Job!


New Words!! Finally, 636 for the night. More to follow tomorrow. More.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day Thirty-Seven: "If this Letter Were a Beaded Object" by Robin Bradford


A lonely, recently divorced woman huddles under a staircase in her Texas home waiting for a hurricane to run its course and bides her time reading Moby Dick and alternately writing a letter to her dorm mother from college. She reaches out to this woman from her past, a woman that it's clear to the reader meant a great deal to the author of this letter. And it's the way she expresses her connection to the woman through her memories and by envisioning the woman's life after she knew her that makes this story breathtaking.

What a beautiful look at yearning and its place in a lonely woman's life. This story could not have been written any better. I'm so glad I found it and will add this author to my "need to read more" list.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day Thirty-Six: "The Pelican" by Bob Shacochis


What a wonderfully written story about an "agriculturalist" in the Caribbean who is immersed in the culture while feeling his way around the people and the plants that so interest him. The details here about the various trees and flowers that he encounters combined with the dialect used by the main "supplier," Marcus, really put the reader into the story.

You feel transported reading Shacochis and I'll definitely read more after taking on this story and its inhabitants.

Week Six Short Story Selections

Day Thirty-Six: "The Pelican" by Bob Shacochis
Day Thirty-Seven: "If this Letter Were a Beaded Object" by Robin Bradford
Day Thirty-Eight: "Trick or Treat" by Padgett Powell
Day Thirty-Nine: "Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes" by J.D. Salinger
Day Forty: "By Love Betrayed" by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Day Forty-One: "In a Tub" by Amy Hempel
Day Forty-Two: "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day Thirty-Five: "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster


This is the first "sci-fi" short story I've read as part of my 2012 reading project and if you'd told me it would be an E.M. Forster story, I'd have laughed and denied that it could be true. However, it seems to me, after reading this story, that he was sort of meant to write this type of thing. It is strange and eerie and oddly believable despite the talk of air-ships and glowing blue plates and death worms and breathing tubes and THE MACHINE.

This idea of "the machine" is obviously a metaphorical one in the story but we are shown how a mother and a son adapt to life inside the machine and the ramifications of venturing outside of the machine. The central conflict revolves around the son's decision to leave, to challenge the structure on which the machine is based, a structure which keeps individuals isolated and devoid of personal connections to not only people but to places, animals, plants, anything that could stir emotion.

When the mother, Vashti, repeatedly recalls the "terrors of direct experience", the reader sees very clearly what Forster is trying to do, what he is trying to say. I think however that this story is best summed up by the following quote from the story:

"The imponderable doom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable doom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of artificial fruit. Something "good enough" had long since been accepted by our race."

This is perfect. Forster is setting forth his own challenge in this story which was first published in 1909. There has to be something better than "good enough" if we are only brave enough to look for it.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

So, I discovered this American poet when I was in my senior year of high school and then, my best friend bought me a copy of her collected poems when I was in my first year of college. Sadly, during a really nasty flooding rain a few years ago, the book got soaked while still packed in a box from the move from my apartment to my house. Now, that book is missing its back cover and the pages are wrinkled and mildewed in places but it didn't keep me from putting it in its proper place on my shelf along with some of my other favorites.

And every now and then, when I feel like a good cry or just...when I feel like taking a look at another woman's gnashing and reeling and healing and forgetting, I take the book from my shelf and I peruse the poems I've marked over. And even though the ink is smudged and some of my own comments I can't read anymore, I can still recall exactly how I felt when I first read her.

I find myself wanting now to read her again...perhaps because it's the one book I could never let myself part with despite its own decay.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day Thirty-Four: "The Other Two" by Edith Wharton


This short story by Edith Wharton shows a man struggling to come to terms with his wife's two former husbands, men who are suddenly and regrettably a part of his daily life. In true Wharton style, there is a love triangle of sorts where there is passion and understated intentions that only cause the parties involved more pain than pleasure.

It was interesting to see this man analyze the two former husbands, both of whom were very different from him. And he's not jealous. He's just curious, at least at first but as the subtle hints pile on that his wife has been lying, that curiosity fuels the greater worry. Wharton builds the tension in this piece perfectly.

This was a dense read but it was worth it for the language, to remember what it was like to live in a time of repressed feeling when the words used to describe them were so powerful.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day Thirty-Three: "Maybe You Can, Too" by Garrison Keillor


This is a story about a housewife who has an idea for "computer skirts" and decides to act on it. It is a ridiculous idea, bordering on absurd, but somehow she is able to manufacture and market these cotton elastic banded skirts to slide down around a computer monitor so that it looks as if it is wearing a skirt.

The narrator can't really believe it and then laments the various times he missed out on opportunities. Is it being afraid to get embarrassed that holds the narrator back or is it sheer skepticism and lack of insight? Regardless, he seems to be on the lookout for the next big thing as the story concludes but as a reader, you get the sense that he won't find it.

It's as if the next big thing will never be something you are actually looking for! The next big thing will simply happen to a person, a whim put into action. This narrator is thinking too hard.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day Thirty-Two: "American Desire" by James (Jedd) McFatter


This short story is just that, short, but don't let its brevity fool you. There is more meaning packed into these six paragraphs than in many longer short stories, than in some novels even. Line by line, this story deserves to be analyzed and then read again just to feel it, to appreciate the pace of it.

This author is my brother but that matters not. What matters is that the words he put on the page, words about needs, some basic and some complex, resonate.

"I need a kickstart and a kickstand and a swift kick in the pants."

Say that aloud a few times and you'll see why this piece works. It's how the sentences fit that make it smart. It's the choice to put them in their respective places that make it brilliant.