For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 1: October 01, 2012

You can experience an entire world in a short story that takes you fifteen minutes to read. Pretty great.

Author of Daniel Fights a Hurricane, Light Boxes, I Will Unfold You with My Hairy Hands, and others.

Nicole Krauss in preface to Best European Fiction 2012

It is our luck to be talking about short stories—a form whose physical diminutiveness has saved it from the expectation of carrying nations on its back, leaving it free to do as it pleases...

Our recommendations this week

I Tried to be a Beacon
Excerpt

I worked with rich kids for a while. I tried to teach them what I knew. I didn't know much, but substitute teachers aren't supposed to know much. Real actual teachers don't know much either. Or we'd all know more, wouldn't we? Take history. I knew some history. Not treaty dates. Not kings, or kingly edicts. Not the Pageantry of Democracy, or the Mosaic of Liberty, or whatever was my comparative misfortune. I made sure to implicate their ancestors — a continuum of villainy.

“Just so you understand.” I told them, “your trust funds soak in the blood of the people.”

“Just the principal,” said the tiniest one. He'd been born without kidneys. Some thought him plucky.

We read it in The Minus Times Collected 1992-2012.

Originally published in The Minus Times.

Preacher's Legend
Excerpt

A south-moving cloud slipped over the sun and a patch of dark, an island of shadow, crept down the field, drifted over the ridge. Presently it began to rain: summer rain with sun in it, lasting only a short time; long enough for settling dust, polishing leaves. When the rain ended, an old colored man—his name was Preacher—opened his cabin door and gazed at the field where weeds grew profusely in the rich earth; at a rocky yard shaded by peach trees and dogwood and chinaberry; at a gutted red-clay road that seldom saw car, wagon, or human; and at a ring of green hills that spread, perhaps, to the edge of the world.

Preacher was a small man, a mite, and his face was a million wrinkles. Tufts of gray wool sprouted from his bluish skull and his eyes were sorrowful. He was so bent that he resembled a rusty sickle and his skin was the yellow of superior leather. As he studied what remained of his farm, his hand pestered his chin wisely but, to tell the truth, he was thinking nothing. 

My Hand Is Exhausted
Excerpt

And she thought: I must remember that, love passes; it might indeed comfort someone, especially if one is the one who loves, which also passes.

But real love? Might as well say: life passes. But real life? Yes, real life also passes. And there is no other life than the life that passes. And it's not even a question of: the longer it lasts the more real it is. Children who die a crib death have really lived, if for an instant; length of time is absolutely not the test.

And then his shoulders shuddered all at once. With men that's a sign that they're crying. A crying man is impossible to draw; it's even worse than a naked man.