For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 11: December 10, 2012

As much as we rant about shrinking attention span, we still crave immersion. Even TV series have been arcing, more and more, toward the epic.

Author of novel The Borrower and several short stories, four of which have been anthologized in the Best American Short Stories series.

Lawrence Durrell in The Big Supposer:

If you write bad French you end up with bad French. Whereas in English you can make any number of grammatical errors and still retain control, so that mistakes (whether or not they are deliberate) turn into gems. Take Conrad: his mistakes had such a beauty about them that the English ended by imitating them. A French poet needs a lot more temerity before he sets about destroying the grammar. When Rimbaud writes ‘Je est un autre’ he is deliberately attempting to break down logical structure; as a result he thought of as a phenomenon. In England we take that sort of thing in our stride, as if the language belonged to each individual. 

Our recommendations this week

Once a Very Stupid Man

She herself feels she is like the very stupid man, not only because she couldn't find her clothes, not only because sometimes other simple things besides getting dressed are also beyond her, but most of all because she often doesn't know where she is, and particularly concerning this man she doesn't know where she is. She thinks she is probably no place in the life of this man, who is also not only not in his own house, just as she is not in her own house when she visits him and in fact doesn't know where this house is but arrives here as though in a dream, stumbling and falling in the street, but who is not altogether in his own life anymore and might well also ask himself, “Where am I?”

We read it in Break it Down.

Four Days in Dixie

When I regained my consciousness the sun was high. I was still giddy and half blind. To have taken to the water would have been madness; I must have a raft. Exploring my island, I found a pen of slender logs: an old structure without roof or rafters, built for what purpose I do not know. Several of these logs I managed with patient toil to detach and convey to the water, where I floated them, lashing them together with vines. Just before sunset my raft was complete and freighted with my outer clothing, boots and pistol. Having shipped the last article, I returned into the brake, seeking something from which to improvise a paddle. While peering about I heard a sharp metallic click–the cocking of a rifle! I was a prisoner.

The history of this great disaster to the Union arms is brief and simple. A Confederate “home guard,” hearing something going on upon the island, rode across, concealed his horse and still-hunted me. And, reader, when you are “help up” in the same way may it be by as fine a fellow. He not only spared my life, but even overlooked a feeble and ungrateful after-attempt upon his own (the particulars of which I shall not relate), merely exacting my word of honor that I would not again try to escape while in his custody. Escape! I could not have escaped a new-born babe.

We read it in Civil War Stories.

Good Morning, Giantess!

You encounter eyes as you walk along like this: girls’ eyes and the eyes of men, mirthless and gay; legs are trotting behind and before you, and you too are legging along as best you can, gazing with your own eyes, glancing the same glances as everyone else. And each breast bears some somnolent secret, each head is haunted by some melancholy or inspiring thought. Splendid, splendid.

We read it in Berlin Stories.