For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 14: January 14, 2013

I appreciate the integration of video and interactive maps into storytelling, but what an unexhaustible technology we have in the sentence.

Author of The Slide, with short fiction appearing in Pank, Five Chapters, Juked, and more

John Steinbeck on Louis Paul's novel, The Wrong World –as read in Working Days:

But the sureness of touch, the characters that move about, the speech that sounds like speaking, the fact that it happens, that one is never conscious of how a thing is said but only of what is said. I know the why and how of that. It's the millions of words written, all the short stories, even the ones that weren't any good. Without the millions of words written it is impossible to write a book like this. And by the same token–those millions of words are a guarantee that the last half will not falter for a moment.

Our recommendations this week

The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge
Excerpt

Through the silver candelabra and miniature turkey sandwiches Mrs. Bridge went graciously smiling and chatting a moment with everyone, quietly opening windows to let out the smoke, removing wet glasses from mahogany table tops, slipping away now and then to empty the onyx ashtrays she had bought and distributed throughout the house.

Beachy Marsh got drunk. He slapped people on the shoulder, told jokes, laughed loudly, and also went around emptying the ashtrays of their magenta-colored stubs, all the while attempting to control the tips of his shirt collar which had become damp from perspiration and were rolling up into the air like horns. Following Mrs. Bridge halfway up the carpeted stairs he said hopefully, “There was a young maid from Madras, who had a magnificent ass; not rounded and pink, as you probably think—it was grey, had long ears, and ate grass.”

“Oh, my word!” replied Mrs. Bridge, looking over her shoulder with a polite smile but continuing up the stairs, while the auto salesman plucked miserably at his collar

We read it in The Paris Review No. 10.

The Bees, Part 1
Excerpt

Toward page thirteen, one can sense longer breaks between sentences, the thickly penciled words thinning out after a sharpening session. There are mid-sentence breaks, with syntactical discrepancies between independent and dependent clauses, suggesting his thought splitting, the splinters flying off in different directions. Sometimes the sentence simply ceases: We know, then nothing; It must be said, but it is impossible to know what must be said. 

And something troubling and strange happens around page seventeen. My father is in the middle of conveying a humurous story about Branko, a neighbor, yet again a victim of a bee attack. 

We read it in Love and Obstacles.

Cattle Haul
Excerpt

I’ll be coming up on Houston soon. I hate the interstate through the city: everything all wide and complicated. They got too much room for something bad to happen. My first drive, I was right to the east of Panama City and some white boy driving a yellow pickup ran off the curb and swerved and ended up a inch away from my front tires. He fishtailed down the lane, and I thought that was it: I get my first drive and can’t even make it from Mississippi into Florida before I wreck the truck—just like that, I’m back in my daddy’s house, collecting change in cups. But Whiteboy got his truck under control and I slowed down and let him get on his way.

I couldn’t stop the truck: John-Lee had gave me sixteen hours to make it to Miami. By the time I got to Orlando, the caffeine had wore off, and I was starting to doze. So I opened the dimebag of crystal that I found in that old coffee mug my daddy gave me and I put a little bit on my finger and I breathed it in. My nose was flayed like a fish. I was up. When I came back from that trip, Daddy didn’t say nothing about it.

We read it in A Public Space Vol. 5.