For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 15: January 21, 2013

When a Western author writes, he doesn’t lose sleep over whether his work would be intelligible outside the boundaries of Europe.

Professor Emeritus of Urdu Literature and Islamic Studies, avid translator, editor of numerous Urdu short story volumes, including Do You Suppose it’s the East Wind? Stories from Pakistan.

Aleksandar Hemon in a conversation with Book Forum:

If I try to tell you what happened to me in '91, I'll have to guess about certain things, I'll have to make up certain things, because I can't remember everything. And certain memories are not datable. You and I might remember our lunch, but some years from now we won't remember it was on a Friday. I will not connect it with what happened this morning because they are discontinuous events. To tell a story, you have to —not falsify—but you have to assemble and disassemble. Memories are creative. To treat memory as a fact is nonsense. It's inescapably fiction.

Our recommendations this week

Afraid of the Dark

He ran along the north rail and practiced rollbacks. His mule was getting the hang of it, but still he was a mule and wanted to think about everything before he did it. Austin considered the fact that he had to be smarter than the animal. Apparently, spending most of the hours of most of his days working his equine friends hadn't made him that smart. It had made him broke and divorced, but not smart. Sarah said as she left, “You go out on trails all right, but what you really love is riding around in circles.” She said that and drove away in a Chevy with a weak battery to the house of another man. 

We read it in Damned If I Do.

Converging City

He grew conscious of the smell of a rotting body. Sweating and confused, Agodi wondered if the smell came from his antagonist. Then he located the corpse of an upturned and bloated cow at the side of the road. Exulting flies formed a buzzing black cloud above the swollen body. Agodi had barely recovered from the surprise when the man tapped him twice on the head. Angered by the short man's audacity, Agodi held his fists before him. He hopped and goaded the man and at the same time made pleading insinuations about the fires of hell, the agony of sinners. The man found his cue. He made a strange noise and held Agodi in a curious grip and then tossed him into the air. When Agodi landed it was with a squelchy explosion as he scattered the flies and was immediately covered in a burst of foul-smelling liquids. Beyond the wild sounds, and the jubilant flies, he saw the world pointing at him. He pulled himself out, using the horn as a lever. When he had extricated himself from the belly of the cow he found his wrapper irredeemably soaked.