For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 2: October 08, 2012

If short stories are overlooked by book-buyers in favor of novelists, it's because the marketing for short stories is less aggressive. 

Author of Tilled Earth: Stories, Forget Kathmandu, and several others.

Richard Ford in the introduction to The Granta Book of the American Short Story:

...there is no perfect English — not in America anyway, and certainly not for the purposes of imaginative writing. There is only interesting and not interesting English, vivid and boring English.

...I've always liked stories that make proportionately ample rather than slender use of language, feeling as I do that exposure to a writer's special language is a rare and consoling pleasure. I think of stories as objects made of language, not just as reports on or illustrations of life, and within that definition, a writer's decision to represent life ‘realistically' is only one of a number of possibilities for the use of his or her words. 

Our recommendations this week

Lalla's Interests
Excerpt

Yury Seleznyov was standing on an old chair and getting ready to preside. His assistant, Viktor, age twelve and not a party member, kept running up to him with questions.

“Yury, there's a girl from another yard here with a baby. Can the baby give her its vote or not?”

Just then the baby began to vote all by itself, so loudly that they were all nearly deafened.

“Comrades,” Yury tried to scream over it, “comrades, I hereby inform you that in order to vote you must be able to walk! Anyone else must abstain. Votes are not transferable. Please put your name down if you'd like to speak — we don't have much time — about the problem of re-electing parents.”

American Tall Tale
Excerpt

He was a slump-shouldered knob-kneed stick-shanked droop-reared string-necked pole-armed shuffling husk of a man, with shambly shovel-feet that went in two different directions. His shoulders were so narrow he had to loop his red suspenders around his scraggy neck to keep his saggy pants from falling off. His knees were so knobby, when he walked it sounded like cookhouse spoons banging in tin bowls. But worse than the broomsticky look of him, this poor excuse for a mother's son was so lie-around lazy he made a dead dog look lively. He'd get up so late in the day it was time to go back to bed again. And what did this drowsy loafer like to do when he dragged himself out of bed slower than a log rolling uphill? Not one thing.

We read it in McSweeney's 41.

An Irrevocable Diameter
Excerpt

On the first floor the system was in working order, absolutely perfect and guaranteed. Upstairs, under a low unfinished ceiling, that Cindy lay in the deadest center of an August day. Her forehead was damp, mouth slightly open between drags, a furious and sweaty face, hardly made up except around the eyes, but certainly cared for, cheeks scrubbed and eyebrows brushed, a lifetime's deposit of vitamins, the shiny daughter of cash in the bank.

“Aren't you hot?” I inquired.

“Boiling,” she said.

“Why stay up here?” I asked like a good joe.

“That's my business,” she said.

“Ah come on, little one,” I said, “don't be grouchy.”

“What's it to you?” she asked.

I took her cigarette and killed it between forefinger and thumb. Then she looked at me and saw me for what I was, not an ordinary union brother but a perfectly comfortable way to spend five minutes.

We read it in The Collected Stories.