For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 20: February 25, 2013

What I’ve learned from the first book is that it’s also a privilege to write for yourself.

Author of story collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, and winner of BBC National Short Story Award for “The Numbers”

Jim Harrison in an interview with Joseph Bednarik:

I have such trouble, getting all these manuscripts every year by the hundreds, and galleys and so on, because you can tell right away if a person’s not in touch; if they want sincerity, or to be right, it’s hopeless. If there isn’t a primary intoxication with language and playfulness of their own consciousness, it’s hopeless. If they just want to be right, well then they’d be better off being a professor, wouldn’t they?

Our recommendations this week

Lukin's Bed

The fact is, far from decreasing, the number of divorces has multiplied and the diaspora of women has become increasingly unpredictable. Last winter was one of the worst ever, unforgivably cruel. Never before had every single woman left, absolutely every one, all together at the same time; previously, at least ten or twenty used to stay through the year, either because they lacked the energy to take flight or because they were entirely satisfied with their husbands. What’s more, we always used to be able to turn to the comfort of the girls in the brothel run by Mikaína—an extraordinary woman with huge hips whose statue presides proudly over the small square in the middle of our city’s central plaza. The girls only ever abandoned their posts after our ex-wives’ replacements had arrived during the rainy season. This was a small gesture from Mikaína towards her clients for which we gave thanks and then some, sponsoring the aforementioned square that bears her name.

Orpheus and his Lute

“Take an oath first, then,” said the bandmaster. “Not a drop of drink till we have the instruments back!”

“Not a drop,” they said.

“That we might be killed stone dead.”

“That we might be killed stone dead.”

“Well, for the love of God, remember it,” said the bandmaster.

To give them their due, they kept that promise better than ever they kept the pledge, but it did them very little good. Once people get a notion into their heads that a thing is dead, 'tis damned. Even Father Dennehy, the great priest for the bands, wouldn't give them a hand. He said they were after giving too much scandal. God rest the poor man, if he can hear the pipers' bands where he is now,  he might be sorry for giving Irishtown the hard word.

We read it in Bones of Contention.

All She Had

The girl at first tried to get them to leave by brute force, that’s it! She shook the benches to annoy them with rattle noises. “Ah look at this,” they laughed, “The little weasel is showing her muscles,” and another one chimed in, “Have you been skipping the gym? You’re looking a little droopy.” So she stole his jacket. The grandfathers weren’t very strong. She stole all of their jackets. They shivered and stared at her like wrinkled chimps. She held her ground for as long as she could.

She tried trickery next. She told them she knew of another young woman who loved to house grandfathers in her. She handed them pamphlets about how very still this other girl sits, how much Carnation Instant Breakfast she drinks, how often she reads the newspaper. She drew pictures of the imaginary girl’s weak limbs. At first the grandfathers’ eyes sparkled with interest. Then one asked, “Well, where does she live?”

We read it in Hobart.