For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 31: May 13, 2013

Writing Habits, Part 1.

If you don’t write about other people, really listen to how they talk, then all your characters will be versions of yourself, and you might as well go home.

Featuring Marie-Helene Bertino, Andrew Malan Milward, Jennifer Mills

Gerald Howard in his essay, “Never Give an Inch”: 

Work—especially the sort of work that gets your hands dirty and that brands you as a member of the working class—no longer seems germane to our novelists’ apprenticeships and, not coincidentally, is no longer easy to find in the fiction they produce. Whether one finds this scarcity something to worry about or simply a fact to be noted probably says a lot about one’s class origins and prejudices.

Our recommendations this week

Point 121
Excerpt

Sometimes a beautiful person does something beautiful in the beautiful world and I just have to remember or forget it; that is all. Maybe we’re at a glittering heteronormative boardwalk, dressed in easy irony, and the glorious sun is setting, and we’re talking about heteronormativity and also things we watch on Netflix instant streaming, and I want to take a photograph, as though from my 1981 Holga, with my 2014 phone, but I just can’t, I just can’t. All the time, I could have said, this phone helps me to incorrectly answer, or simply not answer, any number of given questions. At dinner, there’s no point to putting it on the table, so I don’t. And when I wake in the morning, if I want to look at freshly posted photos of you, I’d have to walk to the back of our house and turn on the computer, and select from the various networks, including the intriguingly named “PoliceSurveillanceVan4,” and kneel in the kneeling chair, which I do not want to do. So I look out the window, and I look at the sky. Some days the trees are rosy. Some days the trees are fleeced.

We read it in The Point Magazine.

Smoke
Excerpt

In what should have been the house’s hall, my grandfather had set up a civil registry where migrants from the interior would document their newborns, newly deceased and newlyweds. Piri called it a job for slackers: pushing the buttons on a toy as though your life depended on it, stopping poor people from giving their children gringo names like Johnny, Chuck or Michael and, for entertainment, cheating against yourself at solitaire. He found the concept of a “writing machine” completely ridiculous, since we were used to the brutal machines that converted meat into a shapeless, reddish blob and then into chorizo.

We read it in The Buenos Aires Review.

A Difference in Temperament
Excerpt

He leant against the mantelpiece, nervously jingling the change in his pockets. He supposed there would be another scene. It was so unreasonable the way she minded him going out without her. She never seemed to realise that he just had to get away sometimes—for no particular reason, but because it gave him a sense of freedom. He loved to slam the front door behind him, and to walk along the street to a bus, swinging a stick. There was something about the feeling of being alone he could not explain to anyone, not even to her. The delicious sense of utter irresponsibility, of complete selfishness. Not to have to look at his watch and remember, “I promised to be back at four,” but at four to be doing something quite different that she would not know. The feeblest thing. Even driving in a taxi she had never seen; to have the sensation of leaning back and smoking a cigarette without turning his head and being aware of her beside him. He would come back in the evening and tell her about it; they would sit in front of the fire and laugh; but at least it would have been his afternoon — not theirs, but his alone.