For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 37: July 01, 2013

In 2013 saying ‘I don't read my reviews’ is like saying ‘I don't turn when my name is called.’

Author of FUN CAMP, with fiction appearing in Barrelhouse, Mid-American Review, the Collagist, and more.

Barry Hannah in a Paris Review interview:

I believe you should have the words handy. Not that they all have to be perfect—there’s a lot of cross-outs—but language-to-hand is the sine qua non. You’ve got to have that before anything. That’s why writing when you don’t have anything to say is still good practice. At least it keeps you in the game. Almost like playing scales, which, by themselves, are meaningless. But you do have to play the scales.

Our recommendations this week

Understanding the Ur-Bororo

I can believe that in a more stimulating environment, somewhere where intellectual qualities are admired and social peculiarities sought after, Janner would have been a tremendous success. He was an excellent conversationalist, witty and informed. And if there was something rather repulsive about the way catarrh gurgled and huffled up and down his windpipe when he was speaking, it was more than compensated for by his animation, his excitement, and his capacity for getting completely involved with ideas.

Janner and I weren't appreciated by the rest of the student body at Reigate. We thought them immature and pathetic, with their passé, hippy hair and consuming passion for incredibly long guitar solos. I dare say they thought nothing of us at all. We were peripheral.

You guessed it; I was jealous. I didn't want to be sectioned off with waxy Janner. I wanted to be mingling my honeyed locks with similar honeyed locks to the sound of those stringed bagpipes. I wanted to provide an ideal arterial road for crabs, but I wasn't allowed to play.

The Snake Charmer

It often seems, and probably it is true, that man rose up out of the animal kingdom, that man became man, the creature able to think up such things as this archipelago and our improbable life here, simply because he had greater physical endurance than any other animal. What made an ape into a human being was not its hand, not its embryonic brain, not its soul — there are dogs and bears who act more intelligently and ethically than human beings. Nor was it a matter of mastering the power of fire — that too was secondary. Man had no other advantage at this time except that he turned out to be considerably stronger, he turned out to possess greater endurance — greater physical endurance. It's inaccurate to say that a man has nine lives like a cat. It would be more true to say of a cat that it has nine lives like a man.

I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down

He found Choat in the hall of the barn, locked in mortal combat with a flat tire. Stripped to the waist, he was wringing wet with sweat, his belly looped slackly over the waistband of his trousers. He had a crowbar jammed between the tire and the rim, trying to pry them apart. Meecham noticed with satisfaction that the tire showed no sign of giving.

When the old man's shadow fell across the chaff and dried manure of the hall, some dark emotion–dislike or hostility or simply annoyance–flickered across Choat's face like summer lightning. He laid the crowbar aside and squatted on the earth. He wiped sweat out of his eyes, leaving a streak of greasy dirt in the wake of his hand. Meecham suddenly saw how like a hog Choat looked–red jowls and close-set little eyes–as if maybe fate had a sense of humor after all.

“You not got a spare?”

“This is the spare. I think I know you. You're lawyer Meecham's daddy. We heard you was in a nursin home. What you doin here?”

“I didn't take to nursin,” Meecham said. “Is it true Paul rented you folks this place?”

“He damn sure did. Ninety-day lease with a option to buy.”

The old man felt dizzy, almost apoplectic with rage. The idea of Choat eating at his table and sleeping in his bed was bad enough. The thought that he might eventually own the place was not to be borne.

“Buy? You wasn't ever nothin but a loafer. You never owned so much as a pair of pliers. That's my wreckin bar right there. If you think you can buy a farm of this size with food stamps, you're badly mistaken.”


We read it in I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down.

Originally published in The Georgia Review.