For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 51: November 25, 2013

Spotlight: Ana María Shua

Is it enough to simply be a Latin American woman or do we also have to demonstrate it? 

Ana María Shua

A spotlight on the Spanish-speaking's “Queen of the Microstory”

Dorothy Parker on humor, from her introduction to S. J. Perelman's The Most of S. J. Perelman

Humor to me, Heaven help me, takes in many things. There must be courage; there must be no awe. There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism. There must be a disciplined eye and a wild mind. There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.

Our recommendations this week

Apple Snow Alone
Excerpt

“We are starving,” said the wolves as Tiny was leaving her trashcan one morning to gather apple snow. “We are sorry, but if we do not eat you we will die.”

“If you eat me I will die,” said Tiny.

“But there are two of us and one of you.”   

“But what will you do when I am all eaten up?”

“We will go back to eating apple snow.”

“There will be no more apple snow when I am eaten,” said Tiny. “It comes from my tears.”

“God damn it!” cried the wolves. “Is there no way we can win?”

“No,” said Tiny. “I'm sorry.”

“Then what is the point?” asked one wolf to the other.

“There is no point,” said the other wolf. They were both crying huge wolf tears over the futility of life in such a broken-down place, tears that fed no one.

We read it in Wigleaf.

Full story online at Wigleaf.

Welcome to Someplace Like Piscataway
Excerpt

My sister is one of those who has answers for everything. This might be one reason I have a hard time recognizing her. I can hardly understand questions myself, let alone the answers, which is probably why we don't talk to each other much. I think my sister is a social worker and I seem to remember her saying she worked in a hospital. I don't think she is a doctor or a nurse, though. I've never seen her in one of those coats and I'd like to think if she were a doctor or nurse I'd know this about her. There's only so much you can keep from anyone, let alone family. I do know that she's never been married and I'm pretty sure she's a virgin. You walk around her house and you know no one ever has sex here. Her house is like a museum is why, every piece of furniture from some bygone era, everything shiny and gleaming and too clean for anyone's good. She can talk about her house for an hour straight without taking a breath, going on about where she found that loveseat, what she paid for the sconces, what book gave her the inspiration for the new chandeliers. I try to nod and ask questions during theses, lectures, but I feel like an idiot. I'm not sure why she turned out this way. Our parents didn't keep house like this, never paid attention to how anything looked. Maybe that's why, maybe it's the apple falling forty-eight miles from the tree.

Sleepy
Excerpt

“Give the baby here!” a familiar voice answers. “Give the baby here!” the same voice repeats, this time harshly and angrily. “Are you asleep, you wretched girl?”

Varka jumps up, and looking round grasps what is the matter: there is no high road, no Pelageya, no people meeting them, there is only her mistress, who has come to feed the baby, and is standing in the middle of the room. While the stout, broad-shouldered woman nurses the child and soothes it, Varka stands looking at her and waiting till she has done. And outside the windows the air is already turning blue, the shadows and the green patch on the ceiling are visibly growing pale, it will soon be morning.

“Take him,” says her mistress, buttoning up her chemise over her bosom; “he is crying. He must be bewitched.”

Varka takes the baby, puts him in the cradle and begins rocking it again. The green patch and the shadows gradually disappear, and now there is nothing to force itself on her eyes and cloud her brain. But she is as sleepy as before, fearfully sleepy! Varka lays her head on the edge of the cradle, and rocks her whole body to overcome her sleepiness, but yet her eyes are glued together, and her head is heavy.

We read it in Later Stories: 1888-1903.