For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Week n° 9: November 26, 2012

That a writer can go through all the necessary stages of discovery, change, and even, to some extent, resolution, in so tight a space is daunting and miraculous.

Author of Thinner than SkinThe Geometry of God, and more.

Truman Capote in a Paris Review interview: 

When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant. Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium. 

Our recommendations this week

Cross Thieves

“Why the hell didn't we just take a loaf and run?” I ask Gogo, and he says, “We aren't like that. Our ancestors died for bread. We can't steal bread.”

That's rare talk from Gogo. But when you're hungry, all your history reveals itself clearly before you, if only in a flash. Though I suppose Gogo has a point. Some things are bigger than we are. “The essential,” being one of them. Nasashtniyat, “the essential,” that's what we call bread here in Bulgaria. No one is bigger than bread. Proverbs and Sayings, volume 35, page 124. 

“Gogo,” I say now to add a proverb of my own, “no one gives you bread for free.”


“I thought they'd keep her in Rome because of her friendship with the Pope—she's an RC, children,” the mother explained. The girl knew the initials were a kind of soft drink, and once again she was baffled. 

“The Pope's turned out to be a weak reed,” the father explained, “absolutely useless to us in this case, as he was during the war.”

The girl had seen a portrait of a pope at the convent school—a stretched-out, greenish figure in a red robe—and so she could imagine quite easily that under that robe there was only a reed.

We read it in Mending.

A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis

This morning we had already had a good trip as the sun began coming out. The croakers swam in a burlap sack tied to a piling and underwater. The sacks were free at the grocery and people called them croaker sacks. When you lifted the sack to put another croaker in you heard that froggy metal noise in a chorus, quite loud, and you saw the cats on shore hearken to it too. We would have them with french-fried potatoes, fat tomato slices from my uncle's garden, and a large piece of deep sweet watermelon for supper

It made a young boy feel good having the weight of all these fish in the dripping sack when you lifted it, knowing you had provided for a large family and maybe even neighbors at supper. You felt to be a small hero of some distinction, and ahead of you was that mile walk through the neighborhood lanes where adults would pay attention to your catch and salute you. The fishing rod on your shoulder, you had done some solid bartering with the sea, you were not to be trifled with.

We read it in High Lonesome.