I’ve read several short stories over the past year which have fascinated me. These stories were not necessarily published in 2010, they are simply the stories I read over the year which have resonated with me. I have found myself re-reading these, trying to understand how and why they worked. Several of these stories were found in short story collections, but two were actually found through the internet.
Leviathan, by Tobias Wolff. This story astounded me. As two couples celebrate a birthday with a cocaine fueled all night bender, Helen is dealing with some issues. In the morning light, she tells her friends about a whale watching trip that once went terribly wrong and how she dealt with the situation. The story she tells resonates with what’s happening in her current situation. After reading this story, I found the title also locks it all into place. Perfect. This story was found in:
Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)
Meat, My Husband, by Lydia Davis. This four page short story starts off simply, “My husband’s favorite food, in childhood, was corned beef.” The narrator describes how she prepares healthy meals and her husband eats them with indifference. On the last page though, her husband does a small simple thing one night that makes their mediocre dessert, and the story itself, transcendent. I’ve read this story a dozen times, and I’m still not sure why it’s so magical. This story was found in:
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
The Guide, by Robin Black. A beautiful story about a father taking his blind teenage daughter to meet her first guide dog. The backstory about the daughter’s accident and the repercussions on the marriage and family is heart wrenching. I love how this story builds, and how the observant dog trainer reveals so much to the father in the end. You can learn more about Robin’s remarkable collection here:
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories
The Trespasser, by Bonnie Jo Campbell. This four page story is stunning. A family shows up to their country cabin to find it’s been invaded by squatters. Although the family never sees the perpetrators, we learn what has transpired as the family rummages through their disturbed belongings. The violations that have taken place upon the family, and the young female trespasser are unsettling, and Bonnie Jo’s linkage of the two is haunting.
The Solution to Brian’s Problem, by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Written in second person, this story puts you in Brian’s skin as he evaluates six options in dealing with his meth addicted wife. Each option appears to lead to death or disaster to some degree. By the time Brian details his sixth option, you feel the sense of his despair and the thin thread by which people in this situation are hanging on. Great use of second person POV. These two stories can be found in Bonnie Jo’s collection here:
American Salvage (Made in Michigan Writers Series)
My Mother was an Upright Piano, by Tania Hershman. This flash fiction packs so much into less than three hundred words. The imagery in the first paragraph floored me. The aging mother recalling her secret affair and the effect on the daughter was thrilling. Tania posted this flash fiction piece on Fictionaut and it can be found here.
Conspiracy of Males, by Evan James Roskos. After reading a short story of his in a literary journal, I tried to learn more about him. I stumbled onto a You Tube video of Roskos reading A Conspiracy of Males. It was a powerful use of second person plural and I had hoped to link to it here, but the video has now been made private.