The tenth edition of Short Story Month is served early, because I am a dutiful daughter that way. After all, what child would dare blog on Mother’s Day? Well, I’m sorely tempted – but I think my father will whack me on the side of the head if ever I so much as crack open my laptop tomorrow. Well. So we get around this by jumping the gun, so to speak – I never really know when to use “so to speak” correctly. For that matter, “jumping the gun” too. Hm. Anyway. The short stories we feature today are all about mothers. No, wait, I lie. They’re somewhat about mothers – not even good mothers – and here they are:
#30 – “Sleepwalking” by Amy Bloom. In the aftermath of her husband’s marriage, what does a woman do? Get freaky with her stepson, that’s what! Okay, so I just gave away one of the story’s surprising joys (joyful surprises?). The narrative’s one of those leading-to-nowhere kinds. And then it actually leads somewhere. And that somewhere is a doozy, so matter-of-fact doozy, that you just have to put the book down and say, “Oh wow.”
Allow me to share “Principles of a Short Story,” an essay by poet/fictionist (and apparently essayist) Raymond Carver, one of my more favorite short story writers, because I’m like, stoic that way — and gasp! he’s a man. Carver, bless his soul, begins by saying how every little world within a short story is the writer‘s world. We all knew that, yes, but he says it in such a nice way that I, exciteable Sasha, can’t help but be impressed and googly-eyed:
It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.
Why, hello to you to. I apologize for the lateness of this post – there were tears to dab at, suicidal notions to shrug off, cigarettes to manically consume. That said, today’s SSM edition will be an extra special one, mostly because I’m glad to be alive, you betcha, and everything has this happy, shiny glow about it that can only be produced by over-the-counter drugs glugged down in the middle of an episode of existential dread.
But enough about that. Today, I present to you three short stories I stumbled upon in FailBetter.com, and I mega-spectacular one by Rafael San Diego — thank you, Wappy! Ahem. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?
Well hello crickets and the occasional tumbleweed. How ya doing? Great, I hope. The weather’s balmy — today I woke up because of the cold. I’ve always been more of a fan of heat than the cold. Although with the cold, I can layer. Layering is cool, you know. Cool. Haha, that was like a pun on cold. Like, you can layer (which is cool) when the weather is cold. There’s no escaping low temperature these days. Haha. Haha. I say, Haha, chap, haha!
Okay. Today, we mix it up a little. Because this whole review thing isn’t really my thing, although I have told you guys — Mr. Cricket and Mr. Tumbleweed — that it’s not a review thing but I think you still think this is a review thing. It’s a, well, it’s a short story thing meant for communal nomnomnom-ness. But then, ya know, it came to me last night: there’s something very lonely about this whole thing. (Thing, thing, thing!) Not lonely as in Little Girl In the Corner Wishing Someone Asks Her to Play Jackstones. It’s more, well, alone. Solitary?
This whole exercise could very well be the most futile, self-serving thing I’ve ever done, not to mention the most exhausting. Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, because I love the short story, yadda yadda. :) I’m still brainstorming what other things I can do, partly so things over here liven up a bit, partly so we diverge a little from the EWN pledge. I’m still thinking, so hush, haha. But, yeah, if you got any ideas, message me. Hurry, because I’ve been thinking I’ll post a short story of mine here, every two days or so. My mind can’t take that much Oh Shit – ness, so come on. Haha. (Why do make SSM sound so desperate?)
And some exciting news: Carina‘s doing a pledge of her own for Short Story Month. :) YAY FICTION.
So. Today we’re getting our fiction from the archives over at The New Yorker. When you go clickie on the titles of the short stories, you’ll be redirected to an online copy. I figured that it gets annoying if I go on and on about short stories you haven’t read before, or you might probably never get to read given one reason or another – so go over there and see for yourself.
That said, the commentary will be minimal. Because to indulge when spoiler-age is so imminent is just so damned inconsiderate of me. So I guess that makes this post a link-link-link thing?
Let’s make this clear: I did not make this up. For seriously, yo.
It’s at the heels of the Inter/National Poetry Month – and if the theory that the readers of this blog run in very small circles, then you know what I’m talking about, what with the daily renga over at Joel Toledo’s blog contributing to the whole Ooh Poetry Festivities. And that’s fantastic. That’s great. Anything to further literature, short of shoving manuscripts down the throats of unsuspecting passers-by.
But. When I/NPM was announced, well, I thought – like any bitter short story writer would, haha – “Don’t the fictionists get their own month?” (It’s not as temper-tantrum-y as it came out, I swear.) I didn’t know how such a month would work, given that the short story is goddamn long compared to the poem (with notable exceptions – go to hell, T.S. Eliot, and don’t you dare hide Walt Whitman) and lots of other things like blah and blah and blah. A round-robin can’t be accomplished in one day, unless writers really are the unsocial sort and churn out paragraphs and lie in wait for the next paragraph.
And then the people at Emerging Writers Network (Dan Wickett) thought of something kick-ass. And tada, the Very Unofficial Short Story Month. (If you don’t believe me, go here, and then here. And then Google it.)
Dan Wickett at EWN has proposed we go about it this way: “find three stories to read and blog about – one from a collection that maybe I’ve held onto a little too long, should have finished and reviewed by now, etc; one from a print journal; and one from an online journal. By month’s end, if all goals are met, just under 100 short stories will have been read and commented upon.”
Today, the three stories are authored by Filipino writers – not that every other day they’d hide, no, no: I just wanted to dedicate a day to our literature, because yes, dear high school batchmates, we have one.
Anyway. Here are today’s stories:
#13 – “The Housemaid” by Timothy Montes, from A Different Voice: Fiction by Young Filipino Writers, a Philippine PEN Fiction Anthology edited by Vicente Garcia Groyon. I chose this short story from the PEN antho because it has been bugging me for the longest time – I keep remembering the scene where the protagonist watches the whores climb the bus back home, after a day of shopping. And I keep remembering the part where Mario tells Cirila not to worry about getting pregnant, because he “knows how to control [himself]”. Don’t ask me why those are the details I remember about it. They just are, okay?