All posts filed under: short stories

Astrantia Roma | edge of evening

Solstice in three parts

A couple of weekends ago I went to Bath with friends. We were there to celebrate A-M’s 50th birthday. I remember, so clearly, trying to leave the house for her 40th birthday party, at a community centre five minutes up the road from our Colliers Wood flat. T was a little under two weeks old. I was sitting on the bed feeding her and each time I thought that she was finished & I would be able to slip out, a blush of pink would rise on her face, clouding to red & a curl of displeasure would appear around her mouth, before she again began to cry & I again began to feed her. Late, sometime after nine, I did slip out and felt all the strange vulnerability one feels out in the world postpartum, without an obvious pregnancy or a tiny baby to signal to people that they shouldn’t knock into you, should treat you with an exaggerated care and concern. I must’ve stayed less than half an hour. A decade later and …

Love by Clarice Lispector | edge of evening

Short stories: ‘Love’ by Clarice Lispector

A series of posts highlighting the very best of my short story reading. 3. ‘Love’ (‘Armor’) by Clarice Lispector translated by Katrina Dodson, from Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories published by Penguin Modern Classics. I’ve tried reading Clarice Lispector before, but I’ve never managed to relax into the beautiful strangeness of her sentences. Then, yesterday, I read her short story ‘Love’ translated by Katrina Dodson & I fell completely under her hypnotic spell. “Ana’s children were good, something true and succulent.” What a perfect and delicious sentence. ‘Love’ is, on the surface, a simple story: Ana, a housewife riding the tram home with her string bag of groceries, sees a blind man chewing gum, and this encounter somehow throws her into a crisis — The knit mesh [of her bag] was rough between her fingers, not intimate as when she had knit it. The mesh had lost its meaning and being on a tram was a snapped thread; she didn’t know what to do with the groceries on her lap. And like a strange song, the world started up …

Runaway by Alice Munro | edge of evening

Short stories: the Juliet stories by Alice Munro

A series of posts highlighting the very best of my short story reading. 2. ‘’Chance’, ‘Soon’ and ‘Silence’ by Alice Munro published in her 2004 collection Runaway. Munro’s stories have always felt exceptionally capacious; they have the scope of novels, though without any awkward sense of speeding up or boiling down. They are truly stories, and when they are linked, as Juliet’s stories are, they create not a simulacrum of a novel but a series of resonating episodes, still subject to the discipline and selectivity of the short-story form. It’s almost impossible to describe their unforced exactness, their unrushed economy.Alan Hollinghurst on Alice Munro, The Guardian, 5 February 2005 I loved these three stories so much when I first read them, nine or ten years ago, that I was almost afraid to return to them. There was an image that stayed with me, strange when I first encountered it, and then so familiar: a woman holding a baby on one hip, while mashing a hard-boiled egg with her other hand. Something I hadn’t experienced, captured and then returned to …

Young Skins by Colin Barrett | edge of evening

Short stories: ‘Stand Your Skin’ by Colin Barrett

The first in a series of posts highlighting the very best of my short story reading. 1. ‘Stand Your Skin’ by Colin Barrett, published in his 2014 collection Young Skins. “I try to stick to the moment, to the now of the action. Tense is irrelevant. You can do it in the past tense. […] Backstory, exposition, anything that draws back or looks to perspectivize—these hold little interest to me at moment. Not to say that won’t change. Certainly in the short-story form, what attracted me was the way my favorite stories were like a lightning flash. Nothing existed before or after them, and in the instant of their illumination, they are all that exists.”from an interview with Colin Barrett in the Paris Review The stories in Colin Barrett’s debut, Young Skins, are set in the fictional town of Glanbeigh in the west of Ireland. “My town is nowhere you have been,” says the hungover narrator of the opening story, “but you know it’s ilk.” And we do. This is post-recession, small town Ireland. The opportunities for escape are slim. …

short story collections | edge of evening

#shortstoryaday

Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait. Mavis Gallant, 1996 (Preface to her Selected Stories, Bloomsbury 1997) I love short stories. I read them. I buy them. And I really love what Mavis Gallant has to say about them too (so much so, that I’ve quoted her here before). Yes, stories can wait. But then I noticed just how much waiting some of the collections on my short story shelf (you have one too, right?) were doing. Waiting and waiting and waiting. I blame the intimidating heft of some of those collected/selected volumes. What a commitment to start ploughing through all of Cheever or Carver or Maxwell, or even dear Mavis herself. A short story collection works best for me when I read a story a day until it’s done. There’s enough space left around each story (Read one. Shut the book.), but there’s also the sense of …