And suddenly the whole Pandora’s box of race, with all the unconscious, unintended, even unrecognized withholdings of respect, status, privilege, even rights we never thought about, much less understood at the time, embedded as they were in custom and usage, would open up to silence us completely.
Never judge a book by its cover…..
The cover art of What You’ve Been Missing is a painting by Roger Brown called It’s a Wonderful Lie and is as telling as the short story collection written by Janet Desaulniers. A rectangular piece of art divided into eight sections, It’s a Wonderful Lie depicts life as we live and the impending disaster ahead: we come together and marry; we divorce and part; we enjoy a drive in a convertible and unexpectedly get hit by a truck; we run our businesses and we go to jail; and finally, we exercise and strengthen our bodies only to succumb to death. Read more
..honey, this is life. You learn to live with guilt. You do the best you can. Believe me, you don’t get away with anything in this life. You’re going to pay the price, so you make sure you get your money’s worth.
Friendly Fire, a collection of 11 short stories written by Kathryn Chetkovich was awarded the John Simmons Short Fiction Award from the University of Iowa. Although 16 years have passed since the book was published, this treasury of short stories is as relevant today as when they were first read in 1998. Forthright but with a subtle message and often open-ended, these stories don’t have twists or imply completion primarily because the stories deal with tough issues: envy, irony, dishonesty, loyalty, teenage angst, aging, friendship, marriage, love, lust, and responsibility – highly charged emotions that inspire loose ends and don’t take well to predictability. Read more
Safe As Houses is a collection of short stories written by Marie-Helene Bertino and winner of The Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). The title of the book – Safe As Houses – signifies what most of us believe a home should be: a haven from the outside world where families celebrate holidays and display refrigerator art and framed photographs, but Bertino shows the reader that home can also be a house that is wiped away in an instant, a place we flee from, or a prison in which we lock the world out. Despite the general belief that people are safe in their homes, the truth can be entirely different because what makes a house a home is its inhabitants, not the brick and mortar – and people can be dangerous. Read more
Everybody needs somebody. Just one other person who is as faithful to them as they are to themselves.
Winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award (the John Simons Short Fiction Award) in 2013, If I’d Known You Were Coming is a collection of 12 short stories written by Kate Milliken. Although each story stands alone, many of the colorful characters reappear in several of the narratives which makes parts of the book appear to be a novella. The common theme that runs through all the stories is the dysfunctional characters – people who abandon or neglect their children, chase addictions, skirt responsibility, or succumb to their fears or desires – whose flaws impose great harm upon others.
In these times, strange times that they are, seeing someone do something that’s not patently selfish and fucked-up is like a breath of fresh air, good clean fresh air, not that any one of us would know good clean fresh air if a vial of it swooped down and bit us on the ass!
George Saunders has a way with words that makes his short stories both horrific and hilarious. A writer with a message, Saunders writes of modern-day culture – corporate greed, authority, inequality, socio-economic class, narcissism, hate, racism, helicopter parenting, plastic surgery, obesity, physical perfection – and magnifies them a thousand times to make a point: we live in one messed-up world. Read more
I wonder if our current cultural susceptibility to the charms of materialism – our increasing willingness to see psychology as chemical, identity as genetic, and behavior as the product of bygone exigencies of human evolution – isn’t intimately related to the postmodern resurgence of the oral and the eclipse of the written: our incessant telephoning, our ephemeral e-mailing, our steadfast devotion to the flickering tube. Read more
You and all the inheritors of wealth who think life is a matter of perfected sentiment. You are wrong.
Adam Haslett’s first published book, You Are Not A Stranger Here was a both a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. – a notable achievement that few writers attain. A collection of nine short stories, You Are Not A Stranger Here was written by a master storyteller who skillfully weaves psychosis, devotion, death, clairvoyance, neglect, suicide, abandonment, and homosexuality into the lives of his characters. Cleverly written, many of the stories contain a train wreck the reader rarely sees coming which is the beauty of Haslett’s writing – the element of surprise. Read more