The Sunday Salon: Short Stories #1

The Sunday

Last week (thanks to the spark of an idea from Ex Libris) I made the decision to turn my Sundays into a rotation of reading short stories, then essays, then poetry, etc.

I rarely read short stories, even though I love them and sometimes write them myself. This is a great opportunity to reacquaint myself with the genre. So last night and today I've read:

  • From The Sun literary magazine: "Especially Roosevelt" by Chad Simpson, a sweet story about a disturbed 6 year old foster child who witnessed more in his little life than anyone should, especially a child. (If you don't know this magazine, I encourage you to check it out - always filled with wonderful writing: essays, stories, poetry and a section for readers to contribute short essays about a chosen subject.)
  • From Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri: "A Temporary Matter" and "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine." I've heard about this book for quite some time and had some misconceptions about it - first, I thought the author was male, and second, I thought it was a novel. Everyone raved about it, though, and so far that part is spot on. These two stories were tender and touching. Relationships through the lens of loss and fear. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of these stories.
  • From The Portable Dorothy Parker: "Song of the Shirt, 1941" and "From the Diary of a New York Lady." Oh Dorothy -- she must have had a permanent dent in her cheek where her tongue resided. I confess, I haven't read much of her work, just bits and pieces over the years, but I have always loved everything I've read. This is a library book and I think I'll hang onto it as long as I can and dip into it - especially when I need a good laugh or a biting social commentary. ~~I don't know much about being a millionaire, but I bet I'd be darling at it.~~ One of my favorite DP quotes.
  • From Best American Short Stories 1999: "In the Kindergarten" by Ha Jin (originally published in Five Points). Still reading.

I haven't made as much progress with War and Peace as I'd hoped. The danger of supplemental reading with a monster book like this is that I get so into the other book that I reach for it first and War and Peace languishes on the shelf. This week it's been Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's my first Ishiguro book, and now I know what all the fuss is about. He's brilliant. I won't even reveal what the story is about, because part of the wonderfulness of reading it is peeling the layers of onion -- he teases the story out so slowly and carefully and masterfully. The Remains of the Day will be following shortly - I've heard it's even better.

I hope you're enjoying spring where you are (or autumn, in the case of Down Under). In Portland it's been pretty wild the last few days, like it can't decide what season to be. We've had rain, snow, hail, wind, thunder, freezing temps and warm sun - and that was just the first few hours yesterday! See you next Sunday (I will be late to the party, returning from a weekend retreat).

All in a day's reading.


Andi said...

So much to comment on! I loved Interpreter of Maladies, for one. "A Temporary Matter" was probably my favorite story, but they were really all very good.

I'll definitely look for The Sun.

I have Never Let Me Go on my nightstand. For a scandalously long time, actually. I'm glad you're enjoying it! It's on my list for the 2008 TBR Challenge, so maybe I'll bump it up on the stack.

Megan said...

I like the idea to rotate the focus of your Sunday Salon. When I first found the group I was already planning Short Story Sunday. My first TSS post was in fact on a short story but I have not read one since. I have seemed to have gotten a bit distracted.

Right now I am just struggling to finish read ANYTHING. I just keep picking up new things. I am forcing myself to finish something today because the whole situation is frustrating me.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to stop in and say hi. I am new to The Sunday Salon. Hope you have fun on your trip!

Irish said...

I'm so glad that you've discovered Dorothy Parker. She is my all time favorite poet and I just in general consider her to be a goddess. She is such an amazing writer and lived such an amazing life. There is even a biopic of her called Mrs Parker and the Viscious Circle starring Jennifer Jason Leigh as DP.

I stumbled across Parker by chance. Every so often I go to the library wander the stacks aimlessly and then when it feels right I reach out and grab a book from the shelf. Not looking at it until after I check it out. I've discovered some amazing reads this way...many of which I never would have if I didn't use this method. I highly recommend your buying the Portable Dorothy Parker. Its a great little pick me up when life is giving you the mean reds. She just has an amazing razor sharp wit.

I read Never Let Me Go earlier this year and also found it to be a beautiful read. I will definately revisit Ishiguro at some point in the near future. =)

Terri said...

Irish, you're such an enabler! Encouraging me to buy a book... Oh, alright, if you insist!

Terri said...

Megan - maybe short stories would be just the thing for you right now since you're struggling to finish books. I find them quite satisfying, usually. Recommend Amy Bloom's collection Come to Me and the one mentioned above, Interpreter of Maladies for some good contemporary stories. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm no great reader of short stories, but I loved the Lahiri. I believe she has a new novel out at some point this year. I'm also in the middle of a very interesting collection by Sophie Hannah 'The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets' which I picked up because I love her thrillers. I'll probably post on it later in the week.

Terri said...

TableTalk - someone just alerted me to the new Lahiri coming out in April - it is another collection of short stories.

Debra Hamel said...

I really enjoyed Remains of the Day. I haven't read Never Let Me Go yet, but it's on the shelves.

Your problem with grabbing Ishiguro over War and Peace is one reason I find it hard to read more than one book at a time. At most I'll read two, one fiction and one non-fiction. But usually I hold at one.

Terri said...

I used to read just one fiction at a time too, Debra, but when I'm reading these bigger books I find I need to take a break from them every so often and still want to read fiction. I'll get back to W&P, I'm too invested - and interested - in it not to!

Debra Hamel said...

I can understand that. I guess that's why I tend to shy away from long books these days. I feel a pressure to get more read!