story: A Love Story
author: Samantha Hunt
where: bus from Saadiyat to the Abu Dhabi Central Post Office
note: I read this before, I realize…2/3rds of the way into it. It’s at the carrot stick I remember; the boy who wants a snack.
a line: “From one small body I made three new humans. I grew these complex beauties. I made their lungs and noses. It took everything I had to make them. Liver? Take it. Self-worth? It’s all yours. New people require natural resources and everyone knows you don’t get something for nothing. Why wouldn’t I be hollowed out? Who can’t understand this math?.”
story: The Mausoleum
author: Kristen Cosby
where: first time reading this writer
note: late-night Sydney
a line: “There were other skeletons on the shelf: clam shells and sea urchins, the dried carcass of a starfish, periwinkles, a giant lobster claw; a mouse‟s foot, the skull of a baby raccoon, a shard of deer antler; a shark‟s tooth and a flawless mackerel spine.”
author: Richard Ford
where: baby, it’s cold outside–white comfy bed, inside (winter in Australia)
note: a real solid story (of course, it’s Ford)…the best of The New Yorker in a long time
a line: “Something had disappointed her. Something transient or displaced in him. Something had been attractive to her about Niall in her fragile state, and been attractive to me, in my own rare state. But you couldn’t bank on what Niall was, which was the word my poor father used. That was what you looked for, he thought, in the people you wanted closest to you. People you could bank on.”
story: A Husband Should Be Eaten and Not Heard
author: Megan Giddings
where: Sydney, my Oaks Goldsbrough Apartment
note: from one of my favorite new literary magazines, Split Lip
a line: “She could still imitate the bridge’s moans when the wind was twenty miles per hour from the southwest. It had become exhilarating to hear that much pleasure and not be jealous.”
story: Are They Vampires, or Are They Just Chinese?
author: C Pam Zhang
note: from an interview about the story, Zhang said, “What’s creepy is my being haunted for years by the pressure to write a Sad Immigrant Story.”
a line: “We wear long driving gloves even when we don’t drive. And when we do: roof down, swinging over curbs, black hair flung back like silk, like bat wings, like flags snapping beware in language you’ll never understand.”
story: Joan of Arc Sits Naked in Her Dorm Room
author: Rachel Engelman
where: Abu Dhabi, airport apron, sitting inside one of those bulging A380-800s.
note: author is a current UT Austin/Michener MFA student
a line: “He is very politic and always asks Joan about her classes, or the book she is reading, or the fish she keeps in a wine decanter.”
story: American Dreams
author: Peter Carey
where: airplane, somewhere over Europa
note: My first Peter Carey short story and the theme works in nicely with a non-fiction essay I have been working on, actually. Bingo!
a line: “On Bald Hill there are half a dozen telescopes through which the Americans can spy on the town and reassure themselves that it is the same down there as it is on Bald Hill.”