300 short stories:: story 117

story: The Country Boy
author: Yusuf al-Sibai
year:  ? (early 20th century) 
where: home, kitchen table (again!) 
note: translated by the great Denys Johnson-Davis, who was the first, really, to recognize the explosion of Arabic short story writing following WWII 
a line: “Though he looked silent and quiet, it was a case of still waters running deep. With closed eyes and lowered head, all shyness and diffidence, he would sit beside his father, oozing innocence, when all the time there wasn’t a brothel or hashish den in Tanta he hadn’t patronized.”
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300 short stories:: story 116

story: “I Only Came to Use the Phone” 
author: Gabriel García Márquez 
year:  1992
where: home, kitchen table 
note: undercurrents reminiscent of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper 
a line: “He gave her a bishop’s blessing from the door, asked her to trust him, and disappeared forever.”

300 short stories:: story 113

story: How She Remembers It 

author: Rick Bass

year: 2006

where: Muscat airport

note: father and daughter story

a line: “And it was enough, was more than enough, to have that pink cotton candy, and to be driving on, and to simply imagine, rather than really remember, what it would have been like, riding the Ferris Wheel around and around, with the whole carnival to themselves.”

300 short stories:: story 112

story: The Lives of Rocks  

author: Rick Bass

year: 2006

where: Zanzibar, overlooking the Indian ocean and drinking Coke Light from a glass bottle

note: This story masters a feeling of loneliness so profoundly as to kill it simultaneously, and connect us deeply with the sensitive and intelligent protagonist, unwell yet alive in her snowy mountain house, calling out for the–her–children in the valley. It is difficult to pick one quote. This story says so much about the persistent fight of hope and hopelessness present when you write–and live.

a line: “She continued to send messages, stories, and drawings, as well as gems and crystals and fossils–sending several out in the same day, staggered over different departure times–and in some of her drawings, as her loneliness grew, she would make little watercolor sketches of the three of them sitting around a table loaded with food, as they had at Thanksgiving, with gleaming candelabra casting a shining light upon a roast turkey, a wild goose, and all other manner of game upon their plates; and in the tiny rolled-up paintings there would be wreaths hanging on the walls, images indicating the future, Christmas, rather than the past, Thanksgiving.”

300 short stories:: story 111

story: Pagans  

author: Rick Bass

year: 2006

where: islands

note: I might have ended up doing some needless research on diving bells…

a line: “Even now, Richard thinks they missed each other by a hairs-breadth, that some sort of fate was deflected–though how or why or what, he cannot say. He thinks it might have been one of the closest misses in the history of the world.”