300 short stories:: story 108

story: In Ruth’s Country

author: Rick Bass

year: 1994

where: highline, walking and reading

note: In The Theory of Light and Matter (2008), a short story collection I found in South Korea, Andrew Porter has a story called Departure about a young guy who wants to date an Amish girl. I think reading this story along with Bass’ is quite interesting. Alas, Bass is a king of allegory.

a line: “I thought because she liked the gin-and-tonics, and the river wading, and chasing cows, Ruth would change. Convert.’”

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300 short stories:: story 107

story: Wild Horses

author: Rick Bass

year: 1988

where: office, desk–finally, my Rick Bass ‘old and new’ collection arrives! A parcel from America!

note: originally published in The Paris Review around the time of my birth

a line: “He wanted to know what was owed, so he could go on.’”

300 short stories:: story 106

story: St. Clair Flats

author: Constance Fenimore Woolson

year: 1873

where: Dubai and Abu Dhabi

note: For half the story I thought the main characters were a woman and a man, and I considered this extraordinary for its time (late 19th century) since the characters seemed to be unmarried and not the least perturbed to ‘Lewis and Clark’ around the American Great Lakes, but alas, I learned the characters were two male companions!

a line: “How boundless is looks! One hill in the distance, one dark line of forest, even one tree, would break its charm. I have seen the ocean, I have seen the prairies, I have seen the great desert, but this is like a mixture of the three. It is an ocean full of land, –a prairie full of water, –a desert full of verdure.’”

300 short stories:: story 103

story: Train to Harbin 

author: Asako Serizawa

year: 2016

where: Abu Dhabi, my gold chaise lounge

note: This is a story both epic and intimately personal about a Japanese doctor stationed in Pingfang (now Northern China, then the Japanese puppet-state Manchukuo) during WWII, where terrible war crimes, including human experimentation, were committed.

a line: “Perhaps it is simply the mind, which, in its inability to accept a fact, returns to it, sharpening the details, resolving the image, searching for an explanation that the mind, with its slippery grasp on causality, will never be able to find. Most days I am spared by the habits of routine. But when the air darkens like this, turning the windows inward, truncating the afternoon, the present recedes, its thin hold on consciousness no match for the eighty-two years that have already claimed it.”

*If you want, follow me on Instagram (samantha.neugebauer) for more on what I am reading and doing. 

300 short stories:: story 102

story: Uglypuss 

author: Margaret Atwood (pre-The Handmaid’s Tale)

year: 1983

where: london, black coffee

note: this story is featured in the phenomenal collection, Bluebeard’s Egg. It also has an intriguing POV swap near the end.

a line: “Tonight, she feels dingy, old. Soon she will start getting into the firming cream; she will start worrying about her eyelids. Beginning again is supposed to be exciting, a challenge. Beginning again is fine as an idea, but what with? She’d used it all up; she’s used up.”