story: “The Shared Patio”
author: Miranda July
where: Reed College at Writer Jim Shepard’s Close Reading Craft Talk. An amazing experience!
note: I bought July’s book, No One Belongs Here More Than You, years ago at the cozy Barnes and Nobles on 6th Avenue in New York. That outpost has since closed. I remember the cover was bright yellow with bold black writing on the cover. It felt like the most New York book I had ever seen. I was intimidated to read it. I felt it was either too sophisticated for me at that stage in my life–alternatively, I wondered if it was fluff. Now, I know it was the former.
a line: “It still counts, even though it happened when he was unconscious.”
theme(s): Unrequited love, self-help, delusions, loneliness
story: “Contract Overseas”
author: Mia Alvar
where: Bagdad Theater on Hawthorne Blvd.
note: I love brother sister sibling stories. This collection was recommended to me in Aspen.
a line: “After the cafés closed, they spilled into the dormitories to prolong such life-and-death debates as whether literature had social duties, as Salvador Lopez believed, or whether art’s only obligation was to art itself, as Jose Garcia Villa did.”
theme(s): Siblings, sacrifice, education, womanhood, writing
story: “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us”
author: Laura van den Berg
where: Reed College
note: I have been time-sharing under a rock; this is my first read by the author, though I’ve known her existence for a long time now. I was fortunate to hear her read last night at Tin House.
a line: “Madagascar was not the first expedition on which I had accompanied my mother.”
theme(s): Mothers and daughters, adventure, separation, loss, survival, aging
story: “Everyone Cried”
author: Lydia Davis
where: Our Tiny House in Oregon
note: From the 2019 NYer online Flash Fiction series
a line: “After lunch, we usually felt better, and the office was filled with its normal hum and bustle, people carrying folders and walking briskly here and there, sudden bursts of laughter rising from cubicles.”
theme(s): Work life, emotions, stress, routine
story: “Pet Milk”
author: Stuart Dybek
note: I want to try a King Alphonse drink sometime.
a line: “There was a yellow plastic radio on her kitchen table, usually tuned to the polka station, though sometimes she’d miss it by half a notch and get the Greek station instead, or the Spanish, or the Ukrainian. In Chicago, where we lived, all the incompatible states of Europe were pressed together down at the staticky right end of the dial. She didn’t seem to notice, as long as she wasn’t hearing English.”
theme(s): Memory, Associations, Young Love, Waiting,