300 short stories:: story 115

story: The Man Who Committed Suicide 
author: Morton Marcus 
year:  1998
where: High line, NYU Abu Dhabi campus, hammock
note: check out Jim Savio’s short film “Tabiib” adapted from this story
a line: “Each evening the man would climb to his room above the city and read the newspaper.”
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300 short stories:: story 114

story: The Eleventh Floor 
author: Charles Baxter
year: 1998
where: Abu Dhabi, bedroom, sleepy

note: father and son story (and story about mortality)

a line: “Oh, I get it. You went up north looking for nature, and you found it, and you brought it back, and there it, I mean she, is. Overbite, straight hair, chapped hands, whopping tits, and all.”

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.”

300 short stories:: story 110

story: Her First Elk 

author: Rick Bass

year: 2003

where: work, Saadiyat, between meetings

note: I did not expect to like this story as much as I did.

a line: “And once they had the elk overturned, Ralph emasculated it with his skinning knife, cutting off the ponderous genitals and tossing them farther into the field with no self-consciousness; it was merely the work that needed doing.”

300 short stories:: story 109

story: A Bowl of the Real Thing

author: Eugenia Chao

year: 2006

where: home, pacing in the living room

note: This story comes from the Painted Bride Quarterly vault (published the year I entered college–long before I was on the PBQ Editorial Board).

a line: “The house we approached, which belonged to Wan Jen’s father, looked like it had been split in half and the other half had run away.”