300 short stories:: story 163

story: “Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work”

author: Meghan Phillips

year: 2018

where: 我的办公室 (again)

note: This short short story has the punch at the end like contemporary English poetry. Maybe it has something to do with its length too; though it would not be mistaken for a prose poem.

a line: “He’s happy to be a reference, but he’s not sure how much weight the words of a clown will carry.”

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300 short stories:: story 162

story: “Here Comes the Sun”

author: Yeo Wei Wei

year: 2017

where: 我的办公室

note: Reminds me of Rachel Heng’s “Vegetarian” from Prairie Schooner

a line: “Before the mynah, other birds, insects and small animals visited the room. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies – they flitted in and out, resting on the bright pink curtains or on the rim of the enamel washbasin with its gaily painted flowers.”

300 short stories:: story 162

story: Love Machine

author: Samantha Hunt

year: 2017

where: home physically, but mentally with The Man Who Fell to Earth

note: George Saunders, Ovid, and Dostoevsky would have a party in this story

a line: “’Machines,’ he continues, ‘have one of only two choices. Either they are run by humans or else they run themselves. And the way I see it, either choice is no good for me.’”

300 short stories:: story 161

story: The Black Cat

author: Edgar Allen Poe

year: 1843

where: mio ufficio

note: Someone left this fine story at the printer! Snatched! Also, this story was first printed in Philadelphia, my home city. A good story for a Halloween mood.

a line: “My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame.”

300 short stories:: story 160

story: Flaubert Again 

author: Anne Carson

year: 2018

where:  Ville de Paris

note: what a tour de force…is this a future of the short short story or something else?

a line: “While they were there, she’d renounced writing. Instead, she made sketches in a sketchbook and titled it “The Glass of Water,” as if that were what everyone was looking for, a glass of water in Greece, not a different kind of novel or some not-stupid sentences.”

300 short stories:: story 159

story: Benito Cereno

author: Herman Melville

year: 1856

where:  work after reading Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past

note: People often cannot conceive of reality’s happenings, because the truth is unthinkable to them.

a line: “That moment, across the long-benighted mind of Captain Delano, a flash of revelation swept, illuminating, in unanticipated clearness, his host’s whole mysterious demeanor, with every enigmatic event of the day, as well as the entire past voyage of the San Dominick. He smote Babo’s hand down, but his own heart smote him harder.”

300 short stories:: story 158

story: What Terrible Thing It Was

author: Esmé Weijun Wan

year: 2017 (but read in 2018’s Best American Short Stories)

where:  home with Bowie

note: I remember the morning I found out Trump won too. I was plant-sitting at a magical apartment in Al Ain Towers with my then-boyfriend, who woke me up to break the news. We drank coffee on the biggest sofa and then, the parking lot at work was silent

a line: “In terms of depression, however, sadness is not so much my problem, in which case it might make most sense to choose I DO NOT FEEL SAD. Yet it is my belief that this could never be the right answer as long as I am alive.”