story: “Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When”
author: Karen Shepard
where: Car from Dubai
note: 9/11 story
a line: “She simultaneously believes herself to be in no way enviable and the most interesting person in the room.”
theme(s): Adultery, grief, tragedy
story: “Eating Fish Alone”
author: Lydia Davis
where: Home, in bed
note: In The New Yorker, Davis’ eyes have been described as “blue milk glass”…and this sentence could almost constitute the length of an average story by Davis. In truth, I’ve read several dozen of her stories this week, but they are so short, it feels unconscionable to list them all here individually.
P.S. Thank you Isabella Simonetti for the book.
a line: “‘Most people don’t eat them,’ she said matter-of-factly. I thought of the waste, and the care with which the chef prepared, over and over again, the vegetables that no one ate.”
theme(s): Sustainability, consumption, solitude, eating out
story: “A Woman, Young and Old”
author: Grace Paley
year: Grace’s first (of three) story collections was published when she was in her late 30s; this story appeared in that first collection. 1959!
where: mio ufficio, before my Italian lesson
note: The title of this story comes from a Yeats poem, where the poet explores the idea that sex is the only thing the transcends over time.
a line: “’Men are different than women,’ said Joanna, and it’s the only thing she says in this entire story.”
theme(s): Wartime romance, female competition, young love
story: “Taking Care”
author: Joy Williams
where: NYUAD Library
note: POV is so interesting in this story; I like how Williams keeps us locked onto the character Jonas, but then flies over to his daughter in Mexico or into the future.
a line: “She is going to Mexico, where soon, in the mountains, she will have a nervous breakdown. Jones does not know this, but his daughter has seen it in the stars and is going out to meet it.’”
theme(s): Afterlife, Anagogy, Family
story: “The Lonesome Bodybuilder” & “Q&A” & “Fitting Room”
author: Yukiko Motoya
year: 2018 (English translation)
where: Around Hiroshima
note: “The Lonesome Bodybuilder” had a very different ending than I had expected, but “Fitting Room” was probably the most strange and enjoyable of the three, though they all have their own level of discomfort, of being a bit off-kilter.
a line: “I stood up and went to the window, and nervously struck a pose at him. Both arms up and bent by my head, chest out, emphasizing my V-taper. My husband looked incredulous as I posed in my bikini.’”
theme(s): loss of identity, lack of intimacy