Alice Munro “Night” | Short Story #341

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2020 Short Stories

story: “Night”

author: Alice Munro

year: 2012 from Dear Life 

where: Quarantine

note: This story made me think about what Zadie Smith said about the difference between the past and now, and how in the past, folks discussed things so much less. I really liked the brief rumination on psychiatry near the end.

a line: “I knew now that he had not heard me getting up and walking around on just this one night. The person whose livestock was on the premises, whose earnings such as they were lay all close by, and who kept a handgun in his desk drawer, was certainly going to stir at the slightest creeping on the stairs and the easiest turning of a knob.”

theme(s): Mother daughter, Father daughter, Coming of age, dreams, therapy

Alice Munro “Carried Away” | Short Story #340

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2020 Short Stories

story: “Carried Away”

author: Alice Munro

year: 1991

where: Quarantine

note: This story came to me by a mention from Lorrie Moore. It is such an elegant story, full of historic markers big and small. There’s something at the end (the conflation of men and memory) that reminds me of what did Susan Minot did in House of Women (also published in 1991!), though Munro’s way is more subtle. There’s also a mention of the Spanish Flu!

a line: “Every Tuesday afternoon the ladies and girls of the Red Cross met in the Council chambers, which were just down the hall from the library. When the library was empty for a few moments Louisa went down the hall and entered the room full of women.”

theme(s): War love, Communication, Accidents, Expectations

Blake Butler “The Disappeared” | Short Story #339

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2020 Short Stories

story: “The Disappeared”

author: Blake Butler

year: 2013

where: Quarantine

note: I learned about this story from a charming essay on Lit Hub by Nick Ripatrazone. It was described as “a story about a boy’s longing for his missing mother during a pandemic, and how we have to hold on to hope even when the entire world feels like it is falling apart.”

a line: “The police showed up and bent him over and led him by his face out to their car. You could hear him screaming in the lobby. He sounded like a woman.”

theme(s): Family, abuse, pandemic, hope, the state, public health

Danielle Evans “Harvest” | Short Story #338

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story: “Harvest”

author: Danielle Evans

year: 2010 from before you suffocate your own fool self

where: Quarantine

note: When I began this story, I thought it was going to be a first-person plural POV, but it surprised me into shifting into first-person singular.

a line: “Every time I call my house, even those times when I am calling because my mother has forgotten to pick me up or call me back or send me something necessary, she tells me she has just been thinking of me.”

theme(s): Intersectional feminism, race and class, motherhood, college

Danielle Evans “Snakes” | Short Story #337

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2020 Short Stories

story: “Snakes”

author: Danielle Evans

year: 2010 from before you suffocate your own fool self

where: Quarantine

note: I like how this story showed how fear can develop; the example here is a fear of snakes, but it hints at the fear of abandonment and the “other” too.

a line: “A confession: because I didn’t know the difference between kinds of intimacy back then, I told each of the first four men I slept with that he was the only one I’d ever told this story. Jason was the fourth, and the only one to call me a liar: he’d already heard the story from my roommate a week before.”

theme(s): Mothers and daughters, Fear, Abandonment