300 short stories:: story 164

story: “The Great Wall of China”

author: Kafka

year: published 1931, written 1917

where: outside, nice autumn weather in the Dhabs

note: a story about nation-building, oh brilliant brilliant Kafka

a line: “In this respect of course our own age had a great advantage over that long-past one; almost every educated contemporary was a mason by profession and infallible in the matter of laying foundation. But that was not at all what the scholar was driving at; instead he claimed that the Great Wall alone would create, for the first time in history of mankind, a secure foundation for a new Tower of Babel. ”

Advertisements

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 153

story: Cecilia Awakened 

author: Tessa Hadley

year: 2018

where:  il mio ufficio

note:

a line: “Her mother, Cecilia’s grandmother, who was elegant and drank and had lovers, had remonstrated when Angela was younger: if only she’d move more gracefully, less jerkily, if only she’d try contact lenses and wear dresses instead of shirts and slacks. Angela had advanced unhappily toward middle age, when such pressures would surely come to an end. And then before she was forty, when she was on her third book—her second had been a minor hit—and just around the time that she met Ken, her mother died, and so never knew that her awkward daughter had succeeded in hooking a man after all. Weeping angry tears, Angela allowed herself this bitterness when the funeral was over, mocking herself and her mother—but only when she was alone, in her most private thoughts.”

300 short stories:: story 152

story: The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street

author: Mavis Gallant

year: 1963, originally; 2002 collection (reprint)

where:  mon bureau

note: the title of this collection comes from the fact that Gallant wrote these stories in Paris, but they are set in many places

a line: “His social compass was out of order because the others couldn’t tell Peter and Agnes apart.”