400 short stories: story 314

story: “The Miracle Worker”

author: Mia Alvar

year: 2011

where: with the boys

note: the spray bottle finale stunned me

a line: “Minnie turned to look toward the parking lot. ‘I was eighteen when I came here. I’m forty now. I’ve never done anything but clean rich Arabs’ houses.”

theme(s): Disability, class, ethics


400 short stories: story 313

story: “A Dream of Men”

author: Mary Gaitskill

year: 1988

where: Home, kitchen table

note:  Apparently this story is discussed by Ben Marcus and Deborah Treisman on an episode of The New Yorker: Fiction podcast; I’ll have to give it a listen this week. 

a line: “Ever since then, Laura had felt good around Dr. Ramirez. Every time she saw her, she thought, Ways to be a loving person.”

theme(s): Sexuality, death, aging, desire

400 short stories: story 312

story: “Sealed Off”

author: Eileen Chang

year: 1944 (English translation 2016)

where: Blacksmith Coffee

note:  Chang’s studies were interrupted in Hong Kong when the Japanese attacked (the same week as Pearl Harbor). Chang returned to Shanghai. All Chang’s stories (to my knowledge) are set in either Hong Kong or Shanghai.

a line: “But,” said Cuiyuan, “a girl from a good family won’t want to be a concubine, will she? And so many legal problems…”

theme(s): Modern love, wartime, anti-romance, occupation, dream

400 short stories: story 311

story: “The Stone”

author: Louise Erdrich

year: 2019

where: Happiness Island

note:  “This story is about finding solace in an entity that isn’t human.” -Erdrich

a line: “A stone is, in its own way, a living thing, not a biological being but one with a history far beyond our capacity to understand or even imagine.”

& “A stone is a thought that the earth develops over inhuman time. It is a living thing to some cultures and a dead thing to others.”

theme(s): Inanimate and animate objects,

400 short stories: story 310

story: “The Grozny Tourist Bureau”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2015

where: Casa, sonnolento

note: The opening image of the verdigris-encrusted statue rising from the debris reminds me of Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

a line: “The minister set down his silverware and began sorting through the little trout bones on his plate, reconstructing the skeleton of the fish he had consumed.”

theme(s): Postwar, loss, disability, tourism industry