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


400 short stories: story 309

story: “Granddaughters”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2015

where: Some taxi rides.

note: First-Personal Plural

a line: “Could we have misjudged the seriousness of their relationship? Galina had been as vivid as stained glass, but we hadn’t imagined that Kolya might have been the sunlight saturating her.”

theme(s): Survival, jealousy, gossip, legacy

400 short stories: story 307

story: “The Leopard”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2015

where: A bed on the 33rd floor.

note: There’s a description near the end where the narrator, Roman, considers all the folks responsible for erasing people, and it makes me think of the book Ordinary Men.

a line: “It takes nothing less than the whole might of the state to erase a person, but only the error of one individual–if that is what memory is now called–to preserve her.

theme(s): Censorship, war, siblings,

400 short stories: story 306

story: “Meat”

author: Leah Hampton

year: 2019

where: Dubai

note: I love how Alison and the sow are both survivors (somewhat).

a line: “Hogs are just flesh, and they had indeed cooked, alive in the fire, through the night. As they approached, the scent of smoke and carnage made a wall Alison could almost lean into.

theme(s): Modern farming, education, food industry

300 short stories: story 295

story: “The Boy”

author: Joyce Carol Oates

year: 1988

where: the Ikea kitchen table

note: This story is one long sentence! No, wait, two sentences.

a line:  “I opened his pants and took hold of him but he was soft, breathing fast and shallow, was he afraid?…”

theme(s): Teacher student relationship, sex, desperation