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 305

story: “Chechnya”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2010

where: kitchen table, Abu Dhabi

note: Marra’s novel is on my list.

a line: “Time was marked not by minutes but by men. Eight one night, eleven the next. Each felt like a porcupine between her legs. Men from Rome, Naples, and Palermo. Men from Scotland, Luxembourg, and Germany. American men. Australian men. They called her Natasha, and she didn’t understand how they knew her name. Then another woman told her: That’s what any girl from Eastern Europe is called. We’re all Natashas.

& “She read the placard, written by a Victorian phrenologist. There are no characteristics to distinguish the cranium of a cannibal from that of an ordinary man.

theme(s): War, guilt, human trafficking, sisters, refugees