300 short stories: story 265

story: “Pet Milk”

author: Stuart Dybek

year: 1984

where: Aspen

note: I want to try a King Alphonse drink sometime.

a line:  “There was a yellow plastic radio on her kitchen table, usually tuned to the polka station, though sometimes she’d miss it by half a notch and get the Greek station instead, or the Spanish, or the Ukrainian. In Chicago, where we lived, all the incompatible states of Europe were pressed together down at the staticky right end of the dial. She didn’t seem to notice, as long as she wasn’t hearing English.”

theme(s): Memory, Associations, Young Love, Waiting,

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300 short stories: story 264

story: “Balloon Party”

author: Tom Barbash

year: 2014

where: Aspen

note: from Stay Up With Me 

a line:  “He liked the style of his parents’ friends, their breadth of experience and flowery elegance; their love of old jazz standards and good stiff drinks. Not infrequently Timkin wished that he’d lived in their day because he didn’t always feel suited to his own. Especially not now after what had happened.”

theme(s): Marriage, Thanksgiving, Parties, Separation

300 short stories: story 262

story: “Blame”

author: Aimee Bender

year: 2019

where: California Zephyr Train

note: From the last issue of Tin House

a line: “Buy more, said the lady. Rich lady. Come back to Yum-Yum. Eat yum-yum. Clog your arteries. Enjoy life.”

theme(s): Miscarriage, class, wealth, blame

300 short stories: story 261

story: “The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear”

author: Kelly Link

year: 2019

where: California Zephyr Train

note: From the last issue of Tin House

a line: “They don’t have sex shops in Quebec? After that, Martine went through this whole phrase.”

theme(s): Mothers and Daughters, Queer relationships, travel, fear

300 short stories: story 260

story: “Triumph of the Grave”

author: Denis Johnson

year: 2018

where: Holiday Chalet, Denver

note: This is my favorite of the Johnson stories I have read so far. The end really lights up. I think part of the reason is the other stories I have read have been very male heavy without any central female characters or spirit.

a line: “Malcolm had gone to generous lengths in order to get Liz here for this last meeting and parting with Link, just as he not only enabled but encouraged their telephone conversations, pressing himself into these services out of some poetic inkling, I’m willing to assume, some unbearable intuition of the rightness and even the beauty of the facts.”

theme(s): Death, friendship, illness