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,

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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

400 short stories: story 301

story: “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

author: Flannery O’Connor

year: 1953

where: Sum of Us

note: I read this story real slow today, drinking lemon ice tea. Maybe the slowest I ever read it, and in this slowness, it felt more violent than ever.

a line:  “Behind them the line of woods gaped like a dark open mouth.”

theme(s): Survival, murder, the South, grace

300 short stories: story 283

story: “Train”

author: Alice Munro

year: 2012

where: post-Flywheel, Social House (terrible breakfast)

note: “I have never kept diaries. I just remember a lot and am more self-centered than most people,” from an interview with Alice Munro about the book. This story went in places I did not expect it to go.

a line:  “She had caught the terrible flu of 1918 in which so many people died, and when she came out of it she was strange. Not really mute, because she could make words, but had lost many of them.”

theme(s): Post-WWII, trains, small towns, country vs. city, running away

300 short stories: story 282

story: “To Reach Japan”

author: Alice Munro

year: 2012

where: Starbucks, Festival City

note: I picked up this book for only 39 dirhams–Dear Life–and the writing is so good, so much denser than what I’ve been reading, books by younger contemporary female writers, mostly. Her style (as well as the font) reminds me of the Maeve Binchy books of my childhood.

a line:  “In the decade that they had already entered but that she at least had not taken much notice of, there was going to be a lot of attention paid to this sort of thing. Being there was to mean something it didn’t use to mean.”

theme(s): Adultery, feminism, marriage, writing life, mothers and daughters, trains