300 short stories: story 275

story: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

author: Joyce Carol Oates

year: 1966

where: Casa

note: Damon and I also watched Smooth Talk, the 1985 movie based on the short story. Much debate ensued.

a line:  “But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face but an idea, a feeling, mixed up with the urgent insistent pounding of the music and the humid night air of July.”

theme(s): Dating, Mothers and daughters, Sexuality, Vanity


300 short stories: story 274

story: “The Witch”

author: Shirley Jackson

year: 1949

where: kitchen table

note: I’m looking for a story I read by Jackson a long time ago. I think the woman’s name is Mrs. X.

a line:  “He was an elderly man, with a pleasant face under white hair; his blue suit was only faintly touched by the disarray that comes from a long train trip.”

theme(s): Train travel, strangers, motherhood, witches

300 short stories: story 271

story: “In the Shadow of Man”

author: Bell Boggs

year: 2018

where: Al Reem Island, babycakes

note: So many great observations about liberals and charter schools, but instead of being funny like one might expect, the observations are rather alarming and sometimes harmful.

a line:  “Maybe Todd and Lori were having issues like that—Lori a programmer, so friendly and competent, and Todd with his weird odd jobs and reptiles, his way of standing silently off to the side at school functions, arms crossed over his belly. Ben could hardly even call his voice to mind, and he knew that it was hard to feel voiceless, extraneous. But that was a lot to put in a text.”

theme(s): Parenting, charter schools, liberals, school trips

300 short stories: story 244

story: “Eating Fish Alone”

author: Lydia Davis

year: 2014

where: Home, in bed

note: In The New Yorker, Davis’ eyes have been described as “blue milk glass”…and this sentence could almost constitute the length of an average story by Davis. In truth, I’ve read several dozen of her stories this week, but they are so short, it feels unconscionable to list them all here individually.

P.S. Thank you Isabella Simonetti for the book.

a line: “‘Most people don’t eat them,’ she said matter-of-factly. I thought of the waste, and the care with which the chef prepared, over and over again, the vegetables that no one ate.”

theme(s): Sustainability, consumption, solitude, eating out

300 short stories: story 241

story: “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden”

author: Denis Johnson

year: 2018

where: Le Brioche

note: This is the title story from Johnson’s collection and is an assigned reading for my workshop class in Aspen Words.

a line: “Rather than memorializing him, we found ourselves asking, ‘Who the hell was this guy?”

theme(s): Aging, death, career