story: “The Entire Northern Side Was Covered with Fire”
author: Rivka Galchen
where: casa e lavoro
note: this story is more an experience than a memory-maker
a line: “The novel was a love story, between a bird and a whale. Why was I already low on money? Partially because money just flies, as they say, or I guess it’s time they say about that, the flying, but money, too. Very winged.”
story: “Here Comes the Sun”
author: Yeo Wei Wei
note: Reminds me of Rachel Heng’s “Vegetarian” from Prairie Schooner
a line: “Before the mynah, other birds, insects and small animals visited the room. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies – they flitted in and out, resting on the bright pink curtains or on the rim of the enamel washbasin with its gaily painted flowers.”
story: Cecilia Awakened
author: Tessa Hadley
where: il mio ufficio
a line: “Her mother, Cecilia’s grandmother, who was elegant and drank and had lovers, had remonstrated when Angela was younger: if only she’d move more gracefully, less jerkily, if only she’d try contact lenses and wear dresses instead of shirts and slacks. Angela had advanced unhappily toward middle age, when such pressures would surely come to an end. And then before she was forty, when she was on her third book—her second had been a minor hit—and just around the time that she met Ken, her mother died, and so never knew that her awkward daughter had succeeded in hooking a man after all. Weeping angry tears, Angela allowed herself this bitterness when the funeral was over, mocking herself and her mother—but only when she was alone, in her most private thoughts.”
story: How Can I help?
author: Rivka Galchen
where: kitchen table in front of half-finished buildings and an artificial billabong
note: In an unrelated New York Times article, the journalist writes on Galchen, “A while back, the writer Rivka Galchen, visiting a writing seminar of mine, was asked by a student why she made the main character of her novel ‘Atmospheric Disturbances’ a man. She replied that if her emotionally remote and highly cerebral narrator were a woman, that narrator would be called unlikable at best, unbelievable at worst. ”
a line: “Maybe if I could actually be nice to my sister, in my heart, I wouldn’t have to be so nice to her in the pastures and parking lots of our real world.”
story: American Dreams
author: Peter Carey
where: airplane, somewhere over Europa
note: My first Peter Carey short story and the theme works in nicely with a non-fiction essay I have been working on, actually. Bingo!
a line: “On Bald Hill there are half a dozen telescopes through which the Americans can spy on the town and reassure themselves that it is the same down there as it is on Bald Hill.”
story: Sun Dogs
author: Dorthe Nors
where: Abu Dhabi, Katie’s at the Mangroves
note: I realize I don’t know enough Danish writers, but I should. This story reminds me of my favorite stories of Rick Bass. This looks like a good starting point.
a line: “Later we also went out riding on her Fjord horses. She talked about the landscape, the kinds of tracks animals left, and how the winter we were entering would feel. We never spoke of Olav.”
story: Three Friends in a Hammock
author: April Ayers Lawson
where: Fiumicino Airport, Roma
note: I liked this story more than I thought I would when I started it. First person plural done well!
a line: “I thought of how we try to tell people, I am the one who really loves you, maybe most especially when we are not sure that person loves us.”