300 short stories: story 254 & 255

story: “The Fifth Story” & “Happy Endings”

author: Clarice Lispector & Margaret Atwood

year: here and there 🙂 1950s & 1980s

where: Abu Dhabi

note: Putting these two together since their forms are similar.

a line: “In the mouths of some of the cockroaches, there are traces of white powder. I am the first to observe the dawn breaking over Pompeii.”

& “Mary gets run-down. Crying is bad for your face, everyone knows that and so does Mary but she can’t stop. People at work notice. Her friends tell her John is a rat, a pig, a dog, he isn’t good enough for her, but she can’t believe it. Inside John, she thinks, is another John, who is much nicer. This other John will emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon, a Jack from a box, a pit from a prune, if the first John is only squeezed enough.”

theme(s): Storytelling, reality, metafiction

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300 short stories: story 247

story: “Fire Horse”

author: Karen Shepard

year: 2017

where: Home, in bed

note: I love this story, though I hesitate to call it one story. It feels like two stories about the same characters. Margaret Atwood has two stories like that in Bluebeard’s Egg, but she chose to split them into two titles and group them beside each other.

a line: “Weeks before we left New York, my grandmother had told me over the phone from her apartment in Paris that it was only a matter of time before my mother would lose interest in me, now that I was grown up.”

theme(s): Families, siblings, mothers and daughters, heritage, love

300 short stories:: story 208

story: “The Salt Garden”

author: Margaret Atwood

year: 1983

where: Dubai, Common Ground

note: I adore this collection and find the protagonist Alma to be so layered.

a line: “She can’t remember ever having astonished any of her friends with tricks from the instruction book. Astonishing herself was enough.”

theme(s): time

300 short stories:: story 204 & 205

story: Two Stories about Emma “The Whirlpool Rapids” & “Walking on Water”

author: Margaret Atwood

year: 1987

where: home

note: In every story you hope to find an aha moment, and in these two connected tales, I found more than one; this was particularly true for the line below, where a man acted just like this towards me when I was in my early twenties in a hotel room in a faraway city. It was my first time experiencing this, but it has happened twice more with different men. And as women, we must find some way to reconcile that these accomplished men probably forget the incidents at all.

a line: “Emma said it looked like Newfoundland. Robbie had never been to Newfoundland, and sulked. He didn’t like the thought of Emma having been to places he hadn’t. Emma, to restore his good homur–it was too hot to be angry–said she never actually been there, she’d only seen pictures of it.”

300 short stories:: story 200

story: “Loulou; or, the Domestic Life of the Language”

author: Margaret Atwood

year: 1986

where: in the taxi, on the way to work

note: If I ever login to Facebook, I see these advertisements for Atwood’s online Masterclass and each time, it makes me want to read more of her fiction.

a line: “’Loulou thinks to reify means to make real,’ says Phil to everyone, when he’s hung up the phone. They’re always talking about her in the third person like that, telling each other what she thinks. The truth is that she’s never heard that word before in her life.”