story: “To Reach Japan”
author: Alice Munro
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
story: “The Locker Room”
author: Ottessa Moshfegh
where: Somewhere in Dubai
note: The ending is a stunner.
a line: “But I never did try very hard to please my mother. In fact, I never tried hard to please anybody at all after that day in the locked room. Now I only try hard to please myself. That is all that matters here. That is the secret thing I found.”
theme(s): Young love, individuality, angst, mothers and daughters
story: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
author: Joyce Carol Oates
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
story: “Light as a Feather”
author: Karen Shepard
where: Abu Dhabi
note: First weekend back from the USA
a line: “Their story bored her. Their infertility bored her. It was the same as a million other people’s, some of whom she’d met in waiting rooms, all eying each other, as if there were only so many babies and the criteria for getting one hadn’t been made clear.”
theme(s): Miscarriage, dementia, mothers and daughters, marriage
story: “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us”
author: Laura van den Berg
where: Reed College
note: I have been time-sharing under a rock; this is my first read by the author, though I’ve known her existence for a long time now. I was fortunate to hear her read last night at Tin House.
a line: “Madagascar was not the first expedition on which I had accompanied my mother.”
theme(s): Mothers and daughters, adventure, separation, loss, survival, aging