story: “Our Mothers Before Them”
author: Jenny Zhang, who I stumbled upon at Shakespeare & Company last summer in Paris
where: Abu Dhabi
note: From the NYer, “Sour Heart is a feminist bildungsroman—the narrators act upon their world just as much as the world acts upon them—and it depicts, from start to finish, a collective coming of age.”
&: This is definitely a long short story, a very good one.
a line: “My mother got up and drew the microphone to her lips and spoke into it, breathy and slow. ‘YES. It. Was. A. Good. Thing. In. The. End.”
theme(s): Mothers and daughters; immigration; siblings; manic-depression
story: Why Were They Throwing Bricks?
author: Jenny Zhang
where: the gold sofa
note: I bought this book on a whim after stumbling upon the author reading at Shakespeare and Company in Paris this July.
a line: “I was old enough to understand how one of trauma’s many possible effects was to make the traumatized person insufferable, how my grandmother’s unwillingness to be a victim was both pathetic and impressive and made her deserving of at least some compassion, but fuck, why did she have to be so greedy for it?”
story: Ghosts and Empties
author: Lauren Groff
where: Paris, 11th arrondissement
note: Wow, Groff has written a story about women walking, and joined the ranks of this great tradition of literature. Groff has some stories I really like–“At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners”–and others I could leave; this is one to take, though all her work feels so autobiographical these days, which is harmless, perhaps.
a line: “It’s too much, it’s too much, I shout at my husband some nights when I come home, and he looks at me, afraid, this giant gentle man, and sits up in bed over his computer and says, softly, I don’t think you’ve walked it off yet, sweets, you may want to take one more loop.”
& an extra line:
“I smell the jasmine potent in my hair the next morning, the way I used to smell cigarette smoke and sweat after going to a night club, back when I was young and could do such unthinkable things.”