300 short stories: story 256

story: “Our Mothers Before Them”

author: Jenny Zhang, who I stumbled upon at Shakespeare & Company last summer in Paris

year: 2017

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


300 short stories:: story 143

story: Why Were They Throwing Bricks? 

author: Jenny Zhang

year: 2017

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?”

300 short stories:: story 124

story: Ghosts and Empties 

author: Lauren Groff

year: 2018

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.”