400 short stories: story 310

story: “The Grozny Tourist Bureau”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2015

where: Casa, sonnolento

note: The opening image of the verdigris-encrusted statue rising from the debris reminds me of Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

a line: “The minister set down his silverware and began sorting through the little trout bones on his plate, reconstructing the skeleton of the fish he had consumed.”

theme(s): Postwar, loss, disability, tourism industry


400 short stories: story 307

story: “The Leopard”

author: Anthony Marra

year: 2015

where: A bed on the 33rd floor.

note: There’s a description near the end where the narrator, Roman, considers all the folks responsible for erasing people, and it makes me think of the book Ordinary Men.

a line: “It takes nothing less than the whole might of the state to erase a person, but only the error of one individual–if that is what memory is now called–to preserve her.

theme(s): Censorship, war, siblings,

400 short stories: story 301

story: “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

author: Flannery O’Connor

year: 1953

where: Sum of Us

note: I read this story real slow today, drinking lemon ice tea. Maybe the slowest I ever read it, and in this slowness, it felt more violent than ever.

a line:  “Behind them the line of woods gaped like a dark open mouth.”

theme(s): Survival, murder, the South, grace

300 short stories: story 298

story: “Tancredi”

author: Barbara Alberti (translated by Lawrence Venuti)/didn’t have access to the Italian

year: 1976

where: Al Reem

note: Much like the form of Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize Speech, when asked to explain this story, Alberti, instead of answering straightforwardly, tells another story.

a line:  “She nursed the baby with one mouth at each breast, and she didn’t complain.’”

theme(s): Birth defect, god, siblings

300 short stories: story 297

story: “Homage for Isaac Babel”

author: Doris Lessing

year: 1958

where: Al Reem

note: This story has such a curious premise and there is virtually no backstory for the characters or their relationships to one another, which makes me think of Hemingway, of course.

a line:  “Philip rescued her by saying with disdain: ‘Some people don’t know right from wrong even when it’s demonstrated to them.’”

theme(s): Simplicity, maturity