300 short stories: story 262

story: “Blame”

author: Aimee Bender

year: 2019

where: California Zephyr Train

note: From the last issue of Tin House

a line: “Buy more, said the lady. Rich lady. Come back to Yum-Yum. Eat yum-yum. Clog your arteries. Enjoy life.”

theme(s): Miscarriage, class, wealth, blame

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300 short stories: story 261

story: “The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear”

author: Kelly Link

year: 2019

where: California Zephyr Train

note: From the last issue of Tin House

a line: “They don’t have sex shops in Quebec? After that, Martine went through this whole phrase.”

theme(s): Mothers and Daughters, Queer relationships, travel, fear

300 short stories: story 260

story: “Triumph of the Grave”

author: Denis Johnson

year: 2018

where: Holiday Chalet, Denver

note: This is my favorite of the Johnson stories I have read so far. The end really lights up. I think part of the reason is the other stories I have read have been very male heavy without any central female characters or spirit.

a line: “Malcolm had gone to generous lengths in order to get Liz here for this last meeting and parting with Link, just as he not only enabled but encouraged their telephone conversations, pressing himself into these services out of some poetic inkling, I’m willing to assume, some unbearable intuition of the rightness and even the beauty of the facts.”

theme(s): Death, friendship, illness

300 short stories: story 258 & 259

story: “The Starlight on Idaho” & “Strangler Bob”

author: Denis Johnson

year: 2018

where: Denver, Mile High City, cielo notturno

note: I learned about Antabuse.

a line: “When the Devil gets that last hook in your heart, then he starts yanking you town to town.”

theme(s): Addiction, mortality, criminality, society

300 short stories: story 257

story: “Paul’s Case”

author: Willa Cather

year: 1905

where: Seattle (I feel cool just being here!)

note: A true gem of the American canon; a classic!

a line: “He felt now that his surroundings explained him.”

theme(s): Transformation, cities vs. country, time, homosexuality, isolation