400 short stories: story 302

story: “Girls, At Play”

author: Celeste Ng

year: 2010

where: It is almost 6PM, but it feels like mid-afternoon.

note: First-person plural story. One part of this story feels like the scene in Clueless with Cher gives Brittany Murphy a makeover.

a line: “Don’t tell anyone if you hate it, if his tongue feels like a dead fish in your mouth, if his hands leave snail-trails of sweat down your sides.”

theme(s): Cliques, loss of innocence, high school

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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

300 short stories: story 287

story: “Thunderstruck”

author: Elizabeth McCracken

year: 2015

where: Father of the Gazelle

note: Novella

a line:  “Laura was more outgoing, so she had to introduce her brother to friends–but once she had her own children she understood comparison was necessary. It was how you discovered their personalities: the light of one child threw the other child into relief, no different from how she, at thirteen, had known what she looked like only by comparing the length of her legs and the color of her hair to her friends and their legs and their hair.”

theme(s):  Fathers and daughters, Americans abroad, loss, brain damage

300 short stories: story 268

story: “Contract Overseas”

author: Mia Alvar

year: 2015

where: Bagdad Theater on Hawthorne Blvd.

note: I love brother sister sibling stories. This collection was recommended to me in Aspen.

a line:  “After the cafés closed, they spilled into the dormitories to prolong such life-and-death debates as whether literature had social duties, as Salvador Lopez believed, or whether art’s only obligation was to art itself, as Jose Garcia Villa did.”

theme(s): Siblings, sacrifice, education, womanhood, writing

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