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 253

story: “Wild Milk”

author: Sabrina Orah Mark

year: 2014

where: Abu Dhabi, last day of Eid holiday

note: From Tin House

a line: “In the hallway, I pass a mother covered in daughters. I count approximately five. I hold up my bundled son, like a form of identification. Like he will provide me safe passage across the border. “No daughters?” she asks. “No,” I say. “No daughters.” “How come?” she asks. She seems to be blaming me, unfairly.”

theme(s): Motherhood, surrealism, letting go

300 short stories: story 248

story: “Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When”

author: Karen Shepard

year: 2017

where: Car from Dubai

note: 9/11 story

a line: “She simultaneously believes herself to be in no way enviable and the most interesting person in the room.”

theme(s): Adultery, grief, tragedy

300 short stories: story 247

story: “Fire Horse”

author: Karen Shepard

year: 2017

where: Home, in bed

note: I love this story, though I hesitate to call it one story. It feels like two stories about the same characters. Margaret Atwood has two stories like that in Bluebeard’s Egg, but she chose to split them into two titles and group them beside each other.

a line: “Weeks before we left New York, my grandmother had told me over the phone from her apartment in Paris that it was only a matter of time before my mother would lose interest in me, now that I was grown up.”

theme(s): Families, siblings, mothers and daughters, heritage, love

300 short stories: story 242

story: “The Falling Girl”

author: Dino Buzzati

year: 2018

where: Morning with coffee, kitchen table

note: I read this story in English (Translated by Lawrence Venuti), but now I am on the hunt to read it in its original Italian.

a line: “The beautiful people, then, were interested in her and that filled her with satisfaction. She felt fascinating, stylish.”

theme(s): Suicide, wealth, loneliness, class, womanhood