300 short stories:: story 181

story: “The Blue Tree”

author: Rick Bass

year: 2014-ish

where: sofa and sleepy

note: This story encapsulates the impermanence of things, things like youth, places, and moments, but also–the pleasure of reading a short story. I’m reading and rereading Rick Bass this week while pondering the destruction of Joshua Tree National Park and other parks throughout the US, caused by human hubris and malice.

a line: “He savors it, knowing it won’t always be this way. But it is now. More so than he could ever have imagined.”

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300 short stories:: story 162

story: Love Machine

author: Samantha Hunt

year: 2017

where: home physically, but mentally with The Man Who Fell to Earth

note: George Saunders, Ovid, and Dostoevsky would have a party in this story

a line: “’Machines,’ he continues, ‘have one of only two choices. Either they are run by humans or else they run themselves. And the way I see it, either choice is no good for me.’”

300 short stories:: story 153

story: Cecilia Awakened 

author: Tessa Hadley

year: 2018

where:  il mio ufficio

note: none

a line: “Her mother, Cecilia’s grandmother, who was elegant and drank and had lovers, had remonstrated when Angela was younger: if only she’d move more gracefully, less jerkily, if only she’d try contact lenses and wear dresses instead of shirts and slacks. Angela had advanced unhappily toward middle age, when such pressures would surely come to an end. And then before she was forty, when she was on her third book—her second had been a minor hit—and just around the time that she met Ken, her mother died, and so never knew that her awkward daughter had succeeded in hooking a man after all. Weeping angry tears, Angela allowed herself this bitterness when the funeral was over, mocking herself and her mother—but only when she was alone, in her most private thoughts.”

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?”