400 short stories: story 318

story: “The Weeping Child”

author: Jane Gardam

year: 1963

where: Burj al Salam, Dubai

note: I just ordered her collection. I love the ending of this story, because it doesn’t follow the conventional rules of short stories. “A ghost of somebody who is still alive”–amazing!

a line: “I saw only the housekeeper who was a slut and kept a television set going–with the sound turned down–the whole time I was with her. All the time she looked at it.”

theme(s): Mother daughter, ghost story, colonialism


400 short stories: story 317

story: “The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street”

author: Mavis Gallant

year: 1963

where: Burj al Salam, Dubai

note: reread

a line: “Snow, which he tasted, melted on her hands. His gesture of licking snow from her hands was formal as a handshake.”

theme(s): Self-delusion, expatriate life, storytelling, loyalty

400 short stories: story 312

story: “Sealed Off”

author: Eileen Chang

year: 1944 (English translation 2016)

where: Blacksmith Coffee

note:  Chang’s studies were interrupted in Hong Kong when the Japanese attacked (the same week as Pearl Harbor). Chang returned to Shanghai. All Chang’s stories (to my knowledge) are set in either Hong Kong or Shanghai.

a line: “But,” said Cuiyuan, “a girl from a good family won’t want to be a concubine, will she? And so many legal problems…”

theme(s): Modern love, wartime, anti-romance, occupation, dream

400 short stories: story 311

story: “The Stone”

author: Louise Erdrich

year: 2019

where: Happiness Island

note:  “This story is about finding solace in an entity that isn’t human.” -Erdrich

a line: “A stone is, in its own way, a living thing, not a biological being but one with a history far beyond our capacity to understand or even imagine.”

& “A stone is a thought that the earth develops over inhuman time. It is a living thing to some cultures and a dead thing to others.”

theme(s): Inanimate and animate objects,

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