Monday, March 22, 2010
Some of my most memorable reading experiences in high school come from short story collections, especially F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tales of the Jazz Age. I've been trying to get into some of the modern masters lately. Here are a few to peruse...
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation offers solace and comfort while exploring deeper themes. The melancholy “Rain” traces a woman's friendship with an old pal, who dropped his successful corporate life to live closer to nature. Rocky terrain is covered: fidelity, brain cancer, and mortality. Other stories are lighter, such as the title story in which the narrator kicks up her heels and skips her Weight Watchers meeting to indulge in her food cravings.
The poignant coming-of-age tales of Amy Bloom's Come to Me: Stories explore the rich, intricate textures of family life. At her mother's funeral, reminiscing about her family's long summers spent with another family, the main character of “Love Is Not a Pie” realizes that her mother shared both a lover and a husband during those long, lazy days.
Unaccustomed Earth, focuses on aspects of dislocation and assimilation. The titular selection features a woman in mourning, relocated from Brooklyn to Seattle, wondering if she should invite her recently widowed father, visiting from Pennsylvania, to share her home. The father has his own worries: he hopes his daughter will remain in the dark about a new relationship he is cultivating. Lahiri's characters' sense of loss is haunting, and her prose is gemlike. Readers will strike gold with this dazzling work, which also highlights Bengali customs and traditional Indian arrangements.
How to Breathe Underwater: Stories, resembles a mininovel. Complex, spellbinding, and illuminating, “Stars of Motown Shining Bright” focuses on two girls retracing their sudden divergent paths. “Note to My Sixth Grade Self” is an acutely rendered study of the pain felt by a socially ostracized girl. Orringer's straightforward compassionate voice exposes the fears, secrets, and cruelties that children and adolescents experience. Her tender tales, overflowing with the turbulent longing and agonies of youth, testify to the enduring promise of the short story.
~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~
~ All summaries from Library Journal ~
Who are your favorite contemporary short story authors?