Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reading Update: Short Story Time

I have been doing plenty of reading, but more of the sort to keep me sane between work (read: bouts of grading).

Recently Finished:

Old Missouri Reviews

Years ago, an old student of my dad's got wind that he had a literary-minded daughter. She was cleaning out her closet, I suppose, but didn't want to throw out a large collection of Missouri Reviews that she had accumulated. Instead, she gathered them up, and presented them to my dad, instructing him to give them to me.

I was flattered, but overwhelmed, by the gift. For years, they sat in my closet, unread. Finally, I decided it was no good just leaving them there, and enacted a ruthless purge. I went through and took out issues with prize-winning stories, or issues with stories by authors whose names I recognized.

The issues that made it onto my shelf have provided most of my reading recently. I've read almost all of the stories now. I admit to skipping most of the poetry, I didn't care for it. The issue above is one that I've read, they're all from the early 2000s. (Don't worry, the rest of the issues weren't thrown out, they're currently in a donation pile.)

Almost Done With:

The Best American Non Required Reading 2014, edited by Daniel Handler, introduction by Lemony Snicket

Who could resist a book edited and introduced by Lemony Snicket (we all know Handler is just a front)? For me, it was almost worth getting the book just for the introduction. The stories are actually chosen by a committee of high school students, which I also found interesting. I was very impressed by the first two entries: "On the Study of Physics in Preschool Classrooms" by Matthew Schultz and "AP Style" by Dan Keane, respectively. The following entries were not as impressive, and again, I didn't care for any of the poetry (I'm picky about poetry, what can I say?).

I did really like Rachel Swirsky's story "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love," which apparently won an award. I remember her from her novella, "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window." Not in this book, but also a thought-provoking and satisfying read.

Cole Becher's story "Charybdis" made me laugh out loud more than once, even though it's just as heartbreaking as Swirsky's. The bittersweet really has a stranglehold on our national imagination right now, or did it always?

Anyway, collections that I can dip into and out of have been a boon to me lately, and I'm sure will continue to be in these saturated next few weeks.

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