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This happens whether you like it or not. Great stories practice this violent beauty on you in a variety of ways. Maybe you start reading one over your lunch break and, if it's the right one, before that peanut butter cup you brought for dessert even has a chance to finish its melting shape-shift into some kind of sugary cement, the whole world has been destroyed around you and then rebuilt, and nothing is quite the same again.
Great stories practice this violent beauty on you in a variety of ways: Some do it quietly, almost without you even noticing, and some do it with high wire acts of imagination or intellect that make you into a breathless witness. The trick, then, is finding the right story, one that is capable of such a thing.
This is no easy task. Tastes differ, of course, and it can be confusing to spot the small boat of a great story on the wide sea of fiction. What any reader can offer you in terms of guidance is actually the same thing that any good writer can offer you with the story itself: In that spirit and in no particular order, here are ten short stories you might've missed that ambushed me with their odd wonder: It is both an education and an elegy.
To save their marriage, they adopt a mortal toddler and begin to raise him, only to discover he has developed terminal leukemia. What follows, set in a fairy den and an oncology ward, is one of the best and, somehow, realest short stories ever written, a haunting exploration of love and death that has followed this reader, at least, into marriage, parenthood, and nearly every subsequent day spent on this earth.
While the inherently political nature of the story is certainly important and the writing is ruthless in its detail, to approach "Lorry Raja" in only that way is to miss the quiet power of Vijay's prose, as well as its ability to look honestly into the subtleties of family and the scales of desire without denying beauty where it lurks.
A lesson simultaneously in understatement and heart, this story is really about the near misses of the lives we almost live, as well as what time does to the things that could've been.
Long forgotten by most, author Colum McCann miraculously resurrected it for The New Yorker's fiction podcast, and it is best experienced in his wonderful voice. The story is, in the end, a testament to the power of a whole person--caustic, funny, articulate, alone, lost and found, cruel and loving--given life on the page.
Franz-Josef Von Leinsdorf and a mixed-race Johannesburg shop girl, an affair that is illegal in apartheid-era South Africa. One of the most overlooked pieces of Gordimer's writing, this is also one of the quietest, and most effective. The uneasy dynamics of race, class, and power especially when it comes to love and sex are nimbly explored here, and build to a devastating end.
It was similarly saved from obscurity, this time by author Tessa Hadley, for The New Yorker's fiction podcast. Waiting behind Nabokov's admittedly long and wry sentences is the plainly moving story of a love affair pursued through the years.
Every detail works together here to render Nabokov's testament to the illusiveness of love and memory, and a reader's patience is richly rewarded. Those interested can find it online, or in the excellent anthology of love stories, My Mistress' Sparrow Is Dead. Machado, another new voice in American fiction, manages to create an engaging, strange, and wholly original story that draws into conversation sexual violence, popular culture, and our own weird-feeling relationships therein.
Shattuck's facility with prose makes this a funny, winning story, even as it is a bitter and sad one: The best part, however, is the turn at the very end, which reveals the entire story to perhaps have been something different all along, a sneakily stunning mediation on the limits of self-awareness, guilt, and penance.
Originally published in Ploughshares, curious readers can find it in the pages of the Best American Short Stories anthology.The latest best-sellers and book reviews from USA TODAY Books. Night Flares by Robert M. Pacholik. April 7, Robert M. Pacholik's Night Flares: Six Tales of the Vietnam War (Action-Adventure Press, $, e book) is a work of fiction “based on eye-witness accounts of real events, ” as the author puts it.
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A French village boy falls in love with an aristocratic Polish girl on the eve of the second world war. The protagonist joins the French Resistance, but the biggest resistance to tyranny lies in.
Logic tells us that truth is more authentic than fiction. But Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner challenge that assumption in a new anthology of short story fiction, “ The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War. Learn how fiction is organized by length into three categories: novels, novellas and short stories.
Explore the general characteristics of each type, and learn about some famous examples.