Adventures in Reading


Short Stories: More Best American Short Stories 2008

Best: ? American: x Short: 14 Story: x
From Zoetrope: All-Story, Karen Russell’s “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” is about two vampires subsisting off of lemons within a church’s grove that is also a tourist attraction.

Have I mentioned before I’m not really that big into the whole vampire thing? I know I mostly enjoyed what I read of the Twilight series and Dracula gave me tingles, but as a reader I feel when a writer utilizes a pop icon such as vampires that a whole lot is demanded to make it a worthwhile read. Russell’s story was cute, but not compelling.

Best: x American: x Short: 7 Story: x
From The New Yorker, George Saunders’ “Puppy” is an interesting class clash between two families: one middle-class family seeking a puppy and one lower-class family desperately trying to give away their puppy. Saunders provides interesting internal snippets into the mothers’ minds. Saunders cites his spark of influence as he once drove through a neighborhood and his family caught a glimpse of a boy in a backyard with a leash on.

While other stories deal with class in this collection, Saunders specifically created a woman who has crossed classes and how she deals with this. Perhaps it just reminds me of my own class conscious mother?

Best: ? American: x Short: 12 Story: x
From New England Review, Christine Sneed’s “Quality of Life” is the story of Lindsay and how she finds herself swept up into an affair with an older and relatively unknown man. Lindsay’s story is a life of relinquishing control of one’s own life to others (such as this man and her family). By the end of the story, it seems that Lindsay is completely under the influence of this man.

I enjoyed the story and I enjoyed where it headed, but why (as a rhetorical question to the story as a whole)? Short stories often examine an occasion or sequence of events, but it’s curious which ones are chosen. Often they’re points of considerable stress or change. The reader is introduced to Lindsay after she has already started losing control of her life to her own family, and we just continue to see a more thorough process with this mystery man. However, I didn’t feel there was enough reasoning to why Lindsay could not stop or get herself out of the situation.

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2 Comments

I’ve always wondered about these books. Several years ago my dad gave me the best essays of 2003 and oh they are soooo dull (actually haven’t picked it up in a while so maybe opinions have changed). When I found out that Rushdie was editing, I was curious but still not sure…

Comment by Trish

I read “Quality of Life” as a metaphor of the tyranny of the immediate. There was an undercurrent of financial forces between the older man and Lindsey that I found true to life, in that women are often fixated on security to the exclusion of their own potential. Add passivity to pragmatism, insert a sinister force bent on control, and you have a chilling story of submission and relinquishing of self. A disturbing, masterful story.

Comment by Parker




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