Adventures in Reading

Short Stories: More Best American Short Stories 2008

Best: x American: x Short: 21 Story: x
From Ploughshares, Allegra Goodman’s “Closely Held” is a cross-section exposing a particular step into adulthood. Within these moments the protagonist Orion reflects on his girlfriend, his friends turned distant business partners, and on a computer business that prospectively will make him a ridiculously wealthy man. The second first person narrative in the collection, “Closely Held” holds Orion at a place when all of his options in life are still available.

I was excited to read Goodman’s comments that this story, and another it “piggy-backed” on, is possibly leading to a novel. “Closely Held” reads as an out-of-breath encounter and I watched Orion hesitatingly revealing his world. I confess a personal attraction to the story as I find myself at a similar juncture in my own life where I need to finally begin considering the Big Decisions of Life. Well-written and intriguing, it’s a great story for the collection.

Best: x American: x Short: 13.5 Story: x
From Granta, A.M. Homes’ “May We Be Forgiven” is the story of two brothers. The younger brother George is involved in a car accident killing three passengers and he begins to fall apart. Their wives encourage the older brother to move into George’s home to help his wife while George is in a mental ward.

The moment I finished this story I began reading it again, and, like Goodman’s story, “May We Be Forgiven” may be expanded into a novel. Homes describes the story as “unfinished” and reading the story it’s ready to burst with complexity. I was surprised by the honesty and violence in the story.

Best: x American: x Short: 11 Story: x
From Harper’s Magazine, Nicole Krauss’ “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky” is perhaps my favorite story so far in the collection. Starting from the idea on the effects of living a life amongst someone else’s furniture, “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky” is the story of a man and poet who returns to Chile and is destroyed by Pinochet. But this story is told through a woman who briefly encountered Daniel and is caring for his furniture in New York.

On a Post-It I wrote that I “love, love, love this.” Krauss has a great interplay of themes from the poetic to the political to the personal. The story is suggestively unveiled, but all around this concrete and peculiarly crafted desk.

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