Adventures in Reading

Short Stories: More Best American Short Stories 2008

Best: ? American: x Short: 14.5 Story: x
From The Atlantic, Bradford Tice’s “Missionaries” is about two boys within the Mormon Church who are field operatives in converting new members. Like military recruiters with statistical goals, the older of the boys confronts possible converts with a terrible ferocity while the younger boy develops a crush on this more mature figure.

In Bradford’s comments, he mentions that Mormonism is not meant to be the center piece of his story, but how can it not be? The story is interesting and exemplifies the hypocrisy that can surface from religious practitioners, and it’s even given me pause to consider it a few days after finishing the story. But I have to wonder how it’s a “best” story if it doesn’t fulfill the author’s objective?

Best: ? American: x Short: 13 Story: x
From The Antioch Review, Mark Wisniewski’s “Straightaway” is told through an African American male voice and describes a life of brushing against achievement and success, but ultimately falling short. Three friends, with their high school basketball glory days behind them, are hired to remove a barrel from a woman’s property and are paid a large sum of money in doing so as long as they ask no questions. The three end up at the race track considering their position.

The hovering anticipation of the story is will they be caught? They were seen abandoning the barrel and the paranoia of the occasion is apparent throughout the story. It was a so-so story and I didn’t really care for it.

Best: ? American: x Short: 11 Story: x
From The Atlantic, Tobias Wolff’s “Bible” is the culture class between a white and female teacher instructing at a Catholic school and the Arabic and immigrant father of one of her pupils. Both characters come equipped with a good deal of baggage, and the father recklessly confronts the teacher with the suggestion of violence in regards to his sons academic problems.

Tobias Wolff is a name I hear and see frequently and his short story “Bible” was my first experience with him, and between this and “Missionaries'” by Tice, I don’t think I’ll be picking up The Atlantic. I don’t like my short stories to be obvious and I found myself scanning this tale because of it.

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