Stuff on this blog:
- Personal and professional biases, without full disclosure
- Spoilers, with and without warnings
- Unpleasantness, with and without warnings
Stuff on this blog:
“Owl Eyes,” by Joyce Carol Oates
Around 17.5 pages, 6501 words
I’m not sure how to feel about the ending of this story. Jerald has discovered a new place in himself, a new capacity for action, but it’s hard to know what his adventure will cost him. I’m also not completely sure I buy the suddenness of his change.
I found myself slightly jarred—irrationally—by the mention of an iPad. Something about the language or the setting feels to me like that of an earlier era. Or it might be that the language sounds so very Joyce Carol Oates (I was reading her work before iPads were around) that I’m automatically taken back in time.
“The New Year,” by Ellen Wilbur
A little over 6 pages, 2735 words
An excellent short story.
The main character reminds me of the priest in “Departures.” He’s the narrator, but you can feel how distant he is from himself, how little he’s able to navigate between his past and his present.
“Sarandí Street,” by Silvina Ocampo, translated from the Spanish by Katie Jan and Suzanne Jill Levine
Appeared online August 18th, 2016 in Granta 136: Legacies of Love
A subtle piece that I’m not sure I understand. I read it as being about someone living her whole life under a looming threat—the threat of male violence?—which, at the end, continues to haunt her in the form of her adopted son.
The word “trunks” threw me off a bit. I would have written something like “trunks of clothes” or “steamer trunks,” but I imagine it was unambiguous in Spanish and the translators didn’t want to risk destroying the elegant simplicity of the sentence.
“The softness and fragility of baby animals caused us the same intense pain.”
—Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
“The Weak Spot,” by Sophie Mackintosh
Appeared online August 15th, 2016 in Granta 136: Legacies of Love
“I tried to think about whether I would rather kill a man or a deer and honestly I couldn’t choose, which made me feel bad, but men didn’t have the velvet-soft pelt at the back of their necks and a deer had never looked at me in a way that said they were thinking of me inside-out, of how I’d look if I was crying or motionless or asking them very gently not to do anything to me.”
A delightful story. Feels like a commentary on our society, where women are taught to fear men but not quite permitted to hate them. Sad that this brutal alternate world is better (at least on the surface) at keeping girls and women safe.
Murder class reminds me of “No Victims.”