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Tag: third-person narration

Short story: “Monsters”

“Monsters,” by Scott Cheshire

Appeared in Catapult, September 30th, 2015

5762 words

This story ends at exactly the right point.

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Short story: “George and Elizabeth”

“George and Elizabeth,” by Ben Marcus

Appeared in Granta 133: What Have We Done (online here, behind a paywall), November 18th, 2015

8273 words

The relentless cynicism (detachment? deflection? cruel superficiality?) of the narration is all worth it for that last line.

Short story: “Anything for Money”

“Anything for Money,” by Karen E. Bender

Appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story Vol. 5, No. 3 in Fall 2001 (read the story online or subscribe); anthologized in Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story 2

10,297 words

Easily my favorite story in this anthology.

I feel ungrateful when I talk about stories that I like a lot, because I’m suspicious of what makes me like them so much and I need to discuss them in terms of that suspicion. This story is cartoonish, far from realistic. Its tropes are pretty cliché: extreme game shows, ambition and greed as the handmaidens of emotional isolation, an isolated man moved by his relationship with a child. Regardless, when I bitch about literary fiction without emotional resonance, what I mean is I want more stories like this.

Short story: “Then We’ll Set It Right”

“Then We’ll Set It Right,” by Robert Gorham Davis

Appeared in the New Yorker, August 28th, 1943 (subscribers can read here); read by Lydia Davis, his daughter, in the November 2015 episode of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast; also appeared in 55 Short Stories from the New Yorker

Perhaps 2,000 words?

This story impresses me with how plain and straightforward it is. I suppose being plain, straightforward, and wickedly understated are the traits of a classic New Yorker story. And the general point of view is distant enough that the point of view shifts don’t register as distracting—an omniscient trick that doesn’t seem to be as common today. The title is a bit unsubtle though.

Short story: “You and Me Are Not Friends”

“You and Me Are Not Friends,” by Eric Rubeo

Appeared in (parenthetical): the zine, March 15th, 2016

714 words

A neat piece about regret. Sort of blurs the line between first-person and third-.

Short story: “The Authorized Biography”

“The Authorized Biography,” by Michael G. Ryan

Appeared in episodes 197 and 198 of Cast of Wonders, February 14th and 21st, 2016; text here

7,539 words, taking up two episodes/25 pages

Good, gripping fun. The ending was a bit unresolved for my taste, but that’s forgivable—I have a hard time imagining another ending that would fit the story.

The main character’s marriage strikes me as pretty pathetic until the point when he actually starts communicating with his wife. I don’t know how people can live like that.

Short story: “Woman of the Week”

“Woman of the Week,” by Claire Polders

Appeared in matchbook in February 2016

449 words

A neat piece. Sort of celebrating the individuality of somebody who appears superficially uninteresting.

Short story: “At the Zoo”

“At the Zoo,” by Caitlin Horrocks

Appeared in Issue No. 188 of the Paris Review, Spring 2009 and online here; collected in This Is Not Your City (Sarabande Books, July 2011)

4,709 words

This is good.

The story is set up so that we first wonder if the mad scientist is secretly the grandfather, then eventually discover that he doesn’t seem to know anything about it. And then—memory loss? Time travel? He doesn’t seem forgetful. It’s a mystery.

Short story: “Suicide as a Sort of Present”

“Suicide as a Sort of Present,” by David Foster Wallace

Collected in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (May 28th, 1999, Little, Brown and Company); read by the author on YouTube; part of the story is excerpted here

Maybe 1500 words?

This is such a good story.

Of course Wallace’s death complicates (or rather, oversimplifies) the way we read it, and probably makes it horribly cruel to his family. All the same, it’s really good.

I’m pretty sure the suicide/present is the son’s, and I suspect he took others with him.

Short story: “The Tower”

“The Tower,” by Steven Millhauser

Appeared in Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern 25, 2007

16 1/3 pages in McSweeney’s

Millhauser is always good but rarely as good as I want him to be. This story is a very long parable, maybe too long. When I reread it after some years, I realized I had forgotten the ending—not because the ending is arbitrary, but because it’s sort of parabolically inevitable, like the endings of “Paradise Park” and “The Dream of the Consortium.”

I really like this line, for no special reason: “a row of sparrows rose into the air with beating wings, like the sound of a shaken rug.”