Tag: unknown word count

Short story: “What Is Remembered”

“What Is Remembered,” by Alice Munro

Appeared in the New Yorker, February 19th, 2001 (online); collected in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (McClelland & Stewart, 2001)

24 and 2/3 pages

Rereading this many years later, I found I remembered it pretty well. Now it reminds me of “The Surrogate,” the way the fantasy of the old affair lingers in a way that seems curiously irrelevant to the main character’s everyday life. Is this a common thing with women? (Perhaps men as well?)

Munro frequently returns to the scene of a seemingly spontaneous, mutual, outdoor kiss between a man and a woman who’ve just met. “Passion” has a somewhat similar gesture performed in an open convertible.


Short story: “The Hating House”

“The Hating House,” by Zach Chapman

The second story in Tales to Terrify 370, March 1st, 2019

A few thousand words I think

Fun. I didn’t realize Tales to Terrify ran light funny stories like this. (Light despite the violence and swarms of flies.)

Short story: “The Crow’s Gift”

“The Crows’ Gift,” by Sonora Taylor

Appeared in The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales (2017); read in Tales to Terrify 369, February 22nd, 2019

A few thousand words

Nice one. I somehow didn’t see that last line (or rather, that last word) coming. Perhaps not that far-fetched, either!

I found it odd when, late in the story, the protagonist was so reluctant to talk to a girl who was being reasonably nice to her. Maybe I missed something earlier that would explain her wariness.

Short story: “Shakespeare’s Memory”

“Shakespeare’s Memory” (“La memoria de Shakespeare”), by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley

Original first published in a collection of the same name in 1983; Hurley’s translation appeared in the New Yorker on April 13th, 1998 (subscribers can read here); read by Hisham Matar in the December 2012 New Yorker Fiction Podcast (listen here); also in Collected Stories (Hurley again, Penguin)

? words

This story is kind of nuts. I feel like it’s about the weirdness of academic types more than anything else. I mean it’s also a fantastic examination of how memory works, how it affects personal identity, how it holds fast to seemingly trivial details and fumbles seemingly significant ones.

Short story: “Replace”

“Replace,” by Glen Pourciau

Appeared in Per Contra, issue 31 (Spring 2014), formerly here but now, unfortunately, the magazine is on permanent hiatus

Not sure how many words since I can no longer access the site

A nice, melancholy piece, although I don’t feel as strongly about it as about the other Pourciau stories I’ve read.

I don’t like it when a story title is just the base form of a verb, unless it’s clearly intended as an imperative. “Replacement” would sound better to me.

Short story: “Every True Artist”

“Every True Artist,” by Kai Conradi

Pages 59–72 in The Malahat Review 204, Autumn 2018 (buy print issue/buy digital issue)

Several thousand words

Wow, I don’t know. Yula has hope at the beginning and less and less as time wears on, and yet at the end, she’s undeniably more of an artist than she was. It’s like life’s booby prize.

Gorgeously written, and I love the “aliveness” Yula imagines for the desert.

Short story: “The Magic Mirror”

“The Magic Mirror,” by Brad McNaughton

Appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (apparently they’ve dropped the word “Inflight”) issue 73

Probably a little over a thousand words, not sure


Writers have told me never to start a story with a character waking up, something I struggle with, because a lot of my stories seem to naturally start there—it’s a way to establish an unusual daily routine for an unusual character. Nice to see some editors do keep reading past that.

Short story: “Nocturne”

“Nocturne,” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Collected in Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (Knopf Canada, 2009)

? words

I liked all the stories in this collection (described by the publisher as a short story cycle), but this one was my favorite. The connection between these two strangers, and the way she insults his music and then confesses how bad she is at being sincere about things she likes.

Some reviewer pointed out that the narrator describes the woman’s facial expression at a point when they’re both supposed to be covered in bandages, an oversight that I imagine most writing workshops would have caught.

This collection/cycle strikes me as thematically uncharacteristic of Ishiguro somehow. I might come back to this if I reread it some time.

Short story: “The Gifts of War”

“The Gifts of War,” by Margaret Drabble

Appeared in Winter’s Tales 16 in 1970; collected in A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories; also in the anthology Into the Widening World: International Coming-of-Age Stories, edited by John Loughery

About 16 pages in my library’s copy of A Day in the Life; ? words

A story of accidental cruelty that has stuck with me for years. Now that I think about it, the plot sort of reminds me George Saunders’ “Puppy,” but this story is quieter and the heartbreak happens onstage, from an outsider’s point of view. The clash between different social classes is similar too. As in “Puppy,” the point of view stays close to one character and then switches to another about halfway through, at a section break. This story is way more successful at differentiating the two voices.

If there’s a social message/satire intended here, I don’t get it. The title and epigraph seem out of place to me. I see it as loss-of-innocence story, with the college kids’ naive politics being nothing more of a foil for the unhappy woman’s jadedness and involuted life. Joyce Carol Oates actually described this as “an antiwar story” in the New Yorker, so consider me entirely out of the loop on this one.

I first read this in the coming-of-age anthology mentioned above, and I’m still not sure which character is supposed to be coming of age.

Short story: “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”

“‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” by Harlan Ellison

Appeared in Galaxy in December 1965; won the 1966 Hugo Award for best short story; won the 1965 Nebula Award; anthologized in World’s Best Science Fiction: 1966

Not sure how many words

I was pretty underwhelmed when I finally got around to reading this. I’ll admit that the prose style and the unserious tone are awesome, especially the cheeky 1984 reference. Maybe that stuff was striking and innovative when this piece was first published, but today, treating serious subject matter with complete irreverence is unremarkable. The same goes for the dystopian plot. (Maybe the moral is that even small, doomed acts of rebellion can make a difference in the long run? Sure, whatever.) It doesn’t help that the characters are deliberately paper-thin.

This essay describes the story as a self-subverting fable, which is fair enough. Another essay says it’s about “the futility of protest in effecting social change.”

I feel like “‘Repent'” fails for the same reason any story of its kind must fail. You can use the techniques of storytelling to deny that stories hold meaning, but you just end up undermining yourself.