Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Bloom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bloom. Show all posts

28 November, 2010

Amy Bloom, "Faultlines"

Henry DiMartino in "Faultlines" is a handsome and successful man, also shallow and narcissistic, married to Marie, bitter and jealous, and fantasizes constantly about Mary, beautiful and blonde. I love the way Bloom uses each person's thoughts with clarity and laser-like probing. For example, this sentence early in the story reveals a great deal about the kind of man Henry is. "It took two years for him to stop being ashamed that the only reason his children had a father to play ball with every night  and to help them with their homework was that the woman he loved didn't love him back." Bloom also exposes in a very clear way how people who have been married a long time know how their smallest actions or words or even words unsaid will affect the spouse. "Henry knew, having   been married to Marie for twenty years, that the moment he described Mary the day would be ruined. And if he said nothing, the evening would be ruined, perhaps more dramatically, when Marie laid eyes on Mary." And the two women's names, Mary and Marie, assist in showing that Henry does not have marital boundaries.

The point of view is shifting third person. "Faultlines" is included in her collection, Come to Me.

Bloom's web page about Come to Me
Wikipedia biography about Bloom
Ploughshares article by Anne Stockwell

25 November, 2010

Amy Bloom, "Silver Water"

"Silver Water" by Amy Bloom was first published in Story, Autumn 1991, and subsequently in her collection, Come to Me

Rose's "...voice was like mountain water in a silver pitcher," loses her mind at age fifteen and younger sister, Violet, and parents are bewildered trying to find therapists, hospitals, and health insurance. Written in first person POV and covers at least a ten year span.

The story begins with Rose showing Violet and a parking lot full of opera goers her amazing vocal abilities and circles around by the end with Violet remembering that wonderful voice. The odyssey the family takes with Rose and her "psychotic  break" is rendered in reality but with attendant literary techniques, foreshadowing, symbolism, lyrical language, and a full story arc. This story is disturbing in its cruelty and callousness while still showing absolute love and compassion. It shows how these two seemingly polar opposites can be held simultaneously and sometimes must be.

link to story published in 2007 issue of Online Journal of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work

12 November, 2010

Amy Bloom, "Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines"

Susan, an unattractive and heavy young girl, presumably about ten years old, harassed at school, unloved at home, is made, erroneously, to feel better about herself by the neighborhood pedophile who gives her rides to and from school so she doesn't have to ride the school bus where she's bullied.

The story is told in retrospect; Susan is now an adult looking back at her younger years while we do not know details about her adult life. This story might be an example of what David Jauss calls an echo ending. We see the protagonist repeating patterns of behavior. In this story, Susan is no longer near Mr. Klein but she takes piano lessons from Mr. Canetti who served Susan "wine-flavored cookies" and one day, "I saw my beautiful self take shape in his eyes." Susan's victimization continued.

In ten pages Amy Bloom distills the complex relationship between Mr. Klein's lies and Susan's burgeoning understanding of adult manipulation juxtaposed with her thoughts about how she thinks she benefits from Mr. Klein's attentions. One of the saddest sentences comes after Mr. Klein tells Susan--we assume Mr. Klein has been called out on his attentions to Susan--that he can no longer see her. She says, "I had not known that I could talk through this kind of pain." At this point in Susan's life, being Mr. Klein's victim is more palatable to her than being the victim of her parents and her classmates.

The story also illustrates the escalation of Mr. Klein's advances and I'm sure Bloom's experience as a psychotherapist has given her insight into both of these types of people.

"Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines" is included in Bloom's collection, Come to Me.

10 November, 2010

Amy Bloom, "Sleepwalking"

Julia is left with her young son and an adult step-son when her husband dies. And, even as Julia tries to do the right thing, she commits an act that threatens to tear apart her remaining family. Bloom shows in a seemingly effortless way that regular people do unspeakable things and somehow continue to wake up the next day and try to be better.

"Sleepwalking" is the third story in Bloom's collection, Come to Me. It's written in first-person POV and is about 6,000 words long. First published in 1991.

I see on other blogs that these characters, Lionel and Buster, show up in many more stories and we see them through adulthood and middle-age.

Bloom's web page, NYT Review

06 November, 2010

Amy Bloom, "Love Is Not a Pie"

"Love Is Not a Pie" was first published in 1990. It's written in first-person point-of-view and about 6,000 words. At her mother's eulogy, Ellen contemplates whether or not to marry John.Then the story moves into the back story for several pages where we learn of the childhoods of Ellen, Lizzie, and their friend Gisela. More importantly, the relationship of the adults is slowly revealed and helps confirm Ellen's decision about John.

This is the opening story in Bloom's collection, Come to Me which was published in 1993 and was a National Book Award Finalist.

Bloom's web page with link to purchase book
Good Reads blog with lots of reviews
Interview with Bloom

18 March, 2010

Amy Bloom, "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You," Charles E. May and David Jauss essays

Read an interesting article on Charles May's blog, "The Beginnings of the Modern Irish Short Story: William Carleton."

The concept of "external climaxes" illuminated in Jauss's essay excites me because, although, I've intuited this to be my favorite type of ending, I never had a name for the sort of climax that happens for the reader more than, if not totally, than for the protagonist. Jauss states about "The Little Joke," "Stories of this sort are often sketch-like in their stasis, but though the characters may not change, our perceptions of them, and perhaps of ourselves, does, and the result is a conclusion as satisfying as that of any plotted story." from the March/April 2010 edition of Writer's Chronicle.

Also read Amy Bloom's story, "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You." A mother's daughter faces gender reassignment surgery while, Jane, the mother, meets a man. The story is written in present tense, omniscient.

17 March, 2010

Chekhov, "The Witch," Amy Bloom, "The Story," and David Jauss

Submitted my story, "Vera, Vera" to the very helpful reviewers at Zoetrope Virtual Studio.

Read Amy Bloom's story, "The Story," included in her collection, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You. "The Story" is written in 1st person POV and included amongst the story itself are the narrator's musings about the details of the lives of the people the story is based on and her considerations to make the story more readable or literary. At one point, the narrator asks the reader, "Should I describe him as tall and blond...?" All mixed together in the story are--ultimately about a married couple who lose an infant boy to flu--real life characters, fictional devices, the narrator and the writer. It is an excellent example of metafiction.

Read Chekhov's "The Witch" which is an example, according to Jauss, of a story with an "omitted climax." The story just stops. This one, in particular, ends with a punch in the nose, but no one has come to any conclusion or changed or had an epiphany. The story just ended.