Short Stories All the Time

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

02 February, 2014

Michael Byers, "Malaria"

Written in first person POV and told decades later by Orlando after an illness, the theme of the story, for me, is that a person, even a seemingly insignificant person, can have an impact on a person's life even if not apparent until many years later. George, mentally ill, "was important to me in the way such people can be, surprisingly, really out of proportion to their actual size in your life."

Some of the extra long sentences read fluidly and beg a slow poetic attention.

"The bus stopped in Kelso and we all wandered around stunned in the fluorescent lights, smelling the hash browns, and then it was back on the bus for the last hours south into Eugene, which, in the early morning, was a lovely place, pink and yellow, with sheets of pale sunlight falling over the college buildings and fog rising from the fountains, the fast-food franchises just opening up, and the dark gray houses holding within themselves their little secrets, innumerable men and women starting up from their beds, getting on with the day."

The story is written in past tense and is told much later so there is not a lot of dialogue but the dialogue is spaced throughout the story which gives the reader a sense of closeness to the action and a believability from the narrator.

"Malaria" was first published in the Bellevue Literary Review and then included in The Best American Short Stories, 2013.


full text of the story, "Malaria" by Micheal Byers
faculty profile and links

15 August, 2012

Michael Byers, "His Other Fathers"

Number 167 from One Story is "His Other Fathers." We see Paul Lake go from an awkward seventh grader to a married father of a daughter. His own father left his mother and four children while Paul grew to love film and film making. He eventually moved through college and several relationships until he learned to love and appreciate himself. Fathers of the girls he dated served a purpose--not intentionally--each showing Paul an example of a way a man can be. Sort of a "it takes a village to raise a child" concept. His own daughter likes him and he hopes to be a "decent father himself" and he hopes that "his own daughter ends up as lucky as those other daughters" meaning those young women Paul dated.

My favorite sentence. "It was a predictably antique and formal thing for waxy, elderly-seeming Arnold to have done, and Hillary did not know what to make of it."

I thought it was funny that Hillary drove a Volvo. There are several pop cultural references, the movie, The Long Kiss Goodnight from 1996. Paul is in his early twenties at this time. The television show, The A-Team that aired from 1983-1987. And, Fermat's Last Theorem: (from Wikipedia)  
no three positive integers ab, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than two. This theorem seems fitting in that no one father satisfied all of Paul's needs. 

Michael Byers' web site
Online stories and essays by Byers
Wikipedia page
University of Michigan faculty web page bio
Hot Metal Bridge interview with Byers