Short Stories All the Time

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

22 June, 2017

Charles D'Ambrosio, "The Dead Fish Museum"

The story is composed of fifteen scenes told from the viewpoint of Ramage. He's just been released after a two month stay from the mental hospital because he's suicidal. He checks into a seedy motel, $75 for three days, and is the construction crew leader for building sets for the filming of pornography. RB, Rigoberto are his helpers and they have some repartee about race, immigration, and sex.

The story opens with Ramage (one letter different from Damage) checking into a motel and telling about the gun he keeps in his canvas tool bag. The story ends with him checking out of the motel and realizing that his gun has been stolen. "Over time the gun had become a talisman with the power and primitive comfort of a child's blanket."

There's little backstory sprinkled throughout the story. There's a couple with a baby staying in the room next to his. They abandon the baby to go to the bar. He hates children and at one point thought he might stab a baby in a restaurant. "Something wildly uncentered in his mind had told him he was going to stab the baby in the eye.

There's an ongoing acknowledgment of the scent in the air of this town, never named exactly. There's a spice factory nearby and every day there are different scents, sage, basil, oregano, clove, cinnamon that waft over to the warehouse where they're filming.

Rigoberto has escaped El Salvador where his brother was killed, the bullet meant for Rigo. He works hard and sends money to his brother in Honduras. He fishes to feed him and his wife. He sleeps on the beach during filming to save the meager per diem. RB gives him a hard time about always eating baloney sandwiches. I'm not sure what the theme of the story is but it's a glimpse into the hard life of three guys, and a blonde porn star, Desiree.

17 October, 2016

Charles D'Ambrosio, "Blessing"

In the winter 2005 issue of Zoetrope: All-Story, there is a story by Charles D'Ambrosio told in first-person POV, that of Tony, husband of Meagan. They've moved from New York City to a two and a half hour drive outside of Seattle. She'd been auditioning for acting roles but was always unsuccessful. Tony is an insurance representative or adjuster and he's content to sit in a comfortable chair and read a good book. They've bought an old house at the edge of a tulip farm. The house is old in parts and updated in parts. Meagan's brother, father, sister-in-law, and baby are coming for a visit. It's the brother's birthday. He's out of the Marines and married to a younger Filipino woman.

Ultimately, I think, the story is about hunger. Hunger for career accomplishment, hunger for acceptance, hunger for approval, and actual hunger.

"His entire body clenched like a fist with each cry; his small, astonishing baby hands flailed around blindly until he found my finger and latched on, sticking the tip in his mouth and suckling. Naga took the bottle from the pan and then filled it to the top with water from the tap.
'You can't dilute the formula,' I said. 'No water.'
'Lasts longer,' Naga said.
'That's why he's crying,' I said. 'He's hungry.'
'Very expensive, Anthony.'
'But you can't do that. Do you understand? He's starving."

Everyone in this story is starving, except Tony. His father died when he was two years old and has never felt the loss. He was surrounded by other family members and always included in one way or another. While Meagan and her brother, Jimmy, lost their mother to mental illness, continue to try to win approval from their father who says, "'Ambition that's compromised,' he said. 'isn't ambition.'"

"Blessing" was later, 2006, included in his short story collection, The Dead Fish Museum.

Link to an interview between Leslie Jamison and Charles D'Ambrosio for The New Yorker.
Link to Wikipedia page for D'Ambrosio