Short Stories All the Time

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

11 October, 2015

Jennifer Murvin, "Emporium"

"Emporium" won 1st place in the American Short(er) Fiction Contest judged by Stuart Dybek! Its three pages reveal as much as it doesn't, making obvious what is not told. Remnants of a person's belongings left behind after their death often does not reveal anything either. We can only speculate.

The story is that a father bought a painting when the family was at an open-air festival of sorts. He'd disappeared for a few minutes and reappeared with the painting titled Emporium 1985-1992. The narrator spends some time trying to decipher the dates in the title and then uses the seven year span as a measurement.

The painting hung in their home from that day forward. The mother didn't like it and he'd spent five-hundred dollars on it which evidently was quite a sum for the family. After the father's death, "She did not want Emporium, no thank you, she said, that godforsaken strip mall hanging above our heads our whole lives had made things even more mediocre than they were already, more pale, removing her hopes one empty parking space at a time."

We watch the narrator try to make sense of the painting of the emporium and its empty parking lot and lack of people and in doing so reveals the emotional state of the family during the narrator's childhood. Even as the painting now belongs to the narrator, "It hangs now in my garage over the tools..." not a place of honor. Interesting. The sense of mystery of this man who had made a purchase that had given him, "...radiance, like a man come to Jesus, like a man in the faith who has brought another man to Jesus, salvation all over his face," is compelling and reason enough to read the story over and over and then wonder what makes our family members tick.

"Emporium" is in volume 18, issue 60, fall 2015 issue of American Short Fiction.

Jennifer Marvin-web page-teaches at Missouri State University and at River Pretty Writers Retreat.

30 August, 2015

Stuart Dybek, "Bruise"

A flash fiction piece, about 700 words, shows a woman with a bruise "high on the outside of her thigh." She and a man are sitting on the couch and she pulls her dress up so that he can see her bruise. As the story transpires, the man is seduced and each time he presses gently, at first, on her bruise the woman has an orgasm. While this is going on, the house is being repainted white on the outside and the couple tries to be quiet so that the painters won't hear them. On one side of the house, it is being stripped and the other side is being painted, being made virginal, white, again. At one point, the man, unnamed, considers making a fresh, tart lemonade for her, also unnamed. Throughout the story, until the very end, we are not sure if this man or another man or no one at all caused the bruise, which is quite significant in size. Dybek is one of my favorite writers because he can cram so much into a story and create a mood and the story can be read time and time again without ever being totally understood. While the writing is specific and tight, what the reader brings to it is what completes it. And, it's different with each reading.

The story was first published in Epoch, then in Dybek's collection, Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories, 2014 and then in Flash Fiction International, 2015.

31 July, 2011

Stuart Dybek, Oceanic"

The story, "Oceanic," is a great romp through Greek mythology, fairy tales, realism, Romanticism, fantasy, magic realism, and whatever else Dybek dreams or dares to put together. It is divided into 7 sections, 13 pages, with different viewpoints. It is the first story in the current, Summer 2011 issue, of Zoetrope: All-Story.

1. omniscient, tells various versions of the lifeguard's story, had he saved the girl, did a dolphin save him, did he revive the girl with a kiss, etc. And, the myth that the girl pretends to drown so that she can swallow the souls of the lifeguards
2. 1st person POV of Bryan; Duane Shelly, college roommate, convinces Bryan that all it takes to be Romantic is to speak with a Big O, circular vowel; Mariel, Bryan's girlfriend, is the girl who drowned;
3. 3rd person POV, female artist
4. 3rd person POV, female artist, her parents disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle and she is then raised by the twin of her mother, in various mythologies twins can be 2 halves of the same; one evil, one good; sun / moon; earth / heavens;
5. Mariel and Bryan
6. 3rd person POV, balloon man; "Why, my sweet girl, has no one ever told you every umbrella is a big top?" All the world is a circus.
7. Bryan playing Lord Byron (Romantic poet, hero to the Greeks in their War of Independence from Ottomans)

trident=Poseidon=sometimes caused drownings, Neptune, devil
umbrella=big top, circus, symbol in most sections
pink bikini=symbol in most sections

Stuart Dybek, Lannan Foundation
interview with Dybek, Our Stories

02 January, 2010

Lynn Freed, "Ma: A Memoir," and Stuart Dybek

Listened to "Ma: A Memoir" written by Lynn Freed and read by Marian Seldes on Selected Shorts on NPR. I've read this story before and also listened to the author read it. I think I listened to it on the Narrative Magazine web site.

It is a wonderful short story about a husband dying of cancer, the slightly senile and cantankerous wife and the accomodating daughter and their psychological dance.

Lynn Freed was one of the teachers/lecturers at Squaw Valley in 2008. I enjoyed her talks very much.

Read "Woodie Hart" with waiting in mind. Like Dybek said in his essay, once you think about it, waiting is everywhere. It is so funny how timely things are sometimes. "Woodie Hart" has a great deal to do with waiting and planning.

31 December, 2009

Stuart Dybek, "Waiting" and Ernest Hemingway

Read essay, "Waiting" by Stuart Dybek in the current issue of Zoetrope: All-Story.

It is a funny and poignant essay about "waiting" in Hemingway as well as in other writers' works, for example, Fitzgerald, Wharton, James Joyce, Chekhov, Kafka, and more. It begins with a hilarious story about when he and a poet friend attended a "gathering" and its attendant sweat lodge. It moves through relationships with women, illness, more waiting.

Quoted from the essay " seems as if the forward thrust of narrative, as if the very action of verbs, is illusory, that no matter the story, or how it's told, or by whom, the inescapable conclusion is that life--not just life on the page, but life at its core--waits."

In March, 2009, I attended a Dybek reading and waited in line for my copy of The Coast of Chicago to be signed, only to mutter something to him about a young woman who I'd recently met who was totally enamored. He was gracious and said, "my daughter's name is Ann so obviously I like that name." I was so happy to be able to attend his reading as well as the Q&A earlier in the day.

This essay is a wonderful inclusion to the journal matched with the story by Hemingway, "The Killers" which is, in the end, about waiting.

Stuart Dybek was awarded a MacArthur Award in 2007.