Short Stories All the Time

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

07 October, 2014

David Guterson, "Tenant"

Shawn Ghemawat an Indian/American living in Seattle rents his old apartment because he moved into his parent's house in Shoreline when they moved into assisted living. He's forty-six and lacks confidence and has some identity crisis. "'Indian,' he told the fair-skinned Lydia Williams, without knowing exactly what that meant about himself..." One of the great images is of Shawn standing next to a bare mannequin. He worried that "he had to be--surely he was--an olfactory offense to Lydia..."

Lydia is his new tenant--he had not met her because a finder leased the apartment for Shawn--and Shawn has become obsessed with getting to know something about Lydia so he makes up a reason to meet her, he needs to show her where the cut off valve is for the water in case of an emergency. Then he sees how she has decorated the apartment and he's appalled and worried about the marks that'll be left behind on the walls. He's also keen on being "Mr. Good Son" so he visits his parents routinely.

"Tenant" was first published in the New England Review and then in Guterson's collection, Problems with People.

03 October, 2014

David Guterson, "Paradise"

Sixty something Benaroya Hall meets a man on match.com. On their third date they go to a lodge in Paradise, Washington with a view of the Tatoosh Range in the Mount Ranier National Park. She tells the story of her youth leading to when Clifton Rider, her high school sweetheart, died in the snow after waiting for her. In the telling of the story, the POV character realizes "approximately where he stood in her life."

One detail that bothered me is that she has "bobbed silver hair" and later the male character notices "her silver hair hanging. It unfurled, he thought, like a Möbius strip." It doesn't seem like bobbed hair would unfurl.

"Paradise" reminds me of James Joyce's "The Dead" which has an ending also revealing to Gabriel how little he means to his wife or just how much a dead person meant at one point.

"Paradise" was first published in American Scholar and then included in Guterson's collection, Problems with People just published in 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf.