Short Stories All the Time

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

25 April, 2015

Barry Hannah, "Our Secret Home"

First published in Esquire magazine back in the 1970s, this is, in my opinion, a southern gothic story, kind of a crazy aunt in the attic type of story. In this case, an imbecilic twin sister upstairs perpetually reading Heidi. Mickey Lee and his wife, Carolyn, are having a party, which they've done many times in the past. However, this time, hardly anyone shows up and the closest reason they determine is that the woman upstairs gives people the creeps and who knows what else is hiding in their imaginations which may or may not be true. ?

Here's a link to a wonderful essay from Publishers Weekly about Hannah. 
I have to agree whole heartedly with this essay. LOL. I've only read three Barry Hannah stories so far!

24 April, 2015

Barry Hannah, "Green Gets It"

The first line contains tension and questions, "unable to swim" and "maneuvered to fall." The man couldn't swim but he "learned how." In the first 48 words of the story we see a man attempt suicide but the natural urge to live is stronger than that. He is about to turn seventy. "Does the fire never stop?" Then he wonders about the suicide letters he wrote to Jill Jones who did house cleaning in the nude and him following, i.e. chasing and sniffing her in his unnecessary wheelchair as well as the letter he wrote to his daughter. "...suffer the curse of this old pair of eyes spying blind at the minnows in the Hudson. Your Dad, Crabfood."

He screams, "kill me," as he rides his bicycle to LaGuardia airport and asks himself why he never smoked or drank. He admits that he killed two men when he "was intercepting hooch." Then he kills another moonshiner, "I had to blast him. I hit him in the hair."

Then he and his wife move to Arizona to bust illegal stills on the reservations and he kills a seventy year old Apache man. The narrator claims he doesn't feel bad about it because "I think he wanted it bad." "Like me now," Just as the narrator now wants it, death, bad.

Quarles was with two other FBI agents when he was recognized as the murderer of Batson's son. He shoots the witness in the leg. We see the narrator uphold the racist ideas in Alabama in the 1970s. After being out of the south for ten years, he's returning to Memphis. He has a heart attack and dies on the plane. Quarles Green got it.

The story required several readings until I was able to mesh with the voice of the narrator and the author as well as the shifting POVs of "Green Gets It." It is an interesting story with a government agent murdering racist old man as the protagonist.

An essay, "Among Mutinous Helium Bursts Around Saturn by Jamie Quatro, 2009, published in Oxford American 

23 April, 2015

Barry Hannah, "Water Liars"

"Water Liars" is part of Hannah's collection called Airships published in 1978. He later won the PEN/Malamud Award for the collection. I have a reprinted edition, 2004, with an appreciation foreword by Richard Ford. I've known about Hannah's reputation and influence for many years but somehow never got around to reading any of his short stories. "Water Liars" is told in first-person POV and is about the hypocrisy, double standards, truths laid bare and the realization of such by the thirty-three year old narrator. He and his wife, after many vodka tonics, decided to have a truth telling session when he learned that she'd had sex with other men before they knew each other. Even though his history was similar, he was greatly bothered by this revelation. He goes to the pier where the local old men meet to tell tales and he admits and hears tales about men and women, some not so nice.

All in all, a great story, with wonderful sentences. For example, "The line up is always different, because they're always dying out or succumbing to constipation, etc., whereupon they go back to the cabins and wait for a good day when they can come out and lie again, leaning on the rail with coats full of bran cookies." My gosh, is that great or what?

Wikipedia page about Hannah
full text version of the story from Garden and Gun magazine