Short Stories All the Time

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

03 November, 2014

Kathryn Harrison, "Pilgrim's Progress"

A Joan of Arc enthusiast, fanatic she calls herself, goes on a tour, i.e. pilgrimage, to France with a group of others. It is hilarious as she tells of her trials and tribulations of traveling with strangers and group leaders who turn out to be Christian evangelicals. I loved this story and laughed all the way through it.

I suppose one has to acknowledge the title is the same as the famous Christian allegory by John Bunyan from 1678. I've never attempted to read the 17th century work but Harrison's short story does also include some of the narrator's difficulties with and deliverances from religion.

Kathryn Harrison is actually a Joan of Arc scholar.

The first person POV and present tense help make the reader feel like he/she is on the trip as well. "Pilgrim's Progress" is in the current issue of Zoetrope: All-Story, Volume 18, Number 3, Fall 2014.

04 December, 2011

Wayne Harrison, "Storm Damage"

Tiffany has decided to leave alcoholic Danny and return home to her mother's house and take up the responsibility of raising her child, Marcy. The story is a familial train wreck of abuse for Tiffany and her mother, Elaine, at the hand's of Elaine's second ex-husband, Bert and Danny.

Harrison creates a setting and characters who move with ease or at least a believable familiarity with each other without sensationalism.

The story is written in first person point-of-view which I think lends to the sense of immediacy and danger. It is about 9 pages long and published in issue number 79, Spring 2011, Crazyhorse.

short bio at Narrative Magazine web site about Harrison
link to full story, "Least Resistance," in the Atlantic

07 March, 2011

Wayne Harrison, "Least Resistance"

This first-person POV story includes a nineteen-year old car mechanic and his boss's wife, Mary Ann, who lost a baby to sudden death syndrome. Nick, the husband, is some kind of a genius about repairing cars and revving them up; however, his business is beginning to fail because he supposedly is making mistakes and the customers are returning. Sprinkled in the mix is farting and belching Tommy, another mechanic. When Nick and Mary Ann decide to move back to Oregon, from Connecticut, Justin, the nineteen-year old, suddenly feels abandoned and he panics and asks Nick if he can follow them to Oregon, Justin's "path of least resistance." Probably the most honest and forthright person is Tommy Costello whose emotions are on the surface and his opinions are loudly spoken and demonstrated with physicality. Nick returns customers' money, his path of least resistance. We learn near the end of the story that Mary Ann had been sabatoging Nick's car repairs and that is her path of least resistance in convincing Nick to move back to Oregon. The name of the car repair shop is Out of the Hole Automotive which immediately tells us that some, if not all, of the characters are probably trying to get out of some hole that they've either dug for themselves or had thrust upon them. Nice set up and I even enjoyed the car repair descriptions.

"Least Resistance" is included in the 2010 Best American Short Stories edited by Richard Russo and was first published in The Atlantic.

UCLA Extension Writers' Program, bio for Harrison
find the book near you
NPR link to review