Short Stories All the Time

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

06 June, 2017

Smith Henderson, "Treasure State"

Daniel, 15, and his older brother, John, embark on a road trip supposedly to Montana, the Treasure State. They’re escaping their abusive father who is being released from prison, plans to go home, and has advanced cancer.

The themes, for me, include loneliness, “John felt terrifically alone,” and fairness, “people don’t get what they deserve, everything oh every last thing is given out at random.” Daniel has had to suffer the punishments that John thought he deserved instead. And dread, “But John did not sleep, such was his dread.” While rage and suppressed anger and sadness are evident, the story reaches deeper than just the expected themes. I think that’s one of the strengths of the story. John is surprisingly mature and because of his good nature, his little brother might end up okay. John realizes at the end of the story that while he’s sad, lonely, and angry, “there was nothing to be afraid of, nothing to do but see him off,” and he doesn’t kill his father as he’d planned. John had also felt guilt or anger that he hadn’t saved him and his brother but that a random stop by the police was what saved them. “It was pure luck that the old man had been caught red-handed and went down. Though it galled John that a broken tail-light saved them.”

The trajectory of their traveling is circular ending up finally back home. The physical traveling echoes the repetition of abuse, same thing again and again. To make money, the two young men, rob houses of people while they attend funerals. There is a night that John is trapped underneath the bed of a woman mourning her children. John gets the sleep he needed and vicariously experiences the mourning. The story is very well structured and wrapped neatly into a thematic narrative without anything superfluous. And, even includes suspense. It's damn good.

“Treasure State” was first published in Tin House. Then it was included in the The Best American Short Stories, 2016.

16 August, 2016

Smith Henderson, "The Trouble"

"The Trouble" is in the current edition, Volume 19, Issue 62, Summer 2016, issue of American Short Fiction. It's written in a close, 3rd person POV. And, is in simple past tense. It's a lovely read and feels more like a novel in that there are many people in the story who could at another instant take on a major narrative role. Almost more than a story about a particular person, it is the story of a town, a small community where everyone knows everyone else's business, and worries, and preferences. It takes place in Montana.

LINK:
Smith Henderson's web site

23 August, 2010

Smith Henderson, "Number Stations"

This story, "Number Stations," is issue number 136 of One-Story. Written in shifting third-person point-of-view and divided into fifteen scenes. Dick Goldsmith's hit-and-run six years earlier haunts him, an ostrich runs lose, Nanna is scared by radio interferences, a parolee tries to keep his job, Charity wants to be beautiful and free at only age seven, Dick's wife runs a flower shop where the customers have to make appointments. Eccentric characters and lots of activity make this a fun read but many of the scenes and most of the characters do not push the story forward.

On the One-Story blog, they refer to this story as being written in an omniscient voice.  To me it seems more like shifting, limited, in that the viewpoint shifts around to various people. I didn't get the sense of an omniscient presence who knows everything.