Short Stories All the Time

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

28 June, 2012

James Lasdun, "Delirium Eclipse"

Lewis is a player and a cad and then we find out that he was a scrawny kid the other kids teased. He's now in charge, temporarily, of a large amount of money for projects overseas. He finds a hedonistic girl to take along then we watch him succumb to sickness and paranoia. Towards the end Lewis almost makes a change in himself and then he doesn't but it is up to interpretation as the slightest bit of suspicion is thrown onto Clare.

I like Lasdun's stories and found this one in the anthology, The Literary Traveler: An Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. "Delirium Eclipse" was first published in in1985 in Lasdun's collection of the same name.

Lasdun is the author of the short story, "The Siege" on which the movie Besieged was based.

James Lasdun's web site
British Council web site
An interview from 2006, Identity Theory blog web site

24 December, 2011

James Lasdun, "Ate/Menos or The Miracle"

A man wakes with some anxiety and finds himself at church taking Communion despite the fact that he's not Catholic. Shortly after leaving the church service a woman, Madeleine, mistakes him for Matthew Delacorte, a play director. Without substantive consideration he goes along with her mistake until he finds himself at her house and after several drinks, they have sex. The husband, or ex-husband, arrives and reveals that he knows Matthew Delacorte and that this man, Oliver, is not Delacorte. Madeleine has a special needs daughter, about seven, who is locked in a padded room with only cloth toys. Suky who insists on being called Kiku is another iteration of identity crisis or identity change or remaking of identity. The story wraps identity inside identity tied with a bow of physics, Homeric ideas, and magic storytelling. This is a fantastic story and with each reading nuances reveal themselves and the complexity of concepts wrapped in a seemingly simple story. Lasdun's sentences hold astute and probing sentiments. It is written in a first-person POV which is also interesting because it creates another level of identity mystery and first-person unreliability.

"Ate/Menos or The Miracle" was made into a movie called "Sunday" in 1997 and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. I put it next on my Netflix queue. "Ate/Menos or The Miracle" is the classic reprint this month in Zoetrope: All-Story.

"The words that left my lips as fact, reached her as fiction."

16 May, 2010

James Lasdun, "Oh, Death"

In this story,the first-person narrator is revealed only through--except for one paragraph--the things he sees in his troubled neighbor, Rick Parker. Rick drinks too much, has anger issues, biker wife with two previous kids. Faye and Rick proceed to have two more that they cannot afford; he works at least two jobs to make ends meet and feels betrayed by most everyone and eventually is betrayed by Faye. Rick is an old-fashioned environmentalist, loves nature, has some knowledge but desecrates it anyway and doesn't like the encroaching development. Although, a perennially positive person we are not surprised when he becomes angry. Voyeuristic, first person POV reveals little--except that he has a lucrative profession, a new car, likes to sing when he drives--about the unnamed narrator and virtually nothing about his wife but at the end of the story, the narrator is faced--in an almost magical realist way--with his own mortality.

The first time I read this story I failed to comprehend the complexity and richness of the themes and the artful way they are embedded in the story. We are never bashed in the head with themes or aboutness. I read it a second and third time and am finding it to be rich and compelling. In this story, what is not told to us but shown to us through the narrator's eyes, I find particularly compelling. And, that we never really learn what Faye thinks mirrors that we never really know another person's thoughts. Life has it's ups and downs: "...pain and sweetness, tension and release, frugality and spilling richness..." and Rick deals the best he knows.

"Oh, Death" by James Lasdun was first published in The Paris Review with the title, "The Hollow," and subsequently in The PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories 2010. I think "Oh, Death," is a better title; at the end of the story, a nice circle is made and you can almost hear the narrator speak those words, "Oh, Death," as if it is the "wild creature standing in the doorway."

Here's a link to an interview with Lasdun.

03 November, 2009

James Lasdun, "The Natural Order"

Read another James Lasdun story, "The Natural Order." It is about 2 men, one an extroverted playboy and the other a monogamous married man. I think it is about how a person knows himself/herself like that cliche, you know the kind of person you are when times are tough. In this case, Abel learns that he does not know himself.

As far as my story, "Woodie Hart" goes, I think one of my problems is that my writing is not "close" and when I expect that kind of intimacy, there's a disconnect. And, I think I'm afraid to allow the p.o.v. character to be too philosophical because I don't want to be didactic.

30 October, 2009

James Lasdun, "An Anxious Man"

Read James Lasdun's short story, "An Anxious Man," the first story in his new collection, It's Beginning to Hurt. It is an excellent probe into the psyche of a man who suddenly has money.