Short Stories All the Time

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

18 March, 2012

Rebecca Makkai, "Peter Torrelli, Falling Apart"

Drew tells his story twenty-five years after the fact. We learn right away in the first line of the story that Drew--we do not know his name yet--is asked why he risked his career for Peter Torrelli who was movie-star handsome and gay as was Drew.  The story is written in first-person POV and past tense. We learn that Peter and Drew were high school buddies and that they shared the same phobia of automatically changing places with some random person and then they liked imagining their escape from the situation. It's an interesting set of issues Makkai conjures for Peter and Drew's burgeoning homosexuality and the ramifications of the boys' coming to terms with it and / or their ignoring it.

The story has references to other art forms, paintings and other short stories, which I always enjoy. Peter is one actor of several who are to read stories, one of which is by Stuart Dybek, written about works in the Art Institute of Chicago. Drew hires Peter hoping to help his friend but alas no such luck. Peter accidentally runs his hand across a painting in the museum which sounds the alarm and halts the live on-air story reading.

I'm not sure what the theme is other than change is inevitable and not always pleasant. Some people rise and some don't. We've all known people who we expected to excel and were surprised when something went awry, maybe even just one thing, and then his or her life seemed to tumble downhill. The story deals with homosexuality, anxiety, illness, maybe AIDS, happiness and expectations. Also are changes about cities and businesses; the last paragraph is about change larger than ourselves.

"Peter Torrelli, Falling Apart" was first published in Tin House and subsequently selected for Best American Short Stories, 2011.

LINKS:
Makkai's web site
interview with Makkai in Shenandoah
Tin House web site

16 January, 2010

Rebecca Makkai, "The Briefcase"

Attended LaRee Bryant's talk about creative process, POV, word count, formatting, agents, editors, and the publishing business in general. Even though she writes mysteries and historical novels, she has a lot of information and advice that spans all genres.

Listened again to the Selected Short reading of Rebecca Makkai's story, "The Briefcase."

Typed handwritten notes into the computer for my new story, "Vera, Vera."

09 January, 2010

Rebecca Makkai, "The Briefcase," and Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat"

Read Rebecca Makkai's short story, "The Briefcase," published in The Best American Short Stories, 2009. It is bleak, realistic in style and written in 3rd person POV. A prisoner in an unknown city escapes when his handcuffs slip off his thin wrists. The guard/soldier grabs an innocent man, a physics professor, from the street to replace the missing man, a chef, so that the count is correct.

The story was first published in The New England Review.

The author, Rebecca Makkai, was interviewed on Selected Shorts and said she had been influenced and recently reading Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat" and that the bleakness felt the same in her story as in Gogol's.

Worked on my new short story. It's a small pile of mess at the moment.