Short Stories All the Time

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

28 August, 2016

Maile Meloy, "Madame Lazarus"

René Auberjonois read "Madame Lazarus" on Selected Shorts. It was a delightful reading. I had quite a good time following along with the printed copy from The New Yorker. An elderly divorced man lives with a younger, good looking man, James, who brings a dog home, "I knew he was trying to keep me occupied, and it is a ridiculous thing, to have a dog." It seems that James is not going to be much of a companion anymore with all of his traveling and the age difference and so maybe the dog is a replacement companion. The narrator balks at having a dog, but eventually comes to love and take great care of Cordelia, the little terrier named by James "for an English novel," maybe Brideshead Revisited?

We learn how the narrator dealt with his homosexuality when he was a young boy. World War II intervenes, his marriage and children, divorce, the death of his first love, a young boy who dies of tuberculosis. All of the narrator's backstory is seamlessly woven through the story of the life and death of Cordelia, who the vet called Madame Lazarus because she had come back to life, risen from the dead. The narrator begs Desi, the housekeeper, not to leave; he's facing his own mortality.

"Madame Lazarus" was published in The New Yorker magazine, June 23, 2014.

21 February, 2016

Maile Meloy, "Red From Green"

The story's title refers to a woman who has been exposed to toxins and can no longer differentiate what the red and green traffic lights mean. "Another had stopped driving, because she didn't always know whether a red light meant stop or go." The river trip is meant to entertain a new client of her uncle's and he serves as the catalyst that convinces Sam to go away to boarding school. She momentarily questions whether or not her father knew what he was doing when he left her alone with Layton.

Fifteen-year old Sam has gone river rafting with her father for as long as she can remember. Her mother died in a traffic accident when she was only four. She and her father have decided that she'll finish her high school education at a boarding school. Her father, a judge, is not a good judge when it comes to raising a teenaged daughter. Not that he doesn't try, he's just kind of at a loss and seems to know that somehow he is lacking in that area.

Sam meets Layton, a client of her uncle's, and her sexuality is burgeoning and while Layton starts to cross the line, he retreats and Sam goes on to boarding school and then we see her new friends and roommates exploring their sexuality and boundaries.

Another great story in the collection, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It. "Red From Green" was first published in The New Yorker. Link to a review of the collection at the NYT.

18 February, 2016

Maile Meloy, "Travis, B"

Touching story of two working-class people brought together, almost, in an unexpected manner. This third-person limited point of view story takes place in Montana in January. Chet Moran had polio as a child and has been on survival mode developing somewhat of a philosophical and analytical mindset. He understands animals and broke horses when he was fourteen. She, Beth, never knew her father and somehow managed to make it through law school but ends up with a job where she does "all the crap no one else wants to do." The author does an exceptional job of straddling the fence where a person who is working hard to better her situation still has empathy and kindness towards someone who maybe isn't going to make it to her social position. We also see how Beth might not even make it to that so-called higher social standing.

"Travis, B" is in the current issue of Zoetrope: All-Story as the classic reprint as it is one of three stories that the filmmaker, Kelly Reichardt, has made into a film, Certain Women which will premiere in 2016, this year, at the Sundance Film Festival. The short story was first published in The New Yorker and then included in Meloy's collection, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It.