Short Stories All the Time

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

14 April, 2014

Antonya Nelson, "Chapter Two"

Hil goes to AA meetings and regales the attendees with stories of her neighbor, Bergeron Love, a wealthy drunk who lives next door. The neighborhood is run down, the people are run down and eccentric. We don't know what's going to happen to Hil but Bergeron Love doesn't make it. Hil will probably continue using Bergeron's shenanigans instead of admitting her own lies and behavior.
Hil "got some laughs" at the AA meetings when she talked about the naked lady at her doorstep. Hil doesn't stop drinking even as she claims to be clean at the meetings. There were other stories, productive ones, about Bergeron that Hil could have told but what fun would that have been. Hil needed to be entertaining and was probably focusing on Bergeron so that she could stop any self-reflection.

"Chapter Two" was first published in The New Yorker and then selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories, 2013.

24 August, 2012

Kent Nelson, "Searching for Beauty"

Limited 3rd person POV narrator tells the story of Haley, out of control adult daughter, and father, Milton, both of whom are "searching for beauty." The story starts with Milton's idyllic life out on the water in his fancy boat. This quickly unravels when he gets the telephone call from his daughter in which she just says goodbye. I liked the story until the Zuni Buddhist was introduced. "Mystical" stories just get on my nerves. I guess I read too much Carlos Castaneda in my youth. However, I mostly liked the story and especially the open ended ending. The story was suspenseful. The Vermeer references bothered me as he, while concerned with light and lighting effects, is not the best choice of an artist reference when talking about landscapes, harbors and islands.

"Searching for Beauty" is included in the summer 2012 issue of the Antioch Review.

Wikipedia page about Nelson
page from about Nelson

18 September, 2010

Antonya Nelson, "Here on Earth"

"Here on Earth" portrays Darcy's first return trip to her birthplace with her divorced mother. Driving around Chicago, Darcy's mother nostalgically relives her pregnancy and youthful marriage including frank discussions of conception and hormones.  "Here on Earth" written by Antonya Nelson in a close 3rd person POV probes the thirteen-year old's embarrassments with a deft hand as well as the memories of an adult woman now on her own with a teenage daughter.. It's lovely and touching without being corny or sentimental. In the essay following the story, Nelson writes, "My way into this story was by occupying different stages of my own development." This story is one of twenty in You Must Be This Tall To Ride: Contemporary Writers Take You Inside the Story. After each story, the authors have written essays about how the stories came to be and also include a writing assignments. A couple of my favorite authors included are: Stuart Dybek, Benjamin Percy, and Laura Van Den Berg.

"Here on Earth" was included in her 1992 collection, In the Land of Men.

Upon re-reading the story, I'm struck by the wholeness of the picture created about Darcy's mother, the mother/daughter relationship, a whole and yet two parts.

REA Award page
Wikipedia biography
University of Houston faculty web page
Simon and Schuster bio page
You Must Be This Tall To Ride page

07 March, 2010

Antonya Nelson, "Story V. Novel"

Read Antonya Nelson's essay, "Story V. Novel," published in Writers Ask, issue 47. She explains why novels are more commercially viable than short story collections. Her hypothesis is that "novels are usually about communities," and, "The short story is a truncated exposure to a moment..." And, since, communities endure and survive while individuals perish, the reading public does not want to be reminded of their mortality. I think, in part, she's correct, yet of course, I'm exaggerating to make my point, but I think, novels are passive, in general, akin to television detective shows, everything you need is given to you. In short stories, you have to, in the words of Alton Brown, bring something to the party.