Short Stories All the Time

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

19 January, 2014

Benjamin Percy, "The Indelible Image: Moments Make Movies, Moments Make Stories"

In this month's issue of Writer's Chronicle there is a great essay about scenes and moments and images. Percy includes excerpts by himself, Tobias Wolff and Cormac McCarthy to illustrate his points.

These lines struck me in particular.

"Be specific when something is interesting. When something is interesting, you look at it longer. You prolong and amplify."

"Save the attention to detail for the scenes that matter most."

"…reap the images and then divorce them from life, find a construct that feels more truthful and compelling than reality."

The entire essay is compelling and a great read, very helpful.

11 December, 2011

Benjamin Percy, "Wanting Only to be Gone"

A father wants out, out of being a father. An exhausted father--teacher during the day--on his way to the grocery store continues on past and daydreams about driving until he has to piss or runs of out of gasoline. His infant daughter has colic and has screamed since her birth and he's developed a tic over it. There is a bit of humor in the story.

The story is only about 1,000 words long and is written in a very close third person point of view and present tense. It reads almost like a first person story.The reader is inside the main character's mind, privy to his thoughts and feelings. Percy uses a lot of dashes in his sentences and they work well in this very short story. I cannot remember if he tends to use a lot of dashes in all of his stories.

The character daydreams the typical "man dreams" such as living in a cave and surviving off the land and jumping into a red convertible with a woman without telling his wife. All the while he knows that he'll turn out like the "middle-aged and big-bellied" man he saw jogging a few days before. What makes these daydreams more than cliches is the wonderful descriptions and the easy flow these imaginings emerge from the mind of the main character. 

FAVORITE LINE: "He wishes he could stay in the car forever."

Percy's web page

07 December, 2010

Jen Percy, "Field Trip"

First-person story told by a student on a field trip to a farm where he/she learns how to birth a goat. The story is short, two and one-half pages. Published in the fall 2010 issue of American Short Fiction. This story is the first place winner in the American Short(er) Fiction Prize contest. It's a nice concise story with some great visual descriptions.

16 October, 2010

Benjamin Percy, "The Locksmith"

"The Locksmith" is written in present tense, third-person POV and is about 8,000 words. Brian, a locksmith and Iraq veteran, learned the locksmithing trade from his father. We meet Brian as he traps beaver for "a sewing project." For an instant I thought of Buffalo Bill in the Silence of the Lambs film. And, indeed, later we find out exactly what kind of sewing project it is. Brian is called away from his beaver traps early in the story to unlock a house of a woman who had gone out jogging and locked herself out; well, actually her "idiot" husband locked her out and she calls Brian. Some suspense is built and was anxious to find out what Brian is going to do with the key he cut for himself of Karen's lock but savored the descriptions of Brian's life in the military and the environment of this rural setting which are beautifully written and interesting. The ending is the kind I like in a short story. The reader has to decide for herself exactly what the protagonist decides to do. So, I was well satisfied until I read the bio in the back of the journal and found out that this is a novel excerpt. Ugh. Tell me up front please. Now, I feel like that is not necessarily the ending for a story but just a stopping place for a novel excerpt.

Tin House
Percy's website about The Wilding
review of The Wilding by

22 February, 2010

Michael Schiavone, "Mountain Top Automotive" and Benjamin Percy, "The Whisper"

Started the day off with some work on "Vera, Vera."

Read "Mountain Top Automotive" by Michael Schiavone which is included in the Vol. 14, No. 1 issue of Crab Orchard Review. It's written in 1st person POV. Tucker, car mechanic, works for Red, a swindler, until Tuck decides it might be time to run his own shop.

Read Benjamin Percy's story, "The Whisper" which is included in both his collection, Refresh, Refresh, and Cream City Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, with siblinghood as the theme. Orland and Jacob, brothers, Orland's secrets revealed after Jacob's death. It's written in 3rd person POV, Jacob's close limited POV in the first section, then the remainder of the story is in Orland's POV.

24 January, 2010

Ha Jin, interview and Benjamin Percy, "Me Vs. Animals"

Read an interview with Ha Jin published in the current, No. 191, issue of The Paris Review. Included is a reproduction of a manuscript page from his short story, "An English Professor." It's interesting to compare the in-process manuscript page with the finished and published version in the Summer 2009 issue of Zoetrope: All Story. It shows word changes and the shifts in cadence by the word changes. He was born in 1956 in China, came to the United States in 1985, and started writing in English in 1989. He has won many awards and teaches at Boston University.

Also, today, I read Benjamin Percy's 8-page "Me Vs. Animals," a memoir in the same issue of The Paris Review.

06 August, 2009

Benjamin Percy; Clarence John Laughlin; and Richard Dokey, "Zippers" and "Terrible Beauty"

Read, "A Conversation with Benjamin Percy," and Richard Dokey's "Zippers,"
and "Terrible Beauty: The Visual Poems of Clarence John Laughlin," in
The Missouri Review, Volume 32, No. 2, 2009.

I'm over my funk so tomorrow I'll work on "Woodie Hart."