Short Stories All the Time

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

17 November, 2013

Stephanie Coyne DeGhett, "Icons of the Everyday: Postcard Sleight of Hand and the Short Story"

Postcards, one-sided narratives or "open-faced narratives," have been used in short fiction pieces by many writers and in this essay, Stephanie Coyne DeGhett discusses six authors and stories: Hempel's "The New Lodger," Kaplan's "Love, Your Only Mother," Paley's "A Woman, Young and Old," Munro's "Postcard," Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain," and Millhauser's "The Sepia Postcard."

My favorite point that DeGhett makes is that,

"Of its readers, it (a postcard) demands an ability to write the story you are reading yourself, to fill in the gaps between the frame story and the small disclosures of the postcard, to see the disjunctions of meaning and layers of intention."

To me that is what a short story does and so a postcard is a short story of a short story, so to speak. This is an interesting article and one to hang on to for re-reading. There are many thoughts about short fiction that I want to revisit.

"…the postcard serves economy in the fiction that appropriates it by virtue of the associations it carries with it--travel, separation, impermanence--and its potential to subvert those associations…"

"Cryptic but not uncommunicative, the story shares a good deal in common with the nature of the picture postcard."

DeGhett's essay is in the December 2013 issue of The Writer's Chronicle.

19 March, 2010

Annie Proulx, "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?"

Read Annie Proulx's story, "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?" included in the collection, Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2. It is, if there is such a thing, an epic short story covering an entire century, 1897-2000. Gilbert, a stubborn Wyoming rancher, marries, divorces, has two sons, weathers the changing land, developers, ex-wife's incarceration and finding out that one of his sons is gay. This story, like many of Proulx's, is written in an omniscient mode. Sometimes, it seems as though it is just shifting 3rd person POV.

29 November, 2009

Annie Proulx, "Tits-Up in a Ditch"

Read Annie Proulx's short story, "Tits-Up in a Ditch" published in The New Yorker, June 9 & 16, 2008 issue as well as being the final story in her short story collection, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3. It is written in 3rd person p.o.v., shifting limited. It covers four generations of wrenchingly poor and uneducated people. Dakotah, raised by her grandparents, ends up in Iraq, her husband maimed, and her toddler killed in an accident, and somehow remains, the strongest person in the story.

Here is a link to an interview with Proulx and Charlie Rose:
They talk about her book Close Range and the craft of writing.

26 September, 2009

Annie Proulx, "Them Old Cowboy Songs"

Have worked on "His Parents, My Parents, and Needle-Nosed Pliers" quite a bit today. I'm still having trouble with creating a story arc and I'm not totally sure I want to. Although, Aristotle said a story had to have a beginning, middle, and an end, I'm not sure what that means, really. I'm also not sure I want a traditional Freitag angle; action, rising action, climax and resolution. I guess I'm trying to rationalize because I know that my stories are no good. Sure, they have some okay sections but overall, they still lack "story-ness."

Read Annie Proulx's short story, "Them Old Cowboy Songs." It is included in her latest collection, Fine Just the Way It Is. As most of her stories, this one is in a shifting 3rd person point-of-view. This story is divided into 3 "chapters:" Archie & Rose, 1885; Archie & Sink; and Rose & the Coyotes. Like most of her stories, this one is full of rough living and hard knocks. It includes a poignant woman's scene and although, the story takes place within two or three years, it seems like a lifetime of work and struggle.

And, again, like Proulx's other stories, the characters names are wonderful and fun and descriptive. Archie McLaverty, Rose, Bunk Peck, Tom Ackler, Sundown Mealor, Rufus Clatter, Robert F. Dorgan, Queeda, Gold Dust the cat, Karok, Sink Gartrell, just to name a few.

20 September, 2009

Annie Proulx, "Family Man"

Read Annie Proulx's short story, "Family Man," included in her latest collection, Fine Just the Way It Is. ((spoiler alert)) It is about an old man's telling of a painful betrayal by his father who had three other, unknown until the patriarch's death, families in which the children shared the same names.

Proulx employs some wonderful names for her characters: Mellowhorn, who ran a hedonistic retirement home; Ray Forkenbrock, another character mistakes his name for Forkenknife (not to mention something else it could sound like); Deb Slaver, who becomes a slave to her husband's incapacity; Bledsoes, bleeding heart family. Of course, I've reduced her characters to stereotypes to make my point.

This story is in a shifting third-person point-of-view and the setting is rich in detail, three stuffed dogs guard the front door and the residents are served whiskey every afternoon.

The story feels like an earlier time until a digital camera and immense gas drilling and roadway improvements are introduced. Then the contradictory historical lives contrast nicely with the contemporaneous granddaughter Beth.

Proulx also continues plucking the suspense string so the story rings of a fireside tale and takes away the retirement home sentimentality or sadness.

26 July, 2009

Annie Proulx, "The Wamsutter Wolf," and Charles E. May, "This is Me"

Submitted "See Sally See" to a Glimmer Train contest.

And, read Annie Proulx's "The Wamsutter Wolf." This story is set in Wyoming and she created such complete characters that I felt I'd stepped into their world, albeit a scary world. By now, we are used to Proulx's hard, tough, raunchy people; however, I never tire of them. I read the story twice and will read it again and again.

Also, read Charles E. May's story, "This is Me." A PDF of it can be found at: I enjoyed this story about a woman waiting in the hospital for her mother to die. It is not sentimental and the first-person POV feels right for this kind of story.