Short Stories All the Time

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

03 May, 2012

Jess Row, "The Call of Blood"

"The Call of Blood" was originally published in the Harvard Review. At about 26 pages long, I think it went on a bit and strayed somewhat from the central focus of Mrs. Kang, Hyunjee and Kevin. Hyunjee's daughters were unnecessary as well as the affair between Hyunjee and Kevin. In my opinion, the story would have been more succinct and strong if the entirety took place in Mrs. Kang's room as the story started. And, for me, Kevin taking Korean language class was pushing the point a bit further than necessary. All in all, I liked the story but was annoyed with the lack of quotation marks for dialogue. It read easily at first and then became muddied and not as crystal clear in the exchanges. However, all that being said, I really liked the theme and the characters were believable. Alzheimer was both a realistic emotional health event and a tool for studying and highlighting the ways racism is perpetuated.

"The Call of Blood" was selected for inclusion in the Best American Short Stories, 2011. He was also included in the 2010 edition!
LINKS:
Jess Row's web page
an interview with Row about his collection, The Train to Lo Wu, Gotham Writers' Workshop in this interview, "Your writing is distinctive; it really doesn’t look or feel like anyone else’s work." I agree with that very much. In another Row story, I wrote that his story is a psychological study and things happen only because they need to so that he can have a piece of fiction. I think his Zen bent shows and I like that.

23 May, 2010

Jess Row, "Sheep May Safely Graze"

Jess Row's short story, "Sheep May Safely Graze" is one of those stories that demands more than one reading. The narrator has lost his eight-year old daughter to a freak explosion. His grief, that he refuses to acknowledge, is, he says, pure and simple mourning. The senseless death of a homeless man sends the narrator into a horrible plan of action. Death, senseless and arbitrary, is juxtaposed with an equally senseless job and the arbitrariness of political action or inaction that in the end has real implications for the lives of others.

This story is written in first person POV and past tense. The viewpoint is  very close, claustrophobic almost, and introverted to the point that although the narrator has some interactions with his wife and a couple of other people, it always feels as though the narrator is closed off, separated. It reminds me of Benjamin, in the movie, The Graduate, when he is in the swimming pool wearing the goggles.

This story, originally published in Threepenny Review, is now in The PEN/O.HenryPrize Stories, 2010.