Short Stories All the Time

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

15 May, 2012

Mark Slouka, "The Hare's Mask"

"The Hare's Mask" was first published in Harper's Magazine and subsequently selected to be included in The Best American Short Stories, 2011. The narrator starts out in his adulthood recalling how he misses his father's silences. Then the narrator moves back in time to his childhood and what he surreptitiously found out about his father and then as an adult he asked for clarification. While part of the story is about his father's difficult childhood when he had to kill rabbits to eat while the family tried to protect a man from the Nazis but in turn are killed themselves with just the son (our narrator's father) surviving because he was at the neighbor's house when the Nazis abducted the rest of the family.

And, while that plot and those events are strong and powerful, I think the story is about how children sometimes try to protect their parents as well as the attempts of children to make sense of who their parents are by piecing together a narrative.


"'Some things you can finish,' he'd say."

"Because he'd understand about dates, and how things that aren't connected can seem to be, and that he'd been nine years old when it happened."


Wikipedia page about Slouka

11 September, 2011

Mark Slouka, "Crossing"

At just ten pages, this story packs a punch of suspense. It's told in a very close 3rd person POV. A divorced father takes his young boy on a camping trip. In more ways than one, the father feels his son's future as well as his own are on the line. The entire story, save a quick scene where he picks his son up at his ex-wife's and a very short reference to his father, the rest of the story is the driving to the area, pitching the tent, crossing the river, sleeping and eating. While the story is strong on plot or event(s), it does not ignore characterization.We see the father's dilemma and sadness that his marriage did not work and we know that he'd like to make things right. We also see his tenderness with his son.

I've never read Slouka but apparently he's been writing for a good long while and won many awards. He's also taught at several high-profile schools. He's written a collection of short stories and two novels. "Crossing" was first published in The Paris Review and subsequently selected for inclusion in PEN / O'Henry Prize Stories, 2011.

short biography on Book Browse
short essay / review about Slouka's criticism of the American educational system
Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School by Slouka
review at Kirkus Reviews of Lost Lake, 1998, (short story collection)