Short Stories All the Time

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

17 November, 2014

Zadie Smith, "The Embassy of Cambodia"

Zohar Lazar
The story is divided into 21 sections with the point of view shifting between a plural 1st person we and 3rd person from Fatou's viewpoint. It takes place in a North London suburb on a street lined with large houses surrounded by tall fences. One of them is the Cambodian Embassy and nearby is a health center where Fatou goes to swim with her illicit guest access card. She sometimes meets her Nigerian friend, Andrew, and he regales her with his knowledge gleaned from the internet to which he has access and Fatou does not. The story raises issues of class and hatred and politics and genocides. Fatou works for a family that is not nice to her and they do not even pay her and she wonders if she is enslaved.

The badminton game at the embassy has caught the attention of all the neighbors. Every Monday as Fatou goes to the gym to swim, she sees the badminton shuttlecock flying above the fence. No noise or dialogue is ever heard from behind the tall red brick fence but the game continues uninterrupted.

"The Embassy of Cambodia" was published in the New Yorker in February of 2013.

Wikipedia page about Zadie Smith
Interview Magazine article about Smith
article in the New Republic about Zadie Smith
review, from Sydney Morning Herald

24 October, 2010

Lee Smith, "Toastmaster"

This story was first published in the online journal Narrative and is included in Smith's Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger collection. "Toastmaster" is written in third-person POV and present tense. Jeffrey, the Invisible Boy, and his professor mother and her new friend from the conference in Key West are at a restaurant where a large group of big men, Toastmasters, are drinking and telling jokes and having a grand time. Jeffrey, eleven but often mistaken for just eight, does not know who his father is and imagines that he has a dead twin brother named Rick. The story is about wanting and needing recognition and the way in which this very bright boy goes about finding his place in the world as Toastmaster.

It is a delight to read, the voice is clear and unique, and I love the way Smith incorporated the new words this precocious boy is learning.

I bought this book months ago but hadn't read any of it until I listened to an interview with Jill McCorkle and she talked about how much she had learned from Lee Smith.

Lee Smith's website
Wikipedia site
short interview, Wall Street Journal
YouTube interview, Southern Environmental Law Center with Lee Smith