Short Stories All the Time

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

31 July, 2016

Christine Sneed, "You're So Different"

This very close third-person POV story is another about jealousy. This time a well-respected and somewhat successful Hollywood screenwriter goes to a twenty year high school reunion. Despite her better judgement she accepts a lunch invitation to Birdy and Cornell's home. She's under fire, somewhat, in the middle of lunch by Cornell. He's obviously jealous and probably feeling stuck in his life in the same small town where he went to high school. He'd at one time had ambitions to be a musician and evidently had talent. I like how the story changes mid-stream into being about Birdy and Cornell and not necessarily about Margaret, the narrator. So, even though it's told from Maggie's viewpoint and most of the narration is concerns her, the story shows how fiercely those green-eyed monsters are affecting Cornell's relationships, both close ones and not so close ones. Also, being the recipient of the intense jealousy makes Margaret analyze herself. On a second level, the story could be about writing and how just translating something that has happened does not make a story. Also, the importance to each of us to believe that our lives, our stories, are indeed worthy of being written into a screenplay.

"Some of her former classmates have sent letters in the past few years, saying how proud they are of her, offering ideas for future films, scenes from their lives she would never write about without adding something to corrupt the event, to turn it strange and absurd, or else tragic; she knows the changes would offend the letter-writers if she were ever to use their stories--the truth always curiously flat to her before its reworking, no matter how bizarre or scandalous."

"You're So Different" is included in Sneed's collection, Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry. This collection won the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction.

28 July, 2016

Christine Sneed, "Quality of Life"

Lyndsey meets a man, Mr. Fulger, in my head sounds like vulgar, and begins an affair. He is the one in charge of the times and places they meet. Lyndsey slips into accepting money from him and being otherwise totally pliable to him until she realizes that her life is no longer hers. The story opens with her trying to find out exactly who he is. She knows nothing about him. He's twice her age of twenty-six. He has her move to the west coast and take another job. "In any case, she did not know what she had expected--certainly not a marriage proposal, nor more permanent terms for their involvement. It seemed to her that primarily she had wanted acknowledgment of his steadfast desire for her, however infrequently this desire was manifested."It's written in a very close third-person point of view.

After reading the Sneed story, "Café de Flore,"in the current issue of The Southern Review, I checked my bookshelves to see if I had anything else by Sneed. I have a copy of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry which includes "Quality of Life" and also realized the story is in the 2008 edition of Best American Short Stories and was first published in The New England Review.

Christine Sneed, "Café de Flore"

The story is told in a close third-person point of view, past tense, and takes place in Paris. Will and his girlfriend, Jorie, have just moved into a new apartment and are expecting a visit from Will's famous movie-director and actor father after a year and a half of not speaking. Apparently, they'd both had the same girlfriends, not to mention, the jealousy Will felt for his very famous father on the receiving end of praise and adoration.

In this paragraph, the author shows how Renn was an empty shell of a father, only consisted of odors and directives. "Renn hugged Will on his way out, his cologne the same one he'd been wearing for years--a scent blended for him specially by a parfumerie in Provence, its top notes sandalwood and cinnamon. The perfume was his father, in the same way that during his long, oppressive absences in Will's childhood, a pair of his left-behind shoes or a scrap of paper with a note he'd scrawled that contained some request or directive embodied him."

The author, Christine Sneed, is particularly successful in portraying complex emotional baggage and family dynamics and how jealousy and insecurity affects judgments, and relationships. "Café de Flore" is in the current issue of The Southern Review.