Short Stories All the Time

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

11 August, 2015

Robert Stone, "Fun With Problems"

Peter, "aging attorney" and recovering alcoholic, has a new case and meets a somewhat younger therapist who is also at the prison talking to her prisoner. Peter and Amy he go out for drinks--he tells her she can just have an apple juice mixed with soda, Apfel-schorle--but he encourages her to have some alcohol and later realizes that she's a recovering alcoholic. He admonishes himself a bit later that he should have known but he doesn't feel too bad about it. The entire story has a bleakness in mood, voice, and subject matter. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I like the bleakness, or maybe the skill Robert Stone has in achieving it. The story is written in a third-person limited point of view and in simple past tense.

The therapist's hobby is acting and plays the part of Imogen in the play Cymbeline. Imogen is a virtuous woman, daughter of King Cymbeline. However, Amy, no Imogen, ends up with another loser, "sadistic creep." Peter attends the play and notices that Amy seems
to forget some of her lines.

"His ambitions had faded, and life could be various and perversely satisfying in Hampton."

"The recently arrived professionals, academics and technologists, had brought to Hampton a self-conscious blessed assurance, unaware of the beatings, arson and murder that thrived in the hills around their white-trim shutters."

"He could hardly say; his perspective was that of a criminal lawyer who knew the annals of wickedness."

"These were relics of the age of concern, grown decadent with underfunding, long on ideology and short on practical solutions."

"Matthews's life had become so solitary he had almost stopped caring what he said, or to whom."

"Her state of agitated regret seemed to visibly depart."

"He was the man whose ex-wife had once said of him, 'You don't care whether you even get laid, as long as you can make some woman unhappy.'" 

09 August, 2015

Robert Stone, "Honeymoon"

A four-page story included in Stone's collection, Fun With Problems, is "Honeymoon." Scotty commits suicide while he is on his honeymoon with the younger woman he had an affair with. While his new wife is out at the pool, he calls his ex-wife and begs to get back with her. "I'm lonely to the bottom go my soul. I can't cope."

"Honeymoon" was first published in Playboy in January 1999.

Favorite Lines: "The weight of the air took him down the darkening wall."

"'I'll come home,' he said. But she had put the receiver down."

04 July, 2011

Sarah Stone, "Self-Awareness and Self-Deception: Beyond the Unreliable Narrator"

Sarah Stone wrote an interesting essay for the Summer 2011 issue of The Writer's Chronicle about, obviously, the unreliable narrator but also about our self-deceptions and hyper-awareness and the nuances in between. Stone quotes Grace Paley: "Now, one of the reasons writers are so much more interested in life than others who just go on living all the time is that what the writer doesn't understand the first thing about is just what he acts like such a specialist about--and that is life. And the reason he writes is to explain it all to himself, and the less he understands to begin with, the more he probably writes..." That seems so true to me. And, makes me laugh.

Stone also says, "Fiction, though, is all about putting characters under duress until they show what they're made of, until they collide in some way with reality."

"It takes time to get at the complex truth of a character."

"This can also be the most painful part of publication and reviews: the unexpected revelation of whatever the author hasn't seen or understood about the work or its characters." and "The depths of what writers don't know about their own work is a big part of why criticism is essential..." and "We don't want to face the terrors of the world and our own natures. Therefore, self-delusion."