Short Stories All the Time

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

11 October, 2014

Jess Walter, "To the Corner"

Leonard, an old man who has refused to move from the neighborhood where he and his wife, Marjorie, raised five children. Marjorie has died and Leonard fixates on the young boys who hang out on the corner. The strongest element of this story are the voices. The boys are captured very well with their vernacular while Leonard's concerns and those of his son, Michael, are in a different voice. The author has a great ear for the young boys especially. The scene of Leonard sharing his old man belts and shirts with the boys is spectacular and Timothy helping hang Leonard's clothes is quite touching.

"To the Corner" was published in Harper's Magazine in the July 2014 issue.

19 May, 2013

Jess Walter, "Anything Helps"

"Anything Helps" is told in a very close third-person POV. It is about a man who has lost his son to foster parents. Bit, Wayne Bittinger, is an alcoholic and/or drug abuser whose wife, Julie, has died of a drug overdose which may have been an intentional suicide. Bit's homeless and when we dive into his story he has just been kicked out of the "Jesus beds" because he broke the rules and he's gone back to his old corner to panhandle. He manages to gather money to buy a new Harry Potter book for his son, Nate, even though it is against the rules at the Molson (also the name of a brewer) foster home.

The theme, for me, seems to be "you think you're through with some things" in the way that all through life, we think we've mastered something or learned how to deal with something or have gotten over something until it rears its ugly head and sometimes we are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Bit encounters that when he wants to re-give a forbidden book to his son for his birthday. Bit acknowledges to Mrs. Molson that he knows the rule that he cannot just show up to see his son but he does it anyway. Bit has never learned how to suffer through the consequences of his actions. His stubbornness does not serve him well.

I like the story and the POV works well in the way that the reader is really close to the mindset of the main character. Yet, we do not have to deal with an unreliable first-person.

"Anything Helps" was first published in McSweeney's and then in the Best American Short Stories, 2012.

"Spokane's a donut city, downtown a hole, civilians all in the suburbs."

"You think you're through with some things. But you aren't."

Jess Walter web page