Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.

10 April, 2017

Anton Chekhov, "The Party"

The story was written in 1888 and is divided into five parts. It's told mostly from the viewpoint of Olga Mihalovna. She's seven months pregnant. She and her husband, Pyotr Dmitritch are having a large dinner party that lasts well into the night. She observes her husband's fake behavior of smiles, commanding voice, and charming of the young girls. Olga knows it's in service of his work, but she's become sick of dealing with it and when its directed toward her, it is just too much. She works herself into a frenzy and ends up losing the baby. After she's recuperated somewhat and "...nothing mattered to Olga Mihalovna now." Her husband pleads, "Why didn't we take care of our child?"

This story shows how our lives are political and fake and everyone has secrets and some people get carried away and allow their power to exert an inordinate amount of influence.

The version I own was translated by Constance Garnett.

I'm now interested, because of a mention in the story, in Mikhail Saltykov Shchedrin, a satirist, 1826-1889.  Olga's uncle lectures her about her husband. "The husband of his wife, with a few paltry acres and the rank of a titular who has had the luck to marry an heiress! An upstart and a junker, like so many others! A type out of Shtchedrin! Upon my word, it's either that he's suffering from megalomania, or that old rat in his dotage, Count Alexey Petrovitch, is right when he says that children and young people are a long time growing up nowadays, and go on playing they are cabmen and generals till they are forty."

07 April, 2017

Tahmima Anam, "Garments"

The story is told in present tense and from the viewpoint of Jesmin. The story portrays three young female garment workers and the lengths they  go to for sharing a husband and why it's necessary. "Jasmine sees marriage as a remedy. If you are a girl you have many problems, but all of them can be fixed if you have a husband."

The young women work in the garment industry in Bangladesh. There is some reference to the Rana Garment building collapse and an attempt at an inspection. Jasmine, Ruby, and Mala sew what they call "Thanks" which assume means "Spanx." Because they look so good, in the mirror they say to the panties, Thanks." The poverty and crowded conditions are portrayed clearly and without pathos.

Wikipedia page for Tahmima Anam
"Garments" was first published in Freeman's and then included in the Best American Short Stories, 2016. 

link to The Asian Writer essay about Tahmima Anam

26 March, 2017

Jung Young Moon, "Mrs. Brown"

The story was told to the narrator and he is retelling it. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are held at gunpoint in their home by a young, nervous boy who is joined by his equally naive girlfriend. It's an interesting and somewhat bewildering encounter but also poignant and sad. The themes, for me, are what can happen if a person doesn't know what she wants or doesn't follow through. Yet, also the freedom and relief that might come from following one's dreams. Mrs. Brown finally does take the flying lessons she'd always wanted. She's Korean and her husband is a typical white American of mixed ancestry. She's kept her own name because she doesn't like the name Brown. However, we never learn her name. She's forsaken a lot of her own dreams yet she's pretty happy and open minded. She thinks about this during the so-called robbery.

"Mrs. Brown" is the first story in the collection titled A Most Ambiguous Sunday, and Other Stories  published by Dalkey Press. I bought my copy at Deep Vellum in Dallas.

Jung Young Moon's Wikipedia page