Friday, August 13, 2010

Short Fiction Friday

This week's short fiction suggestions are wildly different -- no theme jumped out at me!

From The New Yorker is Karen Russell's "The Dredgeman's Revelation". I tend not to be a fan of the kind of stories featured in The New Yorker but Karen Russell was one of the handful of women on their 20 Under 40 series and I had decided to read all the women at least. This story was a winner for me. I've a little crush on Louis Thanksgiving Auschenbliss.

One of the Children’s Aid nuns came in to retrieve the newborn orphan, and Louis lost his true past in a few squeaks of her nun shoes on the linoleum. Carrying him away, leaving that widening blank of a woman behind him, this wimpled stranger wound the clock of Louis’s life. The nun (who sometimes dreamed she was a man in advertising, writing copy for Hollywood movies) tucked a paper with a short description of his delivery into his blanket, thinking that this might help him to be adopted by a Christian family: MISLABELLED STILLBORN MIRACLE BABY ALIVE PRAISE GOD FOR LOUIS, THANKSGIVING!

Somewhere down the line, the nun’s purple comma got smudged and then Louis had a surname.

From A Twist of Noir comes yet another deliciously dark piece of noir, Copper Smith's "We Can't Dance Together". Almost all the stories posted are winners, I think, but then there are standouts like this one.

We’ve got nothing in common. She’s young enough to be my daughter. The names that mean everything to me – Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Otis Redding – are, to her, ancient history, ghosts of hit parades past. And I call her Nineteen because I don’t even know her name.

Apart from that she’s perfect. Because she calls me every night at exactly three minutes to midnight – about an hour into my late night shift at WSOL – and we swap secrets in the dark like lonely co-conspirators.

And while not short fiction, I have to give a shout out to Poetry Foundation's special Ramadan section, Poems of Muslim Faith and Islamic Culture. There are more than just poems there, too: blog posts, podcasts, and short essays.

From "Different Ways to Pray" by Naomi Shihab Nye:

While for certain cousins and grandmothers
the pilgrimage occurred daily,
lugging water from the spring
or balancing the baskets of grapes.
These were the ones present at births,
humming quietly to perspiring mothers.
The ones stitching intricate needlework into children’s dresses,
forgetting how easily children soil clothes.

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