Sunday, April 17, 2005

Telling Stories

I love the short story. It is my favorite genre, although in terms of marketability, it can be a thankless one. This weblog is named after a short story by a writer, Jerome Wilson, who is younger than me! "Paper Garden" was his first published story. It has since then been featured in several anthologies such as You've Got to Read This which is a collection of stories that American writers selected because they "held them in awe." I figure Jerome Wilson did pretty well for himself--first time out, anthologized, and more than half a decade younger than me!

Incidentally, "Paper Garden" is a fabulous, tragi-comic story. Fabulous is a bad word to use when referencing literature, but "wicked," my first choice, was worse. If I had to pigeonhole it, I'd say that "Paper Garden" has hints of Faulkner, O'Connor, and maybe even Bobbie Ann Mason. It is a story of pathetic glamour in an inappropriate framework, or maybe more accurately, the flip side of what we superficially see as special. I wanted to link it here, but it doesn't exist on the internet. It does exist in Wilson's own collection.

So what are some of your favorite short stories?

This group of favorites are shorts I've loved as long as I can remember: (unfortunately, it appears I didn't read many shorts by women writers when I was young)

Red, by W. Somerset Maugham
The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck
Orientation of Cats, by Julio Cortazar
Hands, by Sherwood Anderson
The Open Window, by Saki
The Rocking Horse Winner, by D.H. Lawrence
The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico
A & P, by John Updike
The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein, by O. Henry

My list of newer favorites includes: (women writers are clearly better represented here)

The Aleph, by Jorge Luis Borges
Notes of a Native Son, by James Baldwin
The Smallest Woman in the World, by Clarice Lispector
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
Cathedral, by Raymond Carver
Salvation, by Langston Hughes
The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Wants, by Grace Paley (as finely tuned as storytelling gets)
In the Cemetery Where Al Joson is Buried, by Amy Hempel
Bartleby the Scrivenor, by Herman Melville
The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien
Two Kinds, by Amy Tan

I've listed these titles on the fly--spontaneously recalled as stories that not only resonate deeply with me, but also inform the choices I try to make when I write. I have this idea that I'll write a review of some of these as one occupation of my blog ... we'll see if that one pans out.


At 9:02 AM, Anonymous margie said...

The color in your garden is fabulous, magnificent! Yellow wallpaper would have been wicked. I don't know if it will turn out to be a pathetic framework, but there appears to not to be any inappropriate glamour in this blogsphere. It's rather more human, I'd say.


At 12:24 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

In case you check in again, thank you Margie ... and some good "tongue-in-cheek" too! :-)

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Pamela, the short story genre is not really my mainstay. I have only read two fiction books in the past two years! Nonfiction is much more my thing. Anyway, in the past, I've liked Mark Twain's short stories, the erotic short fiction of Anais Nin, Poe of course, etc.

You're participating in Wordstock this weekend, right? I hear there are some great free writing workshops taking place.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Emily, I don't know how I let Wordstock slip by me ... found out about it late. Tonight, one of my favorite living novelists, John Irving, will be at the Schitzer Auditorium, and where am I? Nose shoved deep in hypertext theory and Hegel.

Perhaps I'll be able to get to one of their bookfairs this weekend. I, too, enjoy Anais Nin and Poe. "Fall of the House of Usher" is a wonderfully gothic tale! Frankly I think The Cure and Poe go hand in hand.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your site. Thanks! --Jerome Wilson


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