…what started last month as a little toe-dip into the short story pool ended up being a full-fledged dive off the high dive into the deep end and by the time I came up for air and swam to the side, I realized I didn’t want to get out of the water.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Last Night”, but what I really got hooked on was the New Yorker Fiction podcast…and then the Selected Shorts podcast. I love listening to the stories. Last week I realized I was quickly working through the entire backlist of those podcasts and I couldn’t even remember everything I’d heard. But stories by Amy Hempel (“Jesus is Waiting”, “Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep” and “In the Cemetary Where Al Jolson Is Buried”), Miranda July (“Roy Spivey”), Dorothy Parker (“Here We Are”, “Just a Little One” and “The Waltz”) and Flannery O’Connor (“Everything that Rises Must Converge”) have stayed with me. I do still have a few episodes to listen to, but I decided it was time to start reading.
I combed my bookshelves and found these four collections. Happy coincidence that three of them are already favorites. The Dorothy Parker was my mom’s copy.
And I’m not sure if the Faulkner belonged to my mom or to my dad. The highlighting makes me think it wasn’t my mom, but I’m sure she’ll let me know!
I “inherited” the Miranda July from Katie when she moved out after college. Amy Hempel’s is the only one I bought and I remember the day I bought it in January 2007. Katie was visiting for a birthday lunch and we made a quick pre-meal stop at Barnes & Noble to look for books. I’d recently heard a story that captured my heart; it’s that last line and it’s still with me:
Then you take a deep breath, and slide your head under, and listen for the playfulness of your heart.
I’ve enjoyed it in little bits and pieces since then, especially when Katie moved to NYC four summers ago and I read aloud many of the stories as we drove through West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Although I have to admit – the professionals who read the stories I mentioned do a much better job!
Ann Kingman is reading a story a day this year. I’m not sure I’m up for that much of a commitment! But I am hoping to read 100, which works out to 3-4 a week and will get me through all four of these books. If I add in the ones I listen to, I suppose I could get to 194?! (which is one a day for the rest of 2013). To help my terrible memory, I’m also going to keep a journal and I’ll share the highlights here.
And all this has me curious – do you enjoy short stories? which ones are your favorites? and do you keep a journal to help you remember them?