Category Archives: literary

Re: Happy Accident

One of the writers I like but haven’t read nearly enough of is an Israeli writer named Etgar Karet. There was a very good reading of one of his stories at end of the latest episode of This American Life, called “Happy Accident“.

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Re: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

I liked the look of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen from the moment I first saw it. The book itself is a beautiful production. There’s illustrations on most pages, as well as end-papers and covers, wonderful ink drawings filled with commentary and wit. Even better, nearly every page has further excursions into side-notes or footnotes wandering around the discursive narrative. I even liked the story.
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Re: Emergency

Even after listening to the reading of “Emergency,” by Denis Johnson a couple times, I’m not sure what I think of it.

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Re: Christmas, 1914

Christmas is creeping up on us, like Robot Santa with a knife between his teeth, his sack full of holiday stories to read. When it comes to the whole gift-giving business, I’d say  “Christmas, 1914″ pretty much sums up how I feel. It’s all about the kids.

Re: Coyote v. Acme

It’s scary enough to hear something I like on the New Yorker fiction podcast, and even scarier when I remember reading it in the original issue. The original copy is probably still somewhere stuffed in a box somewhere around here. But it’s easier to just click on the link and listen to Jonathan Franzen read Ian Frazier’s “Coyote v. Acme”.

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Re: The Lottery

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the New Yorker Fiction podcast would cover “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson. I really didn’t know what to make of this story when I first read it in high school.

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Re: The Girl in the Glass

Like The Night Whiskey, The Girl in the Glass, by Jeffrey Ford has plenty of darkness, but it’s a far more pleasant ride along some of the stranger undercurrents of the Great Depression. Our hero is Diego, a clever and resourceful Mexican immigrant who masquerades as the mysterious Hindu swami Ondoo. His adoptive father and mentor, Schell, rescued him as a boy and protects him from being repatriated. Together with their strong man, Antony Cleopatra, they make a living holding seances for the wealthy denizens of the North Shore of Long Island. Then Schell sees the image of a girl in a glass door pane.

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Re: Crazy Glue

Like “The Spray,” one magical object says something about fickleness and love in “Crazy Glue” by Etgar Keret. The story is so short, this animation of it might take longer to watch than just reading it. But a lot happens between the lines, as in this early exchange, when the narrator argues with his wife about the worth of the Krazy Glue® she just bought.

‘Nothing around here needs gluing,’ I said. ‘I wish I understood why you buy all this stuff.’
‘For the same reason I married you,’ she murmured. ‘To help pass the time.’
I didn’t want to fight, so I kept quiet, and so did she.

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Re: I Bought A Little City

Another delightful story from the New Yorker Fiction podcast is “I Bought A Little City,” by Donald Barthelme. Donald Antrim has just the right accent for a story about a man who buys Galveston, Texas.  As the narrator strolls about, enjoying his new purchase, he thinks,

What a nice little city! It suits me fine.
It suited me fine, so I started to change it, but softly, softly.

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Re: Lunar Park

One of the books that helped me establish my 150 page rule was Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis. And that despite an enjoyable first chapter / preface. In a oh-look-metafiction way, the opening purports to recount, in first person, Bret’s carreer up to the great splash of American Psycho . Now, I don’t know (or care to know) enough about this to play the “spot-the-fabrication” game, but it tells an entertaining story anyway. Then they move to the burbs.

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