Thoughts for Thursday - General mayhem

First of all: I'm so very excited about the great and varied response to the Short Story Short Challenge and my post on 10 favorite short stories! Will definitely be exploring this topic periodically. I hope everyone is inspired to read at least one or two new authors or, if you're not a short story aficionado, to try one. (I dare you to read one on my list and not be blown away.)

Second: Can't let David Halberstam's death go by without comment. In my undergrad years, as a journalism student, I read his "The Best and the Brightest" (the Kennedy Administration and VietNam War) and "The Powers that Be" (on the American media). He was of the old school: exhaustive research, in-depth analysis, and above all, accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.

He died by being broad-sided.

Third: About 100 pages in to Proust vol. 2. God, I just love Proust! You really have to give yourself up to him. I don't try to "understand everything;" a reader simply can't. There is too much. You just read and enjoy the process of reading and then, suddenly, when you are not quite aware, the prose clicks. I imagine it's how a child learns how to speak. I feel I am such a better reader for having read Proust, and I'm sure I will feel that way about my writing.

Four: Joined up with the Tilting at Windmills group! Going to start Don Quixote in the midst of reading Proust. What a masochist. But, this is a group and an objective too stellar to miss out on. I imagine I will cower on the sidelines, shocked and awed by everyone else's insights and progress. Sort of like the bunny-slope skier straggling behind a group of Olympians. But, that's how one learns. Thanks, Dorothy W., for organizing. Good call!


Short Story Short Challenge - Reading List

Great response on the Short Story Short Challenge! As promised, I compiled a list of all the recommended short stories. Lots of new names and titles to explore.


Please e-mail me your reactions to the short story you committed to reading: writerlylife at yahoo dot com. And stay tuned for an upcoming Horror Story Short Challenge in October.

Short Story Short Challenge List
The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
Call My Name, Aimee Bender
Civilwarland in Bad Decline, George Saunders
Dirty Wedding, Denis Johnson
Disentangling, Peter Rock
Floating Bridge, Alice Munro
The Hotel Capital, Olga Tokarczuk
Planetisimal, Keri Hulme
The Toughest Indian in the World, Sherman Alexie
White Angel, Michael Cunningham
Hunger, Lan Samantha Chang
Rock Springs, Richard Ford
Miss Gentibelle, Charles Beaumont
It's a GOOD Life, Jerome Bixby
Roses, Rhododendron, Alice Adams
A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote
Sonny's Blues, James Baldwin
Love, William Maxwell
Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, Delmore Schwartz
Love Day, William Styron
The Shawl, Cynthia Ozick
Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville
On Seeing England for the First Time, Jamaica Kincaid
Death of a Pig, E.B. White
The Long Loneliness, Loren Eisley
Chatwin Revisited, Paul Theroux
Good Country People, Flannery O’Connor
White Angel, Michael Cunningham
Fiesta 1980, Junot Diaz
In the Gloaming, Alice Elliott Dark
Hunger, Lan Samantha Chang
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Alice Munro
Floating Bridge, Alice Munro
Bullet in the Brain, Tobias Wolff
He’s At the Office, Allan Gurganus
Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx
Penance, Matthew Crain
A Temporary Matter, Jhumpa Lahiri
Dance in America, Lorrie Moore
Pie Dance, Molly Giles
Home Sweet Home, Hannah Tinti
Mirrors, Carol Shield
My Grandmother’s Tale of How Crab-o Lost His Head, Robert Antoni
Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle, Ellen Gilchrist
Leaf Season, John Updike
The Birds for Christmas, Mark Richard
The Man to Send Rain Clouds, Leslie Marmon Silko
The Horse Dealer's Daughter, D.H. Lawrence
Blue Tigers, Jorge Luis Borges
The Way We Live Now, Susan Sontag
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, Joyce Carol Oates
Babylon Revisited, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Winter Dreams, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Love is Not a Pie, Amy Bloom
Silver Water, Amy Bloom
Meiosis, Italo Calvino
The Johnson Girls, Toni Cade Bambara
The Marquise von O., Heinrich von Kleist
For Esme with Love and Squalor, JD Salinger
Making Love While the Kettle Boils, Kate Sutherland
La plage (The beach), Alain Robbe-Grillet
Cousin Lewis, Jean Stubbs
The Book Club, Ali Smith
The Schartz-Metterklume Method, Saki
The Overcoat, Nikolai Gogol

Also, please support your fellow blogger and writer, Kate Sutherland, by preordering her new collection of short stories, All in Together Girls. Personally, I can't wait to read them!
As for me, I commit to reading the Italo Calvino story (sure it will be way over my head, but I've never read this author's works) and the Jean Stubbs piece (had to get the collection, don't you know). And that's just for starters...


Short Story Short Challenge!

I just had a scathingly brilliant idea.

The Short Story Short Challenge!

Here's how it works: See my post below on Ten Favorite Short Stories.

1. Pick one story from the list you haven't read, that you vow to read.

2. List in the comment to this post which story you selected, PLUS a favorite story of yours that you want others to read.

I will compile a new list from all of the comments, and I will make my own selection of new short stories to read.

Ten favorite short stories

I've been wanting to make this list for a while. It is tough to put together. How do you not include Chekhov, Munro or Fitzgerald? Which story do you include from the works of Hemingway or O'Connor?

I have so many more short stories to read from the hundreds of truly excellent stories out there. And lots of great stories and authors didn't make this cut!

Why did these chosen few make the list? First of all, these were ones that I recalled even without a reference guide -- I remembered them because they literally stuck with me. Each one hit me in the gut, not only on the first reading but on multiple readings. They made me think, feel, ponder, wonder.

1. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor

2. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

3. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy

4. The Dead, James Joyce

5. Cathedral, Raymond Carver

6. Barn Burning, William Faulkner

7. Greenleaf, Flannery O'Connor

8. The Babysitter, Robert Coover

9. Sea Oak, George Saunders

10. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, Ernest Hemingway

Want to learn about more short story titles? The Danforth Review asked various authors and teachers for a list of stories the would teach in an introductory course. Please list your favorite short stories in the comments, or I "tag" you to post your own top 10 on your personal blog.