Selected short-story reading (vol. 3)

I’m well into the first term of the final year of my Post-Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of York (not to be confused with York University in Toronto!) and this term’s focus is poetry. The last four weeks have confirmed that I enjoy reading poetry far more than writing it.

And, whether reading or writing, I prefer prose to verse.

To that end, here are three more short stories I recommend.

Lost in the Light” by Tara Kramer

In short
The sense of place in this 2,000-ish word story is enormous. Kramer makes something potentially unrelatable to most of us (e.g. life at the poles) feel very near.

My take
The variation in sentence/paragraph structure and the close personal voice are engrossing. I loved it and it brought to mind my own arctic adventure in 2013.

Lipless‘ by Olivia Costa

In short
So short ! (under 150 words) So resonant! The subject matter may be hard to stomach, but the language is evocative—and forms a gorgeous counterpoint to the harshness of the narrative.

My take
Powerful. The use of past tense makes it seem as though Geraldine is reminiscing—rendering her actions both more gruesome and more understandable. Highly recommended, if you don’t mind a bit of gore.

How to Talk to Your Mother‘ by Lorrie Moore

In short
The conceit of working backwards in time (potentially from the death of the narrator’s mother) is fascinating. In just under 3,000 words, Moore constructs a rich, complicated protagonist whose life we watch unspool backwards.

I read it top to bottom, then bottom to top… and then from the start again (it’s written in reverse chronological order). Each time something more jumped out. Each time was sadder and more tender. Each time the depth of her relationship with her mother became grander. 

My take
Highly recommended. The structure and vocabulary make for easy enough reading, but the content and characterisation bring and wonderfully challenging complexity.

And a bonus poetry recommendation

Diving into the Wreck‘ by Adrienne Rich

This wrecked me. And made me wonder how I’d missed Rich’s oeuvre before.

Other selected short stories

Image adapted from a photo posted by NOAA on Unsplash.

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