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Stories 195 - 201

The rest of the random New Yorker stories I brought with me on the trip, IF the internet connection will let me get the entire post typed ...

Story 195: Face by Alice Munro from the September 8, 2008 New Yorker.  It's an interesting story about self-perception, about the devotion of a friend, and about how both can be distorted.  I thought it was a little slow in parts, but still packed a bit of a punch.  It almost in some odd respect seemed a bit Wildean, but not in any of the really snarky witty ways that one would normally think of with that term.

Story 196: A Beneficiary by Nadine Gordimer from the May 21, 2007 New Yorker (wow, that one's been in the folder a while, eh?)  What do the material things we leave behind when we die say about who we were when we were alive?  And what effect do those things have on the loved ones we leave behind?  That's really the crux of this story, about a young woman mourning her mother, taking a lover, and trying to understand her long-divorced father.  Gordimer really gets to the heart of it, although like Munro above, she does sort of take the long way around.  In this case though, the long way didn't feel slow but rather natural.

Story 197: The Cold Outside by John Burnside from the October 29, 2007 New Yorker (yep, another long folder-dweller).  This one hit me on a couple of levels.  The main character has had cancer in the past, and we learn right at the outset of the story that it has returned (so I'm not ruining anything there).  This is one of several stories I've read recently that deals with the things that pull two people apart without even realizing it, although that is not the focus of the story.  Much of the story takes place on a lonely but contemplative stretch of road in a snowstorm, and was quite moody in a good way.  Got me thinking, though, about what my father was thinking when he didn't tell us about his own cancer, even when we visited a week before he died.  Perhaps, just perhaps, this story helped me understand him a little bit better.

Story 198: Something Like Happy by John Burnside, from the April 23, 2007 New Yorker (see a trend with this post?).  I've read a handful of Burnside stories this year, and I'm really thinking I need to find a collection of his stories because I've liked pretty much everything I've read.  This one is about siblings.  Rivalry, mostly, but to say it's just about that does it a bit of dis-service.  Well-paced, strong characters.

Story 199: Faith by William Trevor from the June 4, 2007 New Yorker.  Another story from the United Kingdom about siblings.  No rivalry here, just the old "do it out of family loyalty" sort of thing, although neither character ever really says that to the other.  It's a shorter piece than the ones above, but covers a longer timespan in the characters lives, and you can sort of see the years pile up on them.

Story 200: The Dog by Roddy Doyle from the November 5, 2007 New Yorker.  Another relationship gone sour, this one delineated in terse sentences and tight dialogue.  The dog isn't really the problem, nor is it the cause of the problem, although it is a symptom.  Some people shouldn't have pets or kids ...

Story 201: East Wind by Julian Barnes from  the May 19, 2008 New Yorker.  Another terse piece, almost a short-short.  It's about metaphors, it's about language barriers, it's about thinking you know what you want in a relationship and then discovering that you want something completely different but still with the same person.  I'd not read any Barnes before and his name seems to be all over the place lately.

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