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2010 Stories 245 - 248

Definitely time to try to catch up. I brought the Summer 2009 issue of Glimmer Train Stories with me on the last trip (meant to bring the most recent issue, but grabbed the wrong one off the wrong stack). The following are all from that issue:


245. Save by Carmiel Banasky  Save attempts a strong colloquial voice (somewhat Southern, perhaps Delta-ish?) that just didn't quite work for me. I had a hard time entering the story. I can usually follow stories that bounce between past and present with no warning, but I had a hard time keeping the sequence of events here straight. I'm not sure why. The author has a story to tell that should be interesting, about a family, and a family business, coming apart at the seams.  It just didn't work for me personally.

246. Korean Wedding by Hubert Ahn When a short story can make two different points, and make them both equally well, that should be lauded. This story manages to be about unrequited love and about the way close groups of friends drift apart once the situation in which they bonded no longer exists.  The main character is attending a wedding of an old college friend, along with the rest of his crowd of Korean college (and possibly high school) friends. He is the only one who has not made some kind of career for himself since graduation. He holds it against himself, just as he holds not winning the girl against himself.  Present and past do a dance here, as in the preceding story, but the dance flows better in Ahn's story.  There's a great line in this story that sort of describes me: "My personality is dynamite around girls I'm not attracted to; put me in a room full of ugly women, and I turn into Oscar Wilde."

247. Melting at Both Ends by Cynthia Gregory  The story takes place over the course of one long phone call between the narrator and her friend. Each of them has different ways of coping with life changes. The narrator lights candles and prayers to various gods; the friend goes on retreat to a health spa. Neither one seems to be finding their way to happiness, and I think that's sort of the story's point: as long as we look to someone/thing to fix our unhappiness, we're going to be disappointed. Or we're going to become sycophantic, but I don't see either of these characters heading in that direction.  There's a smooth fluid feel to the story, although it's another one that dances between past and present ... and in fact between two different characters' pasts. Seems to be a theme of this issue.

248. Pronouncing the Apostrophe by Johnny Townsend The "dancing between past and present" theme seems to take a break in this story. There are still, of course, references to things in the character's past, but no actual flashbacks. Most of the past is delineated in dialogue or in the lines surrounding dialogue.  I have to say, with all apologies to Mr. Townsend, while I liked the idea of the story I so thoroughly disliked the main character that I almost stopped reading it.  It's a tribute to the author's style that I didn't give up on it, though. The main character is obsessive-compulsive to a fault, but doesn't see that perhaps that is why his relationships (romantic and otherwise) don't seem to pan out. He reminded me a bit too much of a friend of mine, which made the story a little tough to read.

The rest of the issue will be reviewed over the weekend ....

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