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2009 Stories 64 - 67

A handful of tales from The New Yorker:

64. Pumpkin Head by Joyce Carol Oates, from the January 12, 2009 New Yorker.  As is somewhat typical of Joyce Carol Oates, this story so did not go where I thought it was going ... or perhaps it did, just not in the way I thought it would.  It is a Halloween tale mostly in that it takes place around Halloween and has a wonderful sort of psychological tension to it.  I thought it was one thing at the beginning, and it was a similar but different sort of thing by the end.  Definitely liked it.

65. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin, from the December 1, 2008 New Yorker.  I enjoy the detail and sort of homey narration of Mueenuddin's stories.  I think this is the third I've read by him in the New Yorker (the very first, "Nawabdin Electrician," was featured in this year's "Best American Short Stories," so I've read it twice) and there is definitely an interconnectedness to his stories.  This one is again about the interplay between the new middle class of Lahore and the old guard upper class, through the eyes mainly of a middle-class girl whose family used to be rich.  There's a strong sense of longing that permeates the story.

66. Julia and Byron by Craig Raine from the March 20, 2009 New Yorker.  I liked the beginning of this, a story about a woman's battle with cancer and the doctor who (although it is not explicitly stated) seems to be using her as a guinea pig for his greater glory.  The Byron in the title is her husband, who is mostly absent from the action, except for the very end which felt tacked on and unnecessary.

67. Visitation by Brad Watson from the April 6, 2009 New Yorker.  Perhaps it was the mood I was in while reading this, but the story left a bad taste.  It's about a divorced father whose weekend visitations with his son all take place in a motel that has seen better days, and from which the father's own lack of motivation prevents them from moving.  There's also a family of rough, crude, obviously stereotypical redneck characters as counterpoint to the middle-class but unmotivated (perhaps "deer caught in his own headlights" might be a better phrase) father.  The author tries to redeem these "gypsies" at the end, but for me it was too late.  The only character I felt at all for in this one was the son, and even that was mostly because I had nothing positive at all to think of the rest of the characters.  I suppose I should reread the story when I'm in a better mood to see if my opinion changes, but I probably won't anytime in the near future.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 9th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
65 sounds worthy of checking out.
Apr. 9th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
Re: hi
I am really now taken with his writing. I have to see if there's an anthology.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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