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2010 Stories 53-54 and Essays 22 - 23

Working my way through the anthologies:

STORIES,  from The Best American Short Stories 2009:

53. NowTrends by Karl Taro Greenfield.  The title of the story refers to the name of the Chinese magazine that the main character writes for.  The narrator's voice is somewhat formal and diffident -- something I expect from a story featuring Asian characters written decades ago, or set decades ago, but this is a contemporary story and I find myself wondering why even contemporary Asian stories seem to fall into this stereotyped way of narration.  Surely there must be some Asians that do not speak or think in clipped formal phrasings.  The story itself moves well, two unconnected plots coming together in a short space to say something about doing business and managing friendships. There are some interesting turns of phrase.  China, in the months before the Olympics, comes across as incredibly dystopian.

54. The Farms by Eleanor Henderson  I'm wondering if this is a trend that will continue through the volume: story titles that are barely even peripherally connected to the story (the title of the previous story was peripheral as well).  I'm assuming Henderson decided to name the story after an AIDS-stricken community that is only mentioned in the story once because she's setting it up as a metaphor for the fact that no matter where we go, we find ourselves living in some kind of ghetto.  If that was the point, it fell flat and felt unnecessary, because the rest of the story makes a more important point: loss of a loved one puts a bubble around us, and people who knew us before that loved one was lost treat us differently.  The narrator's father refers to "pity money" at one point, but you can tell he's really talking about pity overall.  The main character also comes to experience the prejudice that comes with a sibling's early death from AIDS.

ESSAYS, from The Best American Essays 2009:

22. Faustian Economics by Wendell Berry.  Berry draws comparisons between Faust and Lucifer and modern Americans who subscribe to the theory that humans are higher animals and therefore our vistas are limitless, when it is obvious the resources at our disposal are not.  I thought the metaphor was stretched a bit, and clouded Berry's point.

23. The Greatest Nature Essay Ever
by Brian Doyle is quite simply incredible.  It's short, barely two pages, and just drives home so perfectly the way nature essays are written and why often they are so moving ... even while not really being a nature essay at all, but an essay on writing nature essays.  If I could copy it here, I would ... but quoting only parts of it would lose the effectiveness completely.  I really really liked this one.


A Story A Day Keeps Boredom Away

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