I have shamelessly stolen this from Steph at Bella’s Bookshelves because it’s an awesome idea – having a short story for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner. Whatever fits). It’s a great way to squeeze in a little extra reading and, because they’re short, you can read something complete and whole in one short go (without having that annoying moment of having to put a cliff-hanging chapter to one side to get on with real life).
For me, it’s been a great way to wake up my brain. I have an illness which means I struggle in the mornings and have to rest between getting up, breakfasting and showering/dressing so I don’t get all vomity and bleurgh. It’s pretty boring. There’s only so much day-time TV a person can take. Because my brain is working much slower at that time, I find it hard to get stuck into a novel, so nibbling my way through a short story is pretty much perfect.
Here are the stories I’ve been getting stuck into this week:
“Call my name” and “What you left in the ditch” from The Girl In The Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender. Both stories of connection – the first a lost, rich girl looking for the right kind of connection and the second a woman feeling she’s lost a connection to her husband when he comes back from the war without his lips.
“Stardust nation” from Black Vodka by Deborah Levy. A man who possesses a kind of extreme empathy begins to take on the traumatic memories of his alcoholic boss as his own. Brilliant.
“Sometimes you break their hearts, sometimes they break yours” and “The idea of Marcel” from Safe as Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino. These stories are wonderfully odd. Lovely.
“Interview #4” from New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin. A retelling of Cinderella/the wicked step-mother in which they are the same person. Magic. Can’t wait to read the rest of the collection.
“The child” from The first person and other stories by Ali Smith. A woman comes back to her supermarket trolley to find a baby sitting in it that’s not hers. A right-wing, rude baby. Oh Ali Smith, I do love you.
“Parson’s pleasure” and “Royal jelly” from Collected Short Stories by Roald Dahl. Dahl’s stories for adults are exactly as you would expect from his children’s books – devilish baddies and weirdness. The first is about a manipulative antiques dealer disguised as a clergymen so people will trust him when he tries to con them; the second a man feeding his sickly baby royal jelly to make her a queen. This is a big fat book that’s fun to dip in and out of.
“Motherfucker” from Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender. A man who fucks mothers, an actress with a young son, and a moment of perfect connection. Gorgeous story.
Lots of modern stories, though very different from each other. I seem to have had an accidental ‘connections’ theme running through my story week, but perhaps you could find that in nearly all stories. I think I’m going to try reading some older stories too, to broaden the kinds and styles of things I’m reading. So far, so deliciously full at breakfast time.