Showing posts from April, 2013

The Dig (Six Shorts, 4/6)

“The Dig” is the fourth story in the anthology of short pieces of fiction called Six Shorts . For me, it was an utterly otherworldly story. That is often something good to say about a story. Lovecraft’s fiction, for instance, tends to have an otherworldly quality that is enthralling. But here I don’t mean it in a flattering way. “The Dig,” written by Cynan Jones, struck me as a story about a world both bleak and boring, in which a story tries to shoot out from the ground but it is caught and shriveled by a thick layer of permafrost. So I got carried away with the metaphor. But the eponymous dig does take place in a rugged and gelid setting. A father and his son are helping a man—slovenly, stout—dig out a badger. They are in command of a pack of terriers that are skillful in chasing and cornering badgers in the maze of tunnels they build. So they dig. So they find. So they kill. So they bring back. You can read it for yourself, courtesy of Granta, here . It

Evie (Six Shorts, 3/6)

This is now the third short story in the Six Shorts anthology, which I started to talk about a couple of days ago . It’s called “Evie,” and it was written by Sarah Hall. It’s probably the most thought-provoking of all the stories in the anthology. We are led along in a way that is both luscious and cunning. The story begins when Evie, who is married to a man called Alex, arrives home and starts eating a large chocolate bar. This puzzles Alex, since Evie is not fond of sweets, but what the hell. This continues during the next few days, and Evie starts adding a whole lot of alcohol to her routine. Then comes the sex. Evie develops a sexual appetite that she has never had before. She looks at Alex with an “unboundaried gesture.” (Great description.) She watches porn. She entices Alex into a wide array of postures and desires. Reluctant at first, Alex plays along. She even asks him to invite their friend Richard to their house for a threesome. This makes Alex cri

The Gun (Six Shorts, 2/6)

The second story in the Six Shorts collection I discussed last time is a story about a young kid called Daniel who goes through a life-changing event while playing with a gun with the kids next door. These are the same kids that his mother constantly warns him about. The story is called, fittingly, “The Gun,” and its author is Mark Haddon. I cannot say too much about the plot without ruining the story, but the story does capture quite well the hectic randomness of childhood… and the poor choices we often make along the way. The sentences were artisanally forged to convey descriptions that are precise and lush—even to the point of slowing down the narrative. Here is a good example of a description: “running across the second carriageway to the gritty lay-by with its moraine of shattered furniture and black rubbish bags ripped open by rats and foxes”. The lay-by is gritty. The rubble and trash form a moraine. And there isn’t just rubble or trash, but shattered furnit

Miss Lora (Six Shorts, 1/6)

The main character of the story is a young man whose family immigrated to the United States. The language of the story is English, but it is peppered with nuggets of Spanish, many of them coarse, most of them regional, some of them blundered (e.g., “Se metío por mis ojos,” instead of “Se metió por mis ojos”). There is plenty of sex. An older brother casts a long shadow over the narrative. Take a wild guess who the author of the story is. It’s Junot Díaz, of course. The short story is “Miss Lora,” which you can read online on the New Yorker website ( here ). It’s the first of six stories selected as finalists for the 2013 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. The collection of six stories is sold as an ebook on Amazon ( here ). It’s a good snapshot of contemporary short fiction. The story, told in the second person, describes how the main character became romantically involved with an older woman, a neighbor called Miss Lora. “Romantically involved”