21.Mar.2010 Short Saturday: Gaiman, Jackson, and Gilman

In Short Saturday I will journal my journey to find 5-star quality short stories, whose virtual trophy right now is held by Truman Capote and Haruki Murakami. Unlike my book reviews, I will talk more about my thoughts and what I learn, why I choose the story and how I come upon it. Unlike books, I’m willing to take more risk for shorts, because they are.. well.. short, so I won’t waste too much time if I don’t like them. Expect to see a lot of trash and hopefully, some gems. As it is now, I am not a fan of short stories. Dare I say, yet? But hey, like people say, it’s all about the journey, not destination.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I haven’t posted Short Saturday for a few weeks, what with the holiday and catching up. Lucky me, Michelle has been continuing and it encouraged me to continue too. We’ve been posting about short stories on Saturday for a couple of months now (not always continuously) and it’s great to have a bloggy friend to do it together!

Talking about bloggy friends, I have been recommended many short stories since my first Short Saturday was up and it’s been so much fun to try so many stories that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. For this week, I was intrigued by Claire‘s favorite short stories that are listed on her sidebar and I picked three to read.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman confused me. One day he wrote The Graveyard Book and Coraline, another day The Sandman. Is he a YA writer or a twisted adult writer? Maybe both and he can change skin anytime he likes. Now Snow, Glass, Apples is more in the vein of The Sandman rather than his YA books, and I… LOVED it! (Though 10 paragraphs in there’s a blood sucking scene and I groaned “Not another blood sucker!” because I’m not a fan of anything vampiric.)

As you can probably guess from the title, the story is a retelling of Snow White. Twisted fairytale retelling is really my thing so I just fell for it. It’s a little bit disturbing at times, but really, after reading The Sandman, nothing can surprise me out of Neil Gaiman. Do not expect the story to be anywhere near kiddy or fluffy!

Did I just find my third 5-star short story? I did!

Read the story online

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I first heard of The Lottery when tanabata made a brief comparison of it to Battle Royale. As the latter is one of my favorite books, she piqued my interest straight away. When I saw the short story made appearance on Claire’s list, I just knew I had to read it.

The Lottery started with the whole village gathering at the square for a yearly lottery that has become a custom since a long time ago, nobody knows since when. We don’t know what the lottery is about, so the build-up to it is just amazing, the anticipation gripped me like few else. Of course, I wouldn’t tell you what it is, but the ending shocked me. I just didn’t see it coming. I got chills down my spine and goosebumps for minutes. Felt a little angry even. “I don’t get it”, repeated myself in my head.

The Lottery was first published in 1948 issue of The New Yorker. To the surprise of Jackson and the magazine, they got a high number of negative responses and angry mails from the readers. I must say I kinda understand why. The ending was morbid. However, I’m impressed with Shirley Jackson’s skill to bring such strong reaction from people. Her novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been on my radar for a while and I would love to read it some time soon.

4.5 stars

Read the story online

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first heard of Charlotte Perkins Gilman from Rebecca, when she reviewed Herland (which I’d love to read but not sure when). So when I saw her name on Claire’s list, I picked the short story.

The main character is a woman who is rather ill and advised to stay in her room resting and doing very little. However the wallpaper on the wall disturbs and distracts her restlessly.

I don’t know if it’s only the copy that I read, but I felt the writing a bit choppy. There’s often only one sentence in one paragraph, so it changes paragraph all the time. Also, I’m never fond of mad-man story, because it always gets too abstract and loose at the end, and not to mention confusing. I read a bit on the background of the story and it apparently was a backlash from Gilman after she was advised by her doctor for a rest cure (and followed the advise leading to her depression).

4 stars

Read the story online

This story is included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 list)

I had a good short story week! How about you? As always, I welcome any recommendation!


Did you recognize the picture above? In case you’ve been living under a stone, Carl has opened up his Once Upon a Time IV challenge, running from 21 March to 20 June! Isn’t the picture very fitting with Snow, Glass, Apples? Which is by the way, is a perfect story for the challenge! I’m joining for The Journey, because I don’t want to be over-committed that way, and of course, Short Story Weekends.

I have a very short list to share. I’m going to (try to) read Tender Morsels with Claire’s gang (no, the other Claire, and no, her other gang) and The Colour of Magic for Terry Pratchett challenge. I might continue with Fables series too. We’ll see.

Are you joining too?

Short Stories Read

  1. The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change by Kij Johnson (4/5)

Books Read

  1. The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (4/5)
  2. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon (5/5)
  3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (4/5) — contains 10 short stories
  4. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (4/5)
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (5/5)
  6. The Sandman Vol 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman (3.5/5)
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There are 24 Comments to "Short Saturday: Gaiman, Jackson, and Gilman"

  • Suko says:

    Mee, I may need to add a couple of these to my Sundry Short Stories list!
    I have some great short story anthologies to read this spring, and have joined a challenge to help me stay motivated. I’ve also joining Carl V.’s Once Upon a Time IV reading challenge. :>)
    .-= [Suko´s last blog: Spring into Short Stories] =-.

  • Bellezza says:

    The Lottery gives me chills! I had to read it in high school, as almost every American student does, but then I found it in the New Yorker fiction podcast, and I burned a copy on disc for my parents. Although now that I think about it, I wonder if they’ll like it. It gives one the chills, doesn’t it?
    .-= [Bellezza´s last blog: Diets Kill Me] =-.

    • mee says:

      Oh I just realized that it is in the New Yorker fiction podcasts! Thanks for pointing that out. I may give it a go in the future, though I’m not sure if I want to “read” it again at the moment :)

  • Of the three you mentioned today, I’ve been meaning to read both Neil Gaiman’s one, and the Yellow Wallpaper (apparently it’s one of Sarah Waters’s favourite short stories). I’ve not managed to read any Gaiman yet, but you giving that short story a 5-star rating means I should get to it soon.

    • mee says:

      Su, I noticed that Snow, Glass, Apples is also on Nymeth’s favorite short stories, so I just made it a priority :)

  • katrina says:

    ‘Snow,Glass, Apples’ was fantastic, thanks for blogging about it I would never have known about it otherwise :D
    .-= [katrina´s last blog: Short Story Sunday: Squeezing in some reading time] =-.

  • Carl V. says:

    Gaiman certainly started out writing much more adult fare, but of late most of his stuff has leaned towards YA. He is definitely a writer who isn’t afraid to try something different rather than repeat what he just did, which excites and aggravates those of us who consider ourselves fans.

    Snow, Glass, Apples is a great short story, as are many in the Smoke and Mirrors collection. I highly recommend Chivalry, which also fits in very nicely with this challenge.

    Thanks so much for joining in the challenge this year, I hope you have a blast!!!

    • mee says:

      Carl, thanks for the welcome. After Snow, Glass, Apples I definitely look forward to reading more of his short stories. I hope to pick up Smoke and Mirrors sometime in the future. And thanks for mentioning Chivalry. I’m taking note of that!

  • Jess P says:

    One of my most favourite books EVER is The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter – I can’t recommend it highly enough, and you could read it for the Once Upon a Time challenge as they are all based on fairytales! The title story is brilliant but the one I love the best – so much so that I can quote entire paragraphs from it – is The Tiger’s Bride.

    It opens with “My father lost me to the Beast at cards.”

    I love Shirley Jackson too and have just read We Have Always Lived in the Castle – next stop, The Lottery and Other Stories! I’d never heard of that Neil Gaiman story, which is amazing. I vaguely remember reading The Yellow Wallpaper and feeling as if I was the one going mad.

    Thanks Mee!

    • mee says:

      The Bloody Chamber and that first line sound fantastic! Another book blogger (http://www.paperback-reader.co.uk/) is going to have Angela Carter’s month in April. I’ve been meaning to read Carter’s books because of her, and now you recommended her as well. You two made me all excited! Let me see if I could find her books somehow, as my library doesn’t have many at all.

      ps: I agree with you on The Yellow Wallpaper lol.

  • Mee, I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to read this post and response (for some reason my incoming links aren’t working either so I didn’t even know that you had linked to me (twice!) as that would have prompted my thanks sooner).

    I’m thrilled that you loved these stories and that you found your first 5* story! I have to give credit to Nymeth for drawing my attention to “Snow, Glass, Apples”, even though I was a prior Gaiman fan. If you have a chance then have a read of my review of it (possibly for Carl’s short story weekends last year), which can be found under my book reviews; I likened it to “Snow Child” by Angela Carter.

    Speaking of Angela Carter (as we are), her “The Company of Wolves” is also on my sidebar and if you click on it and scroll up then it is a document that contains all of the stories from The Bloody Chamber. However, if you would prefer a hard copy then email me your address and I’ll pop a copy in the post to you!
    .-= [Claire (Paperback Reader)´s last blog: Recent Acquisitions] =-.

    • mee says:

      Claire, it’s fine, I knew you were on holiday :). I have actually bought The Bloody Chamber a few hours before your offer. *shriek* I can’t wait to jump into it and read all the recommended stories! I was weighing between The Bloody Chamber and Smoke and Mirror by Gaiman just now. Tough decision!

  • Melissa says:

    The Lottery is such a fascinating story. It is disturbing, but powerful too. I’ll have to add Snow, Glass, Apples to by TBR list. I love Gaiman.
    .-= [Melissa´s last blog: Friday Favorites: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn] =-.

  • Shelley says:

    I’m almost afraid to read Gaiman’s disturbing works because I know how well he does creating a visual image with his words! I’m going to try Snow, Glass and Apples though. I love twisted fairy-tales too.

Trackbacks

  1. Bookie Mee | 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge
  2. Bookie Mee | The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  3. Bookie Mee | Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  4. Bookie Mee | The Sandman Vol 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
  5. Bookie Mee | Mid Year Challenges Wrap-up
  6. Bookie Mee | Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan


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