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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