Short Saturday: Carver, Moore, and Chekhov

In Short Saturday I will journal my journey to find 5-star quality short stories, whose virtual trophy right now is only held by Truman Capote for A Christmas Memory. 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.

My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead

Continuing from the first three short stories I read from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead, I read 3 more in the span of a few weeks (taking my time, I know).

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

As you can guess, the title is where Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is from. I read Carver’s Cathedral last year and while the stories didn’t blow my mind, they do have certain charm. By this time I felt like I was sooo familiar with Carver’s style: sparse prose, tackling issues of married couples.

In this story two married couples drinking together one afternoon, talking about love they find around them. Like all Carver’s stories, it struck me as being very male. And somehow the characters always drink. They drink a lot and talk s*it. I’ll call it Carverian, as in this story is very Carverian.

How to Be an Other Woman by Lorrie Moore

I picked this story out of whim. The Other Woman story never gets old. I love it that in this short Lorrie Moore gave a very smart twist. It is told in sort of a set of instructions (How to Be… Get it?)

“When you were six you thought mistress meant to put your shoes on the wrong feet. Now you are older and know it cam mean many things, but essentially it means to put your shoes on the wrong feet.

You walk differently. In store windows you don’t recognize your self; you are another woman, some crazy interior display lady in glasses stumbling frantic and preoccupied through the mannequins. In public restrooms you sit dangerously flat against the toilet seat, a strange flesh sundae of despair and exhilaration, murmuring into your bluing thighs: “Hello, I’m Charlene. I’m a mistress.”

It is like having a book out from the library.

It is like constantly having a book out from the library.”

I was really quite impressed with the story and checked out the author, Loorie Moore, as I never heard of her before. She’s American fiction writer known mainly for her humorous short stories. No wonder. I would love to read more of her works.

RobAroundBooks hosts a challenge called William Trevor vs. Lorrie Moore: A Quest to Discover which of the Two is More of a Modern-day Chekhov. So I wasn’t wrong. Lorrie Moore is a big-shot in shorties world. She also just released a new novel titled A Gate at the Stairs which Ann Kingman raved about a while back.

It’s great timing, because my next story is of Chekhov’s. I just need to read William Trevor after this (which luckily is also included in the anthology).

The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov

The Lady with the Little Dog is a bitter-sweet love story between a man and a woman, both are married to other people. In their ripe age they just realize that they have possibly just fallen in love for real and thus have not married the right person.

The story is available to read online. Over there it’s called The Lady with the Dog (link to full story). I don’t know which title is correct. If you’re interested to read Chekov, 201 of his stories are also available online. Go nuts!

Coincidentally, RobAroundBooks also hosts a challenge called Chekin’ Off the Chekhov Shorts and he’s been going through all those 201 stories, with links to his rating and thoughts. Really, I’m not gonna read all 201 shorts, so Rob’s page is a great way to let someone else do the weeding and plucking for you :D

For another opinion, in her review, Eva talked about all three stories above. She seems to like them about the same amount as I did.

What I learned this week: One of my problems with short stories is that most of the time I feel like I have read something similar in the past. I think it’s because with books you have enough time and space to make your book unique, but with short stories there’s so little time.

Did you post any thoughts on short stories this week? I would love it if you leave a link in the comment!

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