Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category
Phoebe Cornelius, the protagonist of “The Ether of Space,” the second of the five long stories in this collection, makes a living explaining scientific concepts to laymen. This is Andrea Barrett’s forte also. Three of these stories are set in the wings of some great scientific discovery: Phoebe is trying to comprehend Einstein’s Relativity; her son Sam becomes a pioneer in the relatively new science of genetics; and an earlier story explores the impact of Darwinism on the younger generation of scientists in America. In all these cases, Barrett explains the underlying concepts with great clarity.
A title such as THE UNAMERICANS begs this question: what is an American? Or more specifically, what is an American in Molly Antopolâ€™s world? A traditional answer might be to have a personal sense of identity and to be unencumbered to pursue oneâ€™s most shining hopes and dreams in a land where anything is possible.
Molly Antopolâ€™s characters are mostly Jewish and they are mostly alienated â€“ from spouse or kids, from past ideology and beliefs, and often, from their most authentic selves. Each story is a little gem onto itself.
Chinelo Okparanta came to my attention after her story, America, was a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. It tells the touching story of a very special friendship between two young women that challenges Nigerian traditions and social conventions… America has been published as one of ten stories in this, her first collection, Happiness, like Water. Okparanta is without a doubt becoming a promising representative of the new generation of Nigerian and African writers who are giving growing prominence to the field of African short fiction writing.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, WE NEED NEW NAMES, is the story of Darling, a young Zimbabwean girl living in a shantytown called Paradise. She is feisty ten-year old, an astute observer of her surroundings and the people in her life. Bulawayo structures her novel more like a series of linked stories, written in episodic chapters, told loosely chronologically than in one integrated whole. In fact, the short story “Hitting Budapest,” that became in some form an important chapter in this “novel,” won the prestigious 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing.
In addition to Darling, the stories introduce her gang of close friends. They are vividly and realistically drawn and we can easily imagine them as they roam free in their neighbourhood and also secretly walk into “Budapest,” a near-by district of the well-off…
Lynn Coady’s new story collection, HELLGOING, brings together nine self-contained stories that take a realistic and thought provoking look at a wide range of human relationships in today’s world. Reading them we are pushed or pulled into something like a voyeur role, observing in close-up fragments of ongoing or evolving relationships between an array of distinct characters, be they in couples, with family or friends, or crossing paths in professional or casual encounters. Some of the stories can take you on a bit of a rough ride; they rarely are smooth, easy or the content just pleasant. While they might leave us with a sense of unease they also stimulate us to consider more deeply the underlying questions and issues that the author raises.
I have long been an admirer or Russell Banks’ work. This collection of short stories is excellent and many of them kept me riveted for the duration. The collection consists of twelve stories, most of them about the families we have and the families we make. Others are about the figments of truth that make up our experiences while we decide what is worth believing and what is not. The stories take place in different geographic settings from Florida to upstate New York to Portland, Oregon.