Tag Archives: Fiction – Short Stories

ex02 — Bryson, Catton, and Saunders

Saunders, Catton, Bryson

I’ve been having one of the most challenging and exciting and dorkful reading life lately. At the heels of the first installment of The Annotated TBR, I started reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and couldn’t help but dive into A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. And, because both books were (or either of them was) ridiculous for me to transport that one time I had to show up for a meeting, I also started George Saunders’ much-lauded, was-everywhere-in-2013 Tenth of December collection. I’m having so much fun. [Continue reading.]

DOYLE — The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

“He must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: “I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.” The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time. [Continue reading.]

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Bibliophilic housekeeping, plus Lethem and Munro—and beetles

It’s like musical goddamned chairs, my mood and my reading material—one moment I’m all eager for awkward crushing (Rainbow Rowell), the next I’m hungry for some straight-up murder shenanigans (Gillian Flynn); one day I’m bingeing myself with the best of historical romance (Courtney Milan, Mary Balogh, and so on) and before that day even ends I’ve tossed the ebooks into a dark corner of my hard drive to reach for comic books with lots and lots of explosions in them. [Continue reading.]

QUERIDA Anthology

06122013: Mostly mistresses

There are many, many things to be excited for in Querida—the book gets the ball rolling with the Rizal passages on Doña Consolacion; one of my favorite short story writers, Lakambini A. Sitoy, has a piece on Josephine Bracken (who’s got to be among my favorite women-in-Philippine-history, if only because we empirically know so little about her, but she’s been rehashed every which way, god); and there are numerous unread-by-me stories by other writers I’ve loved reading. (And it’s all about mistresses!) But I’ll get to the promise of the actual pieces much later: I’ve been rather busy wallowing in the too-amazing-for-words introduction to the anthology, penned by (I suppose) its editors Caroline S. Hau, Katrina Tuvera, and Isabelita O. Reyes. I’m already feeling a little bummed that the introduction—chock-full of information I don’t know what to do with, erudite, sly, relentlessly fascinating—won’t be going on forever. [Continue reading.]

MUNRO - Dear Life 01

For the “weight that shifted around the heart”

More than the generosity of her stories, more than the scope—nothing short of meandering at times, the reader would be justified in suspecting—it’s this uncanny carriage among Munro’s people. There’s always this grace with her stories, borne (I’m whimsical enough to think) of how her characters will themselves to remain still under duress. So: The illusion of grace, then—but the illusion is more than enough. In the face of some keen shame, an unforeseen mortification, a half-expected disappointment. [Continue reading.]

TENORIO - Monstress

The Poetics of Having Left

The noticeable ambivalence to questions of nationality is what allows Tenorio’s short stories to freely focus on the outliers that people his stories. Race and sense of place, the politics of leaving and of staying gone-too-long—are relegated to simply being among the many circumstances that make life a pain in the ass to live. The country one was born in is simply an inherent part of one’s character—one that, via Tenorio, willfully shuns preeminence. Yes, itt’s the color of one’s hair, the tinge one’s skin takes in high summer, the hardness of one’s consonants—the fact that, at a certain era, one couldn’t enter a bar through the front door. And it’s up there alongside figuring how to kiss someone onscreen for the first time, after a career of having “gouged, bitten, clawed, stabbed”; alongside watching one’s grandfather scoop chicken liver from the sidewalk, glimpsing the white on the crown amid the haphazardly applied dye; alongside learning how to make a habit of hiding in the garage as a child, waiting for one’s too-young, too-beautiful sister to return from her date with a no-good asshole. [Continue reading.]

03042013 - February Unread

03052013: The Unread of February

The “Currently Reading” counter on my Goodreads account has morphed into tally of bibliophilic failures; since the tail-end of January and all throughout February, the books themselves have been shuttling in and out of my bags, on top of desks both at work and at home, beneath my pillows, beside the bed, on the floor, and until recently—in the case of poor Simenon—where I keep my underwear. They’ve gone to and fro Quezon City and the heart of Manila, they’ve sat quietly inside my bag, beside computer cords and my make-up kit and chocolate bars, while I sat through meetings and had dinners both welcome and not. They’ve been opened, marked, closed, then set aside in favor of other books. [Continue reading.]

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Short fiction, or bust

The thing is, children: The short story will persist, and our attitude toward it will endure. The novel may die, resurge, die again, get resurrected endlessly by its legion detractors and champions; the essay will toy with medium and length and preoccupation and ethical standards; the novella will always be the special little snowflake it’s grown comfortably into; poetry will keep curdling our blood with its beauty, its inscrutability, and its conceit that it’s the best form for thought-and-soul that ever will be. And the short story will be in a corner, nursing a warmed beer, brooding over an overflowing ashtray, trying so obviously and awkwardly not to meet anyone’s eye for fear that it might seem too needy—and it’ll be there in that complicated metaphor of a corner forever. And, kids—we’ll all just have to deal with it. [Continue reading.]

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In Books, January 2013

I seem to be behaving, thus far, this 2013, when it comes to amassing books. Fine, that’s still quite a number up there—and I have obviously rediscovered my fanaticism for good ol’ Steve—but they all came from the trusty, national secondhand bookstore that is Booksale. That is: The consolation is, my wallet didn’t burn as brightly. Because, you know, we really need less wallet-burning around these here parts. Yeah. Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of what I bought, and the respective feeble rationalizations for each purchase. [Continue reading.]

DU MAURIER - The Doll

What to do with du Maurier?

I’ve mentioned the wtfuckery that abounds in Daphne du Maurier’s collection of “lost” short stories, The Doll. I’m only halfway-ish through the book—that’s six stories down—and each one of those stories has a half-baked feel I can’t shake off, and majority simply has me scratching my poor head. That is: None of these is the du Maurier short fiction I’ve come to know. Though her always-to-die-for prose is present, all of the stories—with the [begrudging] exception of the title story—simply feels like du Maurier had an idea, picked up some loose leaf, and ran with it. If I were a snide little gremlin, I’d say something like: Oh, is it a wonder these stories were lost? [Currently reading.]