Monday, November 24, 2014

Best American Short Stories 2013: Your Pick

Wandering Art
For this final blog post, you get to comment on one of the stories in Best American Short Stories 2013, which is of course like a journal itself, a curated archive of individual works published in 2012. Did you find a contemporary writer to love? Hate? My only request is that your story choice not be one of the writers we have already discussed in class. Please find something to say about the craft, authorial intention, structure, or form of one of these pieces, and winks to you if you relate it to your newly considered relationship to "wandering."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Malaria," "Encounters with Unexpected Animals," "Chapter Two," and "The Wilderness"

I want to talk about what amazed you about these stories. For me, the striking part of fiction is the "wow" factor, that moment where the story surprised you despite the fact that all the groundwork for the ending was laid out. Was it the odd way that Lisa reacted to the father in "Encounters With Unexpected Animals"? Or were you more attracted to the AA stories in "Chapter Two"?

For me, it was the point of view of the narrator in "Malaria." I was always told that you shouldn't have a passive narrator, and at first, I read Orlando as being passive. Here he was visiting a family that was a novelty to him, coming in as an observer. Of course, my fiction senses are tingling. I'm panicking. What is this guy supposed to do? How is his presence significant?

For me, watching Orlando develop into an active character in this story is something that I want to take note of and put in my writing toolbox. Though he doesn't converse with George much, he has the pivotal conversation about his growing illness, how he's losing himself, and is able to use that information to go on his own journey. Though at the end of the story Orlando admits that he cannot tell George's story, I feel that George's story has altered Orlando in a significant way, even down to how he perceives his own casual sickness.

What about you? Did you find anything in these stories that you would like to steal? Come prepared tomorrow to talk about what you would like to take from these stories. And I encourage to attempt some exercises based on what you responded to.