Sunday, April 29, 2018

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Stories You Can Read Online for Free

Sigh Fie.

Nora K. Jemison makes me scream.
Sofia Saematar makes me sorry.
Amber Sparks makes me shiver.
Kristine Ong Muslim makes me sort of sick.
Brian Evenson makes me swallow, hard.
Lincoln Michel makes me stare.
Catherynne M. Valenti makes me stretch.
Jeffrey Ford makes me smile.
NNedi Okorafor makes me swear.
Kelly Link makes me sink.

What special effects do these stories have on you? Are they “literary”? Why or why not?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bernard Malamud

Let’s talk about the literary canon: Bernard Malamud is one of a pantheon of New York writers of Ashkenazi origin whose work contributes to a Yiddish subculture recognized worldwide. This tradition often includes elements of fabulism. 

The Parisian Jewish French author whose work I translate, Cyrille Fleischman, also includes similar elements. In one short story, a literary author becomes the corned beef sandwich he has been selling. In another piece, a man becomes his son’s pet dog. Yet, few readers in France know Fleischman’s name. Likewise, Paris’s substantial Yiddish population does not have the same worldwide renown, in part because of its decimation during the Holocaust. In part because of a lack of recognition by major publishing houses, for related reasons of social power dynamics that we might discuss in class.

Whose work becomes part of an established canon? 

In a fairly unrelated segue, I’d like you focus on yourself in these blog comments. What, if anything, in Malamud’s writing “speaks your language”? What elements, fabulist or otherwise, will you borrow? Set yourself some goals. Share them here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Noy Holland (Group project post)

There is little information to be found about Noy Holland on the internet, But there is no doubt she's been a successful Author. Her latest work is I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like: New and Selected Stories, out now from Counterpoint Press. Noy's debut novel, Bird, came out in 2015 to much critical acclaim. Other collections of short fiction and novellas include Swim for the Little One First (FC2), What Begins with Bird (FC2), and The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf).  She has published work in The Kenyon Review, Antioch, Conjunctions, The Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Western Humanities Review, The Believer, NOON, and New York Tyrant, among others.  She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council award for artistic merit and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.  She has taught for many years in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, as well as at Phillips Andover and the University of Florida.  She serves on the board of directors at Fiction Collective Two.

Tally is an incredibly short piece, less than two full pages. Yet there is a great deal of story told in those eight paragraphs. This leads to our first question: how short can a short story be, before it becomes flash or minute fiction? There is a lot of plot in a short space, so perhaps it is the contents of the story, or how much time is spanned that determines what kind of fiction it is?

In the New York Times review of her newest collection, I Was Trying to Describe What it Feels Like, Scott Bradfield says "For two decades, Noy Holland has been writing about the deep connections that develop between people and the natural landscapes they inhabit." Do you see such a connection in Tally? How does Noy Holland use the natural landscapes in the story to aid and shape the

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Andrea Barrett

This is a placeholder for all you early birds with no feet.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Melissa Goodrich

THESE stories zoom toward our planet from the Oort cloud that is Melissa Goodrich's brain. The tales are prismatic and sweetly perturbing, and the language is lemniscate. Like your little brother and sister in a house of mirrors, Goodrich plays tag with your tongue. Tighten your Kuiper belt, sweethearts. This is a fabulous ride.

Thus I blurbed Melissa's first book.

Look for risks. Look for sadness and death. Look for fun. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Danielle Evans

Danielle Evans is a modern American author. She studied at Columbia University and the University of Iowa. She is currently teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will be teaching at John-Hopkins University in the fall. She has won several awards, including the “5 Under 35” fiction writer’s award in 2011. Her first anthology of short stories has been awarded the PEN/Robert Bingham in the same year. Danielle Evans’s writing was also published in The Paris Review and  the 2008 and 2010 Best American Short Stories collections in addition to the 2017 one, where “Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain” was anthologized. This is an impressive amount of accolades for such a comparatively young author.
“Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain,” was also published in the American Short Fiction literary journal, in Fall 2016, which was a retrospective of the best pieces published in the past 25 years. New Pages review of the journal mentions Evans’s story by name, and devotes a paragraph to it, an honor for such a brief review of a whole journal chock full of excellent writing.
Jenny Mark, the reviewer mentioned above said that, “Another story in this volume that had me completely focused on every word was “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain” by Danielle Evans. The name of the story was confusing to me—what could it be about? Even having read the story, I still am not sure how the title connects to the events within except that it harkens somewhat to the main character, Rena.”
In your comment please give us your opinion on how the piece’s title connects to the text of the story? Does the title fit? What influence does the historical reference have on the piece?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Margaret Atwood

I first read Margaret Atwood's stories collected in BLUEBEARD'S EGG AND OTHER STORIES when I was in high school! This astonishes me now to consider, as I didn't come from a particularly literary family or community. How did I come to possess this soft-cover book, which still sits on my book shelf? I have no idea, but I'll never forget its impact, or how Margaret Atwood came to be one of the few writers I consider "my favorites."

THE HANDMAID'S TALE is the novel that catapulted her to international fame (she's from Canada), and I love this book, but you have to read these: THE MADDADAM TRILOGY (pure literary sci-fi), CAT'S EYE (coming-of-age girls and their evil ways), THE BLIND ASSASSIN (weaving three different genres of writing), THE ROBBER BRIDE (fantastic psychological ghost story). I've read others of her 17 novels, but these are my favorites. And she has published books of poetry. Not to mention 10 books of short fiction. Oh. My.

I saw her speak once. Already in her late seventies (this was several years ago, at AWP), she was dynamite. Fiercely political, intellectual, straightforward, and terribly witty: and these traits definitely figure in the stories you're reading for the online class.

"Happy Endings" is a tour-de-force of metafiction and modern self-consciousness, a statement on storytelling and ontology. It was included in a collection called MURDER IN THE DARK (1983).

But for your blog comment, please focus on "True Trash." Along with "Wilderness Tips," it appeared in Atwood's 1991 collection called WILDERNESS TIPS. This story contemplates the stereotypical romance novel and plays with its tropes. How does Atwood fool with the reader's expectation (class bias, anyone) and does her story succeed?

If you wish to comment on "Wilderness Tips," perhaps you'll consider how this story plays with one character's life history in contrast to another's (again, note the class and national bias).