November marks the start of the second semester in majority of the colleges and universities at this part of the world. It was more or less during this month, years ago, when I borrowed and read an anthology of short stories from the university library. It’s already more than a decade since. The book’s title escapes me now, but even so, some of the selections in it, after all these years, stayed with me.
My criteria for selection are rather personal. I give no regard to variety of genres, but I strongly believe that the stories I am about introduce have variety in terms of styles and themes. But before I proceed with this month’s stories, I hope everyone has enjoyed October’s selections. Do you have any final comments about the stories of Neil Gaiman and Yiyun Li? Are there other works of theirs that you would like to recommend?
Roselily by Alice Walker (from In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women)
Alice Walker is popular for her novel The Color Purple. With regard to short stories, probably her most anthologized piece is Everyday Use. It describes the relationship of a mother and daughter, largely conflicted by their differences in belief as far as heritage is concerned.
Since that story is most likely her popular, I will choose another one: Roselily. I choose it because of the sheer ingenuity of its style. A narrative framed within a wedding vow, it tells both a generic and a specific story. One could also look at it as a case of how a story should be and how it really is. I believe this is a story that should be read by readers who appreciate various literary styles and studied by aspiring writers to understand the dynamics between story and style.
The Swimmer by John Cheever (from The Brigadier and the Golf Widow)
John Cheever is undeniably one of the front-runners of the previous century’s literary canon, both in the novel and short story forms. He is a household name in the fiction section of the New Yorker. The Enormous Radio, frequently included in short story anthologies, shows us his mastery of the short story. It is about a family who owns a radio that lets them listen to the conversations of their neighbors living in the same apartment complex.
My choice, instead, is The Swimmer, which is equally unforgettable and with equally odd circumstances. One day, the protagonist decides to take a swim from one pool to the other. What takes place from that first swim onwards is a study of how time can pass us by. One either swims against it or flows with it.
Happy November reading to everyone. I hope that you enjoy these stories as much as I did. You may click on the links below or at the menu. Also, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about the featured stories and the reviews that we post. Thanks!