Happy anniversary Short Story Station! It is a fulfilling experience being part of this collaborative blog. For me, it is an affirmation of reading what we like and connecting with those who loves reading short stories too.
In celebration, allow me to share the Top 5 stories I’ve read for the last twelve months.
A Faraway Smell of Lemon by Rachel Joyce
This is a short Christmas story and not a cheery read for the season, but in Joyce’s few words it conveyed a profound understanding of life’s ups and downs.
Everyone around Binny is on the rush, doing their best to finish their last Christmas shopping. Meanwhile, Binny’s feelings are debating whether to succumb to heartbreak or keep a strong front and celebrate Christmas with her children.
No matter how much she rails, there are some things that are gone forever… It is enough to have tiptoed to that space beyond the skin, beyond our nerve endings, and to have glimpsed things that beforehand we only half knew.
What started as an unpremeditated meeting with a shop girl, tending a small store for household products, turned out to be a compassionate encounter. As much as good things happen, we cannot simply shoo away the bad ones. Such is life. It is never easy, but sometimes it is the small menial things that may help us pull through by reminding us how something worn and dirty can still be revived.
Rachel Joyce’s simple words has a keen sense of touch.
The Museum of Literary Souls by John Connolly
Mr. Berger was leading a quiet life when he witnessed a woman commit suicide by the train tracks, in the small town of Glossom. No one believed him, especially the police, when he reported the said event. By the train tracks, a few days later, he saw the same woman again. And this time, he was able to stop her and follow her back home… to the library.
It’s a natural consequence of the capacity of a library to contain entire worlds, whole universes, and all contained between the covers of books. In that sense, every library or bookstore is practically infinite.
And Mr. Berger felt very privileged meeting people from these worlds. If only all book lovers may be granted such an opportunity, it is more than awesome.
John Connolly magically stretched the mystery of bookshelves into doors and rooms of unimagined possibilities. His words are like a web of spell, spinning a tale I don’t want to end. The story was so beautiful and fulfilling, a true delight for a book lover like myself.
Emergency by Denis Johnson
Emergency, is the sixth story in Jesus’ Son. The story speaks of the anonymous narrator while working as clerk in a hospital. He shares the midnight shift with his friend Georgie, an orderly. Both men are drug abusers, furnishing their vice by stealing from the hospital’s cupboard. Yet with unflinching resolve, Georgie was able to pull out a knife sticking from a man’s eye, rendering no complications. A feat even the doctor on duty waived to accomplish.
Georgie is not exactly the hero type; both he and the narrator aren’t seemed interested in popularity or simple acknowledgment. If anything, all they want is an escape from the reality of life through drugs. Who could blame them, when they feel that harmony can only be achieved in an anesthetized world?
After a while Hardee asked Georgie, “What do you do for a job,” and Georgie said, “I save lives.”
It isn’t easy to find hope in this narrator’s life. If luck has anything to do with it, he has a very short supply. Or maybe the drugs had limited his sight. However, it’s a wonder to read how hardy a person’s soul can be; of how fate can be redirected with a compassionate nudge from others.
Denis Johnson’s poetic voice is vivid and raw, it cuts across the imagination.
Read story here.
And The Mothers Stepped Over Their Sons by Clay McLeod Chapman
This is my favorite story from Chapman’s Rest Area. The story is a passionate monologue of a mother searching for his lost soldier son amidst the debris of his dismembered comrades. She calls out to her son Michael like she expects the dead to reply. And no one is stopping her from berating these fallen soldiers for taking her son with them despite his delicate lungs.
Michael? No point in hiding from me. Pouting like this only keeps you from your coffin. I’m not leaving this field without you, and that’s a promise. You come home, let me bury you where you belong. I don’t care if I have to drag you back by the boots, young man. And believe me, I’ll do it. Most of us mothers will have no choice.
Chapman employed brilliant and shocking stories in this collection; honestly labored with unflinching reality. The prose is a fusion of rugged language and irony.
THE GUEST by Albert Camus
Set in Algeria, back during the French colonization. Daru, a schoolmaster, was visited by Balducci, an old gendarme from El Ameur. With him was an Arab prisoner that Daru needs to transfer to Tanguit, east of the plateau, on the morrow. A great dilemma took hold of Daru. As much as Daru hate to condone the Arab’s crime, he also refused to be an instrument in another man’s conviction.
“Listen, Balducci,” Daru said suddenly, “every bit of this disgusts me, and first of all your fellow here. But I won’t hand him over. Fight, yes, if I have to. But not that.”
The next morning, halfway to Tanguit, Daru gave the Arab the choice, he can either choose the eastern road to Tanguit and his prison, or he can take the road south and take refuge with the nomads.
Daru have never felt so alienated on the plateau before, until now. Not after the Arab chose the road east.
Albert Camus used a brilliant setting, purposely utilizing a man’s contented existence, in spite of his isolation and frugal livelihood, to emphasize the subject of moral distress and human responsibility.
Read story here.
Thank you for staying with The Short Story Station. We hope to share more stories in the future and that maybe you’ll enjoy them as well.