Sunday, September 21, 2008
A Little Sunday Reading v. 16 Short Story Edition
I have read a couple beautifully written short story collections in the last week or so. I'm working my way through a couple dense books, so the short stories provided a nice relief. I read Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You. And I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The thing about July is that she is quirky. While I normally love quirky, I often feel she is a bit too quirky for me. Like maybe I'm not getting everything that I should be getting out of her work. Take her movie, You, Me and Everyone We Know, for example. Just didn't *get* it. Spent more time scratching my head and less time laughing. But I found her unbelievably charming despite my discomfort with the movie. Her short stories were much of the same. She is charming. Her stories are just a little bit off. But I enjoyed myself. In fact, I would probably be waxing eloquent about the collection had I not read one of the best collection of short stories EVER around the same time.

Sorry, Miranda, you're getting the bump. I need to take a moment and regale my good readers with excerpts from Simon Van Booy's The Secret Lives of People in Love. I read this book as part of the Dangerous Reading Challenge and I thought I would read a couple stories one day and scatter the rest throughout the month. But! I started reading and could. not. stop. Seriously. I couldn't. I stayed up way past my bedtime and read all the stories in one night. The whole time I was moving toward the end, I was begging myself to stop and savor all the stories. I devoured it all while wanting it to never end. This collection of short stories is fantastic. FANTASTIC. It is both romantic and bleak--often times both in the same story. The language choices are always appropriate and moving. Characters perfectly developed. And the flow between stories could not have been more smooth. I wish I could type in all the gems in this book but I'd be typing the entire collection.

Here is a sample of Van Booy's fantastic style:

A filthy homeless man is squatting with the American tourists and telling jokes in broken English. He is not looking at the girls' shaved legs but at the unfinished bottle of wine and sullen wedge of cheese. The Americans seem good-natured and pretend to laugh; I suppose the key to a good life is to gently overlook the truth and hope that at any moment we can all be reborn.

We walk arm in arm through twilight. Paris never gets too dark, because when natural light dissolves, you're never too far from a street lamp--and they're often beautiful--set upon tall black stalks, each lamp a glowing pair of white balls in love with its very own length of street. Sometimes, they all flicker to life at the same time, as if together they can hold off darkness.

Some daydreams seemed to want to swallow him up for good. Like wild horses, they would follow him in the day and then wander the plains of his dream life, but always upon him--until he would barely remember his own name.

Gabriel wonders how many people occupy one seat in a day, and if the seat could record the thoughts of the occupants, what it would say about human beings.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Andi said...

Yayyy! I'm always happy when another Van Booy fan is born. I loved No One Belongs Here More Than You, but the two were spaced out for me, which I'm sure helped. Simon always wins, though. ;)

Post a Comment

<< Home