Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Short Stories of note

I think the majority of people--at least those who can afford to do so--like to watch certain movies more than once. This is why DVDs sell so well, for repeat viewings. I'm no different, though we don't own very many DVDs.

I never reread novels, as life is short, and there are so many out there I want to read before I draw my last breath. I do sometimes reread short stories I enjoyed. Here are some I have experienced and enjoyed more than once:

1) Allison Amend's "The People You Know Best" in her collection Things that Pass for Love.

2) Shalom Auslander's "Bobo the Self-Hating Chimp," "Somebody Up There Likes You," and "God is a Big Happy Chicken," in his book Beware of God. When I taught Hebrew school at a Reform Synagogue a few years ago, I even had my students read "God is a Big Happy Chicken" --a slightly bowdlerized version of it (minus the cussing and sexual reference) to illustrate the point that there's beauty in the traditions even if the students found parts of the Torah spurious and objectionable.

3) Franz Kafka's "The Bucket Rider".

4) Agnon's "That Tzaddiq's Etrog," "To Father's House," and "At the Outset of the Day." Best read in the original Hebrew to see his unparalleled use of language. I only have one of these in the Hebrew at present, so I know what I'm buying the next time I visit Steimatzky's.

5) Etgar Keret's אף אחד לא מבין את הקוואנטים in צנורות, translated into English as "Quanta" in The Girl on the Fridge. Keret's story על ערכו התזונתי של החלום (translated as "On the Nutritional Value of Dreams") is my absolute favourite short story. Keret is even more superbly and surreally imaginative than Kafka and Agnon.

6) Miranda July's "This Person" in Nobody Belongs Here More Than You.

7) Ingeborg Bachmann's "Undine Goes." I've blathered about this story before. I think it would make a supreme oratorio for a single soprano, and I hope someday a composer more skilled than myself will match its poetic eloquence with rich musical accompaniment.

8)Borges' "Library of Babel," "The Secret Miracle," and "Averroes' Search." His stories are for those who love history, literature, and the history of knowledge.

9) Jonathan Lethem's "Access Fantasy."

I've recently encountered a few remarkable short stories in Best British Short Stories 2011. I especially enjoyed "Love Silk Food" by Leone Ross and "So Much Time in a Life" by Heather Leach. I look forward to reading more of their work.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not familiar with Agnon, so going to follow this one up, Gus. Looking forward to your reading of Keret's Dreams for RMSYL. Maybe we can confer more on how/when/whereness of the recording this Thursday?