This month’s selection of stories is to do with the theme of getting older. The Oxford English Dictionary and the US Census define the midlife period as between the ages of 45 and 65 years and I am beginning this phase of my life this month. So I went looking for stories specifically about what I call “Middlescence.” Here are some of them by Yiyun Li, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Karen Shepard, Jon Hickey, Anushka Jasraj, and one of my flash stories from earlier this year. As usual, they are all free to read online by clicking on the titles below. Enjoy. [NOTE: For regular readers: You may have noticed that I tend to share stories by Alice Munro and Grace Paley quite frequently. Both of them have, of course, written many terrific works on this theme. I tried to mix it up a bit this time.] Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for September 2017
This month’s collection of short stories is related to travel. There are five new stories and five that I have featured in past months and am resharing in case you missed them earlier — all free to read online, just click the titles. The traveler-writers included here: Jack London, Virginia Woolf, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Nanjil Nadan, Joy Williams, Reem Abu-Baker, Meron Hadero, Goli Taraghi, and one of my own published earlier this year.
For me, travel has always been a more purposeful endeavor beyond a change of scenery or relaxation or checking off a to-do hotspot — beyond “tourism,” really. This is also why solo trips work best for me (and I know they also work best for my family members.) In these times, going somewhere new ought to be about a deeper personal transformation and not simply about eating, shopping, and being waited upon while rushing from one place to the next taking a gazillion photos. We can do most of this now from the comfort of our homes. Global cuisine is now delivered or cooked locally, Amazon offers everything from all corners of the world, a tap of a phone app brings an army of service providers to our doorsteps, and Google/Flickr has a treasure trove of photos better than anything a layperson can manage.
Taking in an underground play in East Berlin shortly after the Wall came down, cruising the Loch Ness at midnight, driving cross-country through national parks and small-town USA, sharing bread and cheese with a French gardener in a near-deserted country chateau in Dijon, meeting writers from around the world at the Jaipur Literary Festival, practicing Yoga in the mountains near the Himalayas — these are the kinds of travel experiences where I have met the most interesting people, collected fascinating stories of past and present, and, most importantly, learned more about the world and myself in conscious, mindful, and transformational ways. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for July 2017
Father’s Day falls on June 18th. So here are a few short stories of fathers-and-sons and fathers-and-daughters — another double bonanza collection because there are far too many good ones out there. I had to put some aside to share for next year or this list would get too long. As always, these are free to read online — just click the story titles — so please do share and read with your own families. The stories are from these amazing writers: Ben Marcus, Jesmyn Ward, Premchand, Yu Hua, Junot Diaz, Amy Bloom, Rick Attig, Sharon Telfer, Grace Paley, Lesley Nneka Arimah, and Ian Frazier. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for June 2017
For this month of May, which is also the annual month-long celebration of short stories, here is a double-bonanza collection of ten mother-daughter stories — classic, contemporary, award winners, etc. — by some of the best writers out there: Tillie Olsen, Jamaica Kincaid, Grace Paley, Cynthia Ozick, Edna O’Brien, Alice Walker, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nina McConigley, Helen Oyeyemi, and Celeste Ng. They are all free to read online as usual. A personal note about Mother’s Day coming up on May 14th: though I wished my mother each year when she was alive, this day has gained a whole lot more meaning for me after she passed away. It is a reminder to me to pause and reflect on her legacy, of course, but also on motherhood in general. This might seem odd to those who know me because I am not a mother, by choice, myself. Nor do I have any regrets about this decision. But what I firmly believe is this: while not everyone needs to be a mother, everyone does need to be mothered. And fathered too, of course, though “fathering” has not acquired as much verb significance yet. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads For May 2017
The word “vignette” originates from the French “vigne,” which means “little vine” and refers to the vine motifs used sometimes as decorative embellishments to a text. Put a pin in that phrase “decorative embellishments to a text” because we’re going to come back to it. There is a fair bit of conflicting commentary regarding vignettes. Some people refer to short stories or flash fiction as vignettes. Often, a personal essay is described as a vignette. These are not entirely accurate. For me, short stories and flash fiction are about complete stories with the classic story elements of protagonist, antagonist, conflict, complications, resolution, and so on. A personal essay may or may not be a vignette. So let’s explore this narrative form today and see how it is different from these various other forms of writing. Continue reading Writing Practices: On Writing Vignettes