Friday, May 04, 2007

Short Story Short Challenge

I've signed up for Literate Kitten's Short Story Short Challenge recently.

The rules are simple: just pick one story from the Literate Kitten's list of 10 favourite short stories — the one you have not read, that you vow to read. Then recommend a favourite story of yours that you want others to read.

I hereby vow to read Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find and Raymond Carver's Cathedral — both stories found in collections I already own.

And I offered Amy Bloom's Silver Water and Love is Not a Pie — both stories can be found in Come To Me.

Two short stories by the same author? I have to confess I came to the short story late in life, and so I have not read many memorable short stories. It was Amy Bloom that convinced me of the power of the contemporary short story genre, and if I have to recommend someone new to short stories, I would refer them to the writer that made short stories "happen" for me.

Love is Not a Pie is the first Amy Bloom story I read. The story opens with a most captivating line:

In the middle of the eulogy at my mother's boring and heart-breaking funeral, I began to think about calling off the wedding.

The narrator is just going through the motions expected of her, the bereaved daughter. Then something happened that led her to discover the unusual love-life of her mother, and how her father had approved of it. Everyone has to find their own way to love, as her father reminds her. Her mother loved honestly on her own terms, and it hurted nobody. Her father understood this.

It led her to question her own pending marriage, and what she wanted out of love. She called her fiance about her doubts, and the fiance, a salt-of-the-earth sort answered most unfortunately:

"I don't understand, Ellen. We've already ordered the invitations."

It was the wrong thing to say, and I could not marry a man like the fiance either.

Love is Not a Pie reminds me that I want more out of love than convenience and comfort. I want the other person to love me enough to fight for me. Perhaps it is true I make love difficult for myself. But I have just one life, and I choose all or nothing in love. That was when it hit me, how Amy Bloom makes you empathise with the characters even when they are in situations you have never been before.

3 comments:

bhadd said...

A Good Man is Hard to Find I think is great, maybe better--best. I read "Sea Oak", very good "Sea Oak".

The Hood Company

LK said...

I know I've read Love is Not a Pie, but it has been a while. (I think it is in one of my many volumes of Best American Short Stories.)

Looking forward to hearing what you think of Flannery.

Dark Orpheus said...

Definitely looking forward to reading O'Connor. Just need a quiet weekend.