Recommendations (Jan- June 2016)- Short Stories

Short stories read and liked:

Olikoye by By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Who even knew that our small village existed? But my father kept telling them that he had done nothing, that it was the minister who insisted on coming. Years later, when my father told me the story, I could still see his eyes full of things I could not name. “The Minister treated all of us like human beings,” he said. “Like human beings.”

Creative Writing by Etgar Keret

She recited what the writer had said to her the way people recite a verse from the Bible. And Aviad, who had originally tried to suggest a different ending, backpedalled and said that it was all a matter of taste and that he really didn’t understand much about it.

Proxy Marriage by Maile Meloy

The marrying couple had sent photographs, and Bridey dropped her feet to the floor and propped up the photos against two water bottles on the table. The bride had light-brown hair and freckles on a wide, open, pale face, and the groom was in uniform. “They aren’t going to last,” she said. “I can tell.”

The Depressed Person by David Foster Wallace

The depressed person confessed that when whatever supportive friend she was sharing with finally confessed that she (i.e., the friend) was dreadfully sorry but there was no helping it she absolutely had to get off the telephone, and had verbally detached the depressed person’s needy fingers from her pantcuff and returned to the demands of her full, vibrant long-distance life, the depressed person always sat there listening to the empty apian drone of the dial tone feeling even more isolated and inadequate and unempathized-with than she had before she’d called.

Dreams of Bahia by Tendai Huchu

The first and most obvious thing I had to do was visit the widow. It’s a simple truism that all one has to do is to follow the money. She got the insurance, she was getting a mint off the books, so she was first on my list. Her name was Wendy and she appeared on a couple of web pages, doing stuff to commemorate her late husband’s memory. She’d speak at festivals and panels about his work and give audiences a taste of his inner life. Twas modern myth making at its most elemental and it fed the readers, keeping the publicity machine churning, since Masamba couldn’t make an appearance himself.

Tracks by Prashila Naik

They all look at him with respect; he has after all managed to stop a conniving thief all on his own. A few of them pat him on his back. Some young girls too have seen his display of bravado and are busy staring at him with what surreptitiously looks like admiration.

The Mountain Disease by Sumana Roy

Prerna had applied for honours in English literature, choosing political science as her second option. I felt a strange kinship with her, the kind I have often been ridiculed for feeling for incompetent Hindi film actresses from small towns. My sense of victimhood, when it came tied with geography, was terribly prickly and sensitive. And so, I was hunting for an appropriate response to Prerna’s question.

Enrolment by Ajay Patri

Mallikarjun was barely listening to his companion now, trying to imagine what his wife would say when he told her that he would be making another trip to Bangalore in a week. She would throw a fit, blame him and his ambition of becoming a lawyer so late in life. What is wrong with finding some other job that doesn’t need us to spend money, she would ask. He couldn’t even think of what he could possibly tell her.

Trickle by Aravind Jayan

I didn’t yet understand the reason, but it was clear to me there was vitality in it. If someone had asked me then, what I expected to see, I wouldn’t have been able to answer. Of course, I knew there was a reason, but even that was covered in a shroud of shame and confusion. It wasn’t about being a peeping tom. I told myself that I wanted to see something that others weren’t allowed to.

Reckless by Rheea Mukherjee

(Buy short story collection here)

‘Her moral compass frequently warned her that Brahmin girls from good families didn’t behave like this. But with every secret journey to meet him, the urgency of those mental alarms wore out, like ancient stitches from an old blouse.’

Hungry by Rheea Mukherjee

(Buy short story collection here)

‘Mayuri’s voice always sounded sweet to him, but when she asked him questions he couldn’t answer, then she could sound like his crazy aunt Gauriamma, who used to find excuses to beat him as a child. Still, he wanted her. He wanted Mayuri, married, unmarried, a crazy witch, an unstable cruel temptress.’

I think of Interlaken by Tanuj Solanki

I regret having sent her my Pattaya novella. But I should go to Interlaken even if she cancels the invitation. I should find her there and plead my case. My case of what? My case of immortalizing her, maybe. “Don’t judge me, for it is I who has immortalized you,” I should say. “Love me, because I can write about it,” I should add.

The Same Experiment, Again by Tanuj Solanki

She is a rock-climber today. Today I’m a pot-bellied writer. She lives in Interlaken and I live in Bombay. A few days back she asked me to visit her. I said ‘Yes, I will do that in October.’ But it seems I’m not going to. Because I’m a pot-bellied writer and she is a rock climber. A lot happened between us in the past. There was love. But today is today, and today I don’t have her, only these Bombay girls who invite me to their apartments late at night (or who come to mine) so that we can watch a movie together, a movie that I am expected to have downloaded and stored in my hard-drive. These girls do not know anything about rock-climbing, or about movies, but they are reasonably good at installing hard drives.

The Other Transgression by Shom Biswas

‘You have slippers?’

That’s okay. My slippers are always clean.

I feel under my bed with my foot, locate the slippers, and pull them out.

‘Here.’

‘Blue and white Bata? Nice! They still make these?’

She gets off her high heels and puts on the slippers.

The Meeting by Nabina Das

She hears voices behind the little glass window above the shower, close to the ceiling. It is dark outside but the voices are rather clear. She wonders if it is a terrace above and there are people sitting out there who can see inside the bathroom through the layered-glass slides of the window opening, right into the shower.

Registered Post by Annie Zaidi

A local TV crew took up residence outside our house. I refused an interview. I tripped over a tripod. They ran footage of me falling flat on my face.

So far away from home by Kaushik Barua

When you dance, you twist your hand in the air, snapping your wrist. Remember Goa five years ago? Our college reunion, when I saw you after years. I learnt your move too. I should have told you back then. I never did. Now you’re dancing and your guests are spinning madly around you. Why don’t you have a video in the album? He’s beaming into the camera and his grandmother has swept her frail arms around him. Is that a paunch? I still have a flat stomach. I thought I would let you know.

We Didn’t Like Him by Akhil Sharma

When he spoke as if he knew things, I would think, Who are you to talk this way? Because I was eight and cruel, the way children are, I also thought, Why do you think you can talk when you don’t even have a father?

Primum Non Nocere by Antonya Nelson

She was sincere in this gesture. By not withholding anything, she became powerful. By throwing out car keys and credit cards and permission, she insured that they wouldn’t follow through. But it wasn’t a plan, on her part, to outfox them. Had they gone, it would have turned out as she predicted: the man was old and feeble, with children who’d compelled his attention long before Robby and Jewel were born. He was done with fatherhood now; he needed the other side of the equation, the one in which his children owed him, would care for him, would provide cute infants to be his simple objects of affection. He did not need teen-agers.

Oh, Joseph, I’m tired’ by Richard Yates

(From the collection, Liars in Love)

Sloane might know how the Virgin Mary felt on the way to Bethlehem, but she also knew how to play my stutter for laughs.

 

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