Destination: Louisiana

Hello, hello readers.

We’re moving on (swiftly, I hope) on to our next destination. We’ve made it to Louisiana and in lieu of facts or trivia I want to share another story with you guys.

Louisiana

This is actually one of my favorites short and sweet, I always enjoy reading it. Hate the ending, to death. Terrible pun intended. I’m talking about Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour. If you haven’t read it, it’s about how a wife reacts when she learns her husband died. If you haven’t, click on the link and read it so I don’t spoil for you. It’s really short, I promise!

I get this lady. She felt tied to a man she loved at one point, but no longer. And suddenly, she was free of that marital cage. Suddenly she was free to be an individual again, escaping the bonds of coupledom in favor of leading a life with her as the only priority. Granted, this freedom came at a steep price, but there really weren’t that many options were there? Death was better than divorce at this point.

And die is exactly what she did, when she saw her husband walk through the door. A joy that kills they said, but we know the truth. She died from the soul crushing realization that her freedom lasted all of a minute, possibly two. She died with the sound of locking cuffs and the weight of chains pulling her down. It’s pretty sad when you think about finally feeling like you have a chance and having it all taken away.

There’s something beautiful about suddenly feeling that free. Like the chains suddenly disintegrate and you’re free to stretch to your full height for the first time in years. It’s like finally walking out of the cave to stare at the sun – blinding and painful, but thrillingly bright. I think time and time again we limit ourselves in order not to hurt those around us, not to feel like we’re abandoning them. The reality though, is that staying still for someone else isn’t fair to anyone involved.

Every time I travel and my mother asks why I’m leaving her, I have to remember getting on that plane is something I have to do for myself. I know people who have postponed or full on cancelled plans for grad school because they can’t bear to leave their parents. At some point, you have to admit this whole overflowing with concern and affection is actually fear. Fear of being alone, of failing, of not being up to whatever task is in front of you. It’s easier to hide behind a veneer of devotion than accept you’ve peed your pants twice thinking of what’s next.

Settling down and settling in just so we don’t disturb everyone isn’t an option. Neither is dying out of frustration. Really, the only option, is to get up and go. Do whatever it is you feel needs to be done. In time your family/friends/significant others/whatever will understand, they might even be proud of you for taking the risk. I can guarantee you’ll at least be proud of yourself.

I’ll be proud of you, if that helps. I’m probably a figment of your imagination, so it probably doesn’t. Still.

You do you, readers. Until next time!

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SST Presents Saki

Hello, readers.

The day is looking remarkably drab, almost fashionably so. It’s making a statement by wearing understated gray clouds. It’s trendy as fuck.

Laura

by Saki

This is how today’s story begins:

“You are not really dying, are you?” asked Amanda.

“I have the doctor’s permission to live till Tuesday,” said Laura.

“But to-day is Saturday; this is serious!” gasped Amanda.

“I don’t know about it being serious; it is certainly Saturday,” said Laura.

This Laura character is amusing as hell. Faced with her imminent she’s contemplating her reincarnation as an otter with “an elegant svelte figure”. Apparently she hasn’t always been a good or even decent human being so, of course, she’s getting demoted to an animal. This chick is over life, the universe, and everything. Especially Amanda’s husband Egbert, who just sounds annoying as hell. Anyway, Laura dies, but she comes back to get her revenge on fussy, whiny Egbert. It’s great. One of those things where you’re reading and chuckling quietly to yourself.

Now, Laura’s a bit of a dick. I know that. You’ll know it if you read the story. But, when life gives you shitty people sometimes all you can do is destroy their flowerbeds and kill their prized hens. We get so caught up in playing nice with people and end up surrounded by assholes. One day you wake up and your friends are people you kinda hate.  Maybe all that being nice is getting us nowhere. Maybe we need to start removing toxic, unnecessary people from our lives and exacting a little payment along the way. Maybe it’s time to murder these people’s chickens, so to speak. #DIYKarma

All I’m saying is sometimes we should delete people from our lives the way we delete them from Facebook. And with just as much relish. 

Have a good one, readers. Until next time!

SST Presents Crane

Short Story Thursdays is a weekly dispatch. Every week you get little known stories in PDF format, accompanied by a short intro and commentary by the guy who runs the whole thing.I started this series called “SST Presents”, so named because that’s the subject title on the emails, to share those stories with you. If you’d like to subscribe, send an email to shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com

You guys.

This week has been a shit show. Seriously. I’m waiting to hear whether I’ve been admitted into grad school. Casually watching the mailman’s every move. Checking the mailbox multiple times a day. They say a watched mailbox never gets any mail, but what do people know anyway? I’m sure if I stare at it long enough shit will happen. Mail will magically appear. Only to tell me I have actually not been accepted, but thanks for trying. Kloveyoubai.

A Mystery of Heroism

by Stephen Crane

This week’s dispatch of SST is all about death and war and something about being thirstily irrational or getting the fuck out of the garrison. It fits in perfectly with this disaster of a week. And the rain. And the humidity. And my generalized dislike of everything.

The story is about a guy, let’s call him Fred Collins because that’s his name, who realizes he’s thirsty and decides to get some water. The problem is they’re in the middle of a war. And the well is in this meadow which has become a battle field. But whatever, he’s thirsty, people are jeering and mocking, and all peer-pressured he gets moving towards the well.

When Collins faced the meadow and walked away from the regiment, he was vaguely conscious that a chasm, the deep valley of all prides, was suddenly between him and his comrades. It was provisional, but the provision was that he return as a victor. He had blindly been led by quaint emotions, and laid himself under an obligation to walk squarely up to the face of death. But he was not sure that he wished to make a retraction, even if he could do so without shame. As a matter of truth, he was sure of very little. He was mainly surprised.

I totally get this guy. Haven’t you ever suddenly found yourselves in a situation without quite knowing how you got there? Except, everyone seems to know what they’re doing and they seem to expect you to know too. You’re just there, making shit up as you go because what else can you do, really? That’s life. I think. Stumbling around blindly and kind of getting things right until someone comes around and knocks your damned bucket over.

Don’t spill other people’s buckets, guys. It’s not cool.

Until next time, readers.

SST Presents Coppee

Short Story Thursdays is a weekly dispatch. Every week you get little known stories in PDF format, accompanied by a short intro and commentary by the guy who runs the whole thing.I started this series called “SST Presents”, so named because that’s the subject title on the emails, to share those stories with you. If you’d like to subscribe, send an email to shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com

Good evening, readers.

Thursday has come at a weird angle for me. Nothing inherently wrong or bad has happened, but nothing has quite gone right either. It was a series of mildly unfortunate events. It’s left me in a weird mood where I’m not upset in any way, but I’m not happy or at ease. Today has been like being out of synch with the world, like watching a bad video where people’s mouths move before the audio comes through.

An Accident

by Françoise Coppee

Today’s SST dispatch came with undertones of sadness and maybe a sort of angst that I can readily identify with today. After reading the email, I was ready to be heartbroken by this story and I wasn’t disappointed. I was nearly in tears after reading today’s story, maybe just a single tear fueled by a kind of ache for this man who just wanted to love someone else. A man who knew he wasn’t pretty and was willing to wait for a woman to love him in time. Who sought pardon for his mistakes, but only with minor regret knowing she would be happier.

This story is a confession within a confession. This priest who presides over a lonely, little frequented parish finally finds himself with a penitent. After only hearing “the uninteresting confessions of some good women”, he’s surprised to find a man waiting to confess his sins. Let me tell you, this is not an uninteresting confession, although I think he was a good man.

I feel so sad for his lot in life, I can’t even bring myself to condemn him for his actions. There’s a certain beauty in his pain, devoted as he was to a woman who left him for someone else. A woman he stayed close to, whose child he loved, who he helped throughout the years with the little money he had.

For some reason the image I have in my head is of a human version of Eeyore. I picture this guy humble, eyes sad with old pain, but not weighed down by it, a kind of peaceful acceptance of what his life was. And maybe I’m projecting, maybe I’m remaking this fictional man in my sadness’ image. I’m okay with that.

The guy who writes the emails was asking himself why hurting could feel good, that ability to find comfort in pain. I think feeling and accepting someone else’s pain helps ease our own. Those knots in our soul that we can’t quite figure out or give voice to, come undone when we let ourselves ache. Even if it’s for a fictional character. The pain is still there, but it becomes more bearable, maybe easier to work through. I don’t know. But I do feel a bit better now, so maybe there’s something to it after all.

Gentle reminder to subscribe to SST. The stories are solid, the dispatches are usually funny, sometimes serious like the one for today, but always a pleasure to read. I’m not getting paid for this. There’s no affiliation to SST. I just really like the concept and I think the stories they send are worth reading and sharing. So, subscribe. It’s free. Do it. Ok, maybe not so gentle.

Have a good one, readers. Until next time.

SST Presents A. E. Coppard

Hello, readers!

This is the first official post in the “SST Presents” series, so named because that’s the tittle of the weekly Short Story Thursdays dispatch. If you want to know about SST or how this series came to be, check out the introductory post I wrote last week.

Broadsheet Ballad

by A. E. Coppard

This week’s story revolves around two men who go into a tavern for dinner, but it starts raining while they eat and they decide to wait it out with beer. As the room dims and cools they get to talking about this guy who’s about to get hanged. Did he do it? Did he not? One of them pipes up with a story about murder and pregnancy and general thrills in a small town. And I can’t help, but think of small towns here, of gossip in general.

That characteristic “did you hear what happened to….?”. The small gasp, the sudden lighting of the eyes, the do tell and please, go on as people gather tidbits of other’s lives. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter whether you know the person or not, you trust it to be true because it happened to someone in their family or to a friend or perhaps a friend’s family member. Even through the degrees of separation there’s still that small bit of titillation at being privy to someone else’s secrets.

Reading this story is a bit like that. The surprise at finding out what he did, the shocked gasp when you realize what she did. And in the end you lean back and think, “man, people do some crazy shit”.

Have a good one, readers.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Short Story Thursdays, send an email to Jacob Tomsky at shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com

Introducing Short Story Thursdays

Hello, readers!

I realized that most of what I talked about on here were novels, with one or two short story collections thrown in. And I wanted to remedy that.

I’ve been subscribed to the Short Story Thursdays emails for about 2 years now. Every week you receive little known stories in PDF format, accompanied by a short intro and commentary by the guy who runs the whole thing. Here’s a video describing the organization a bit more.

My experience with it has been pretty great, because you get access to stories that you otherwise never would’ve read. So, I decided to share those stories with you, or at least my thoughts on them. With that in mind I’m starting a new series called “SST Presents”, so named because that’s the subject title on the weekly dispatches.

The plan was to start in on the stories today, but I decided to give you a little info on the whole thing before hand and give you guys the chance to subscribe. That way you have the story by the time I’ve posted something. You can read both, maybe. If you’re into that. And you should be, because how hot is that? This all took a weird turn.

This is all in the video, but I’m going to go ahead and repeat it. If you’d like to subscribe (and you really should), all you have to do is send an email to shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com. It’s simple. It’s painless. You get story deliveries. Really, there’s no reason not to.

Subscribe, be merry, and I’ll see you tomorrow for (another new series!) Friday Night Movies!

In the Break Room: Karin Tidbeck’s Jagganath

Hello, readers!

Sorry for the disappearing act. Sometimes you have to take a break and focus on other things. Like how the Statistics course you’re taking might be the only thing standing between you and graduate school. Like how sometimes things just really need to change. Not because they’re bad, but because sometimes things need to change in order to be better. Through it all though, you read because what else are you going to do, right?

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I’ve been reading a few things in the last two weeks. One of them was Jagganath by Karin Tidbeck. It’s a short story anthology that came out a few years ago, usually filed under creepy/horror. And let me tell you, it delivers!

It’s completely laced with that ethereal, magical beauty I equate with Scandinavian fairy lore. I would go as far as describing it as eerily seductive. Tidbeck makes you feel at home in the viscous weirdness that make up its sentences. The stories are unexpected, always a welcome departure from predictability. Fantastic creatures casually roam its pages. They share with the reader a feeling of normalcy in the face of the strange, humanity in the oddest of places.

I’m absolutely smitten with this short story collection. It’s the kind of book you want to share with everyone you’ve ever met. It’s strange and fantastic, full of haunting yet tender stories that stay with you. Absolutely beautiful.

If you ever listen to anything I say and I do mean EVER, read these stories. It is very likely you’ll enjoy yourself. Just saying.

Until next time, readers!