Today I have two short stories to share, both of which are from the Spring 2009 Paris Review, my newest obsession.
The Hollows, James Lasdu (#7, 11 pages)
The Hollows is the story of Rick Parker told through the point of view of his long-term neighbor. The neighbor is a passive observer, although he has interactions with Rick, which serve characterization, he is not active part of Rick's overall story. Rick is a hard working rural laborer. He meets Faye, a somewhat disinterested mother of two, and eventually has children with her and marries her. Not long after, Faye runs off with the father of her first children. Rick's job performance and personality take a deep nose dive, and others are left with the consequences.
The overall tone of this story was subdued and reflective, but tense with meaning. Here's an example:
And by the same token I go back to the look on Faye's face at their wedding and find in it, beyond the general sadness, the specific expression of a person observing that nothing after all, not even the charm of one's own wedding day, is powerful enough to purge the past or stop its taint from spreading into the future.I definitely recommend this story. It is available online here.
At the Zoo, Caitlin Horrocks (#8, 10 pages)
I really really enjoyed this story. It is centered around a family trip to the zoo. The mother is a busy patent lawyer taking time off to accompany her son and her father to the zoo. The story fades in and out of the present trip, her past with her father, and a bizarre patent client who believes he has created a time machine. The story focuses on the relationship between the mother and the boy's grandfather: the grandfather has a callous outward manner, but is acting with good intentions; the mother tries to deal with the father she perceives to be harsh and to protect her son from him; the son is simply exploring the world around him and is learning from his grandfather and mothers actions. The time machine story line brings the present to light through the family's history and underscores the ingrained misunderstandings.
I highly recommend this story. It is available online here.