Hammer & sickle – I’m pretty sure this is my favorite DiLillo Story. Clearly written in the early days of the Great Recession, when all the secrets and bad practices of the wealthiest people began to come out, countries were failing, and nobody knew where it all was heading. This story is about a minimum security prison camp that is housing some of the people who caused the economic collapse. Meanwhile the narrorator (one of the prisoners) watches a tv show with the other inmates that has kids reporting on world news. The kids also happen to be his kids, though he doesn’t share this with too many people.
Happy Hour – another, though less memorable, story from Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son.” There is a brief, and too me kind of sad scene where a girl sells the narrator a pill for 3 dollars, because she needs the money. The guy asks if it’s a horse pill because it’s so big and she explains that they give horses medicine through a sticky past. Other than that I don’t remember much about the story, but there is not a whole lot more then that conversation in the story anyways.
Harvy’s Dream – I don’t really remember having read this story before, though I think I have. I’m not sure why I forgot it, because it’s pretty good. It’s about a late middle age couple that’s falling out of love after so many years, and one morning the man is actually downstairs in his chair at the diningroom table, and tells his wife about a strange dream he’s had. She says that when you tell a dream it doesn’t come true, but halfway through the retelling she relizes that it was the other way around. I don’t know too much about this superstition one way or another. Personally my dreams are usually too bizarre to even describe.
Haven – Another Munro story, this one about a young girl who goes off to live with her semi-concervitive aunt and uncle as a teenager while her free-spritied parents go to Ghana to do missionary work with the Unitarian Church. The centerpiece episode of the story is when the uncles sister is invited by the aunt to play a privet concert for the aunt and some guests she is entertaining, while the uncle is supposed to not be home, which as you can imagine doesn’t quite work out as planned.
Head down – this is actually a long non-fiction that I believe was published originally in the New Yorker, by Stephen King, and about (of all topics) Little League Baseball. This is one of those stories (using the term loosly of course) that really shows just how good of a writer King is. I was never in Little League as a kid, and generally had nothing to do with sports at all, and as a grown-up I have almost zero interest in sports. However, this story made me interested, or at the very least it kept my attention, and made me feel as though I was on the team with those kids. If he was writing on one of any number of topics I am interested in, it would be one thing to keep my interest, but doing this with a topic I have no interest in, that is the mark of a superior writer.
Here and there – One of the stories from DFW’s “Girl with Curious Hair” Collection, which as I may have mentioned before (or maybe not) is his worst collection, and the stories are hit and miss. This is one of the misses, and it suffers from one major problem that is not nessisarily the writers fault. The story is about a college relationship that falls apart, and the story is related to the reader by both members of this relationship at the same time. The problem her is there is very little indication as to who’s talking at what point, and the reader (this story read not by Petcoff but by Joshua Swanson) does not do a good job making a distinct voice for either character. could they have just hired a female reader to read the girls parts of this story? It would have been so much easy to follow if they had. Any audiobook fan will tell you the reader makes or brakes the book, and this is one of those “brake” cases.
Here We Are – after reading it four times, I’ve decided that I hate this story.
Hired Girl – another story from Monro’s “The View from Castlerock” about her working as a maid for some rich family during the end of WWII. It reads just like any of her other stories, though nothing particularly stands out to make this one of the better ones.
The Hitch-Hikers – I’ve also desided that I hate this story too. I’ve read it a number of times and still cannot figure out what it’s about. That’s a big problem.
Home – a story by Alice Munro, I don’t really remember this one specifically so I must not have liked it all that much.
Home delivery – and so we finally get to my favorite story from my favorite Stephen King collection, and maybe or maybe not my favorite Stephen King story of them all (I’d have to do some more thinking about that) the one problem is that in discussing the story I’ll have to give away a lot of what happens, and because the twisting path the plot follows this might take away from part of what makes the story so great, so you have been warned. Spoiler Warning. This story is about a pregnant woman who has recently lost her husband in a professional fishing accident (meaning that finishing, technically catching lobsters, was his profession and the accident occurred at work and not at play), mean while the earth is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse caused by an asteroid of alien worms. The story, as I’m sure you could imagine, kind of goes all over the place, its warm and sweet at times and funny at other times. The story ends where it begins but takes you to every point in between. If you read nothing else by Stephen King, read this one.
Homeland – I don’t quite care for this story. I know little else by Barbara Kingsolver, and plan to read nothing else by her because of this flat story. its about an old woman who goes with her children and grand children back to where she grew up to visit. I’m sure the story might have had sentimental value to the writer, but that feeling is not passed along to the reader. Not to mention that it’s a lot longer than it needs to be.
Honey Pie – this is the longest, and probably most significant story from Hiruki Murakami’s collection “after the quake” (which for some reason is intentionally left uncapitalized in the English translation).
The Horse of Bronze – another Harry Turtledove story, this one is not so much an alturnitive history but a retelling of “The Odyssey” from the point of view of Centaurs, at least for the first half anyways. Instead of returning home from war, they set sail to “the Tin Isles” to find what has stopped their supply. Once they reach the Tin Isles they find a strange but somehow familiar creature. It’s a long story but good, it reads more like a novel with all the small episodes and events, I believe it is the longest story in the “Atlantis and Other Places” collection, though “The Diamond” might be slightly longer.
Hot Potting – this is not an easy story to read. there’s a lot of small tableaux about people getting burned by the hot springs in an area similar to Yellowstone National Park, these all serve as dressing for a center piece story about an ultra-relgious young man and a woman who worked with him at the lodge (who is also the narrator). Though this is a tough one to read thanks to the detailed nature, if you can make it through, it is a good story to showcase how to write a very good short story. Palahunick, though being quite terrible in his later years and having only produced one collection of stories, is, in my opinion, truly a master at the art. So Chuck, if your reading this, stop writing those awful novels and get back to the story, please, maybe a sequil to “Haunted,” or maybe something else, just show us why we like you again.
The House on Maple Street – at last count this is one of two stories by Stephen King that has been inspired by a picture, the other (Road Virus Heads North) I don’t believe is in my audio story anthology, though if it is we won’t be getting to it that soon. The picture that inspired this particular story comes from one of my all time favorite kids books, Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.” Allsburg is an extraordinary artist, his book is composed of a dosen generally unrelated illustration, each accompanied with a title and a sentence. The intention is specifically for children (and accasionally adult) writers to write stories based on the pictures. Once I have my new room set up Harris Burdick will be one of the two books to be displayed cover out. Most Editions of Nightmares and Dreamscapes comes with the picture at the end of the story. It’s a good one, and one of, if not then, first stories I’ve read from the collection. Read it for yourself is you want to see what it’s about, or check out the picture for yourself and guess what it should be about. I wrote one story based on the book, perhaps I should write a suite of stories about the book, and a suite of music to boot.
How to Win – this is another story from the BASS Century collection, not particularly my favorite, though I can see why it’s selected as one of the best. The story is about a woman dealing with the difficulties in raising some kind of special needs child. She (the narrator nor the author) doesn’t directly say what problem with the child is, but I would guess some kind of autism, he seems to be more of the violent nature and the teachers that are “helping” him in school are also violent in the way they help. The story was published in 1975 so I’m sure the methods of handling these children were not as enlightened as they are today.
Human Moments in World War III – I like this story a lot even though I barely understand it. Unlike a lot of other stories that are on this list that I don’t understand, this one I’d like to read over and over again until I do understand it better, the reading is spectacular and the words and sentence structure are beautiful. This is the third time I’ve read this story (I believe) and I noticed this time around that the war in question has lost the public intrest because it has dragged on into its third week. That’s a pretty interesting statement to make it speaks volumes as to what this story might actually be about. I think it may be worth a few more reads and a substantially sized essay.
A Hungry Artist – and now we get to the one and only Franz Kafka story in the anthology. No I am not a fan of his, and I believe this is the only thing of his I have read at this point and since I don’t like this story all that much it’s unlikely I’ll read anything else by him any time soon. They tried to teach us this story in high school, first in 10th grade English I think, and then again in German 1 or 2. It may not have been the best idea since this story seems to be well beyond what high school students are able to understand, this is considerably beyond what I understand myself, or perhaps it use to be. I never really realized before this reading just how sad the story is, especially with it’s finally scene at the circus. Why are circus stories so sad? Has anyone ever made a happy circus story? Maybe it’s up to me, a story where the side the circus shows to the crowed is the more tame less zainy side of the circus. Anyways, the story also leads to the question that I don’t think was ever asked or explained in either class we took on the story, is a Hunger Artist a real thing, was it, or was it something completely made up by Kafka. Also there are noticeable similarities to those weird stunts pulled by David Blain in more recent times.