‘Tis Short Story Month

During this lovely autumn month (or at least some thirty days beginning on October 4th), I will read a short story that I’ve never before read and then publish a post about it. A different author every day. A different post each day. Or every other day.

The idea for this project emerged the way that all great ideas emerge—wholly by accident. Trying to find the words to write the SEO snippet for Consumption: September 2020 the phrase “short story month” uttered itself. This seemed apposite since I’d read George Saunders’ CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and large parts of Ted Chiang’s Exhalation during that period.

But. Idea.

Therefore, a real “short story month.” Apparently May is short story month. But not around here.

October 4th
1. Ted Chiang, “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling” From Exhalation.

October 5th
2. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Attorney” From Deutsche Erzählungen/German Stories: A Bilingual Anthology,

October 6th
3. Johann Peter Hebel, “An Unexpected Reunion”

October 7th
4. E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Don Juan”

October 8th
5. Natalia Ginzburg, “The Mother” From The Art of the Tale.
6. Donald Barthelme, “Cortés and Montezuma”: Some ears for your poems.

Natalia Ginzburg, short story writer
Natalia Ginzburg

October 9th
7. James Baldwin, “Going to Meet the Man”: How a young Southern boy experiences his first lynching and the picnic it occasions.

October 10th
8. William Trevor, “Beyond the Pale”

October 11th
8. William Trevor, “Beyond the Pale” (zweimal)
9. Michel Tournier, “Death and the Maiden”: A quirky French girl ceaselessy approaches death, in the guises of a hanging rope, a pistol, and poisonous mushrooms.

October 12th
10. T. Coraghessan Boyle, “Greasy Lake”: An amusing anecdote about some bougie college boys who get in their first fight.
11. Wolfgang Borchert, “Do Stay, Giraffe”: If there’s sense here …

October 13th
12. Chiang, “Omphalos”: Using science to testify to divine grace.

October 14th
12. Chiang, “Omphalos”

October 15th
13. Gottfried Keller, “The Little Dance Legend”

October 16th
14. Ted Chiang, “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom,” half

Short story writer of exile, Ingeborg Bachmann
Writer of exile, like Anna Seghers, Ingeborg Bachmann

October 17th
14. Chiang, “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom,” finished
15. Fontane, “A Lady of My Years,” half (German and English translation)

October 18th
15. Fontane, “A Lady of My Years,” finished

October 19th
11. Wolfgang Borchert, “Do Stay, Giraffe”

October 20th
16. Arthur Schnitzer, “Blind Geronimo and His Brother”

October 23rd
17. Thomas Mann, “A Difficult Hour”

October 24th
18. Julio Cortázar, “Bestiary”

October 25th
19. Ingeborg Bachmann, “Everything”: This is a wonderful story. One that haunts each parent, although I suspect no parent would voluntarily identify with the narrator.

October 26th
20. Franz Kafka, “The Knock at the Manor House” and “Before the Law” (this doesn’t count because I’ve read it before, numerous times)

October 28th
19. Ingeborg Bachmann, “Everything”: A second read
Kafka, “A Commentary,” and “A Little Fable”: Not sure why I’m not counting these, but they seem not to fit

October 29th
21. Chinua Achebe, “The Sacrificial Egg”
22. Ilsa Aisinger, “The Bound Man”: Circus stories fill me with an unease that I could hardly explain. I love La Strada, but that is a film.

October 30th
23. Heinrich Böll, “The Railway Station at Zimpern”

November 1st (remember that I didn’t begin this until the 4th)
24. Alain Robbe-Grillet, “The Replacement”
25. Mercè Rodoredo, “Rain”
26. Nathalie Sarraute, “XXII”: …
27. Jean Stafford, “Children Are Bored On Sunday”

November 3rd
28. Yasunari Kawabata, “One Arm”: Takashi Miike would really enjoy this story.

Photograph of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata, short story writer
Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata

November 4th
29. Milan Kundera, “Let the Old Dead Make Room for the Young Dead”: I have read practically no Kundera, which is a faux pas in scope of the same magnitude to that of my inadequate reading of Dostoevsky (I’ve only read Crime and Punishment). It’s hard to feel bad about it, though. There are so many other things to read.

Short Story Month is officially over, as of November 5th, 2020.