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Short stories

Blasphemy cover by Sherman Alexie
Summer 2013

Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories

Blasphemy-Alexie

 

Sherman Alexie ’94
Grove Press, 2012

Most writers’ volumes of “new and selected” stories add only two or three new pieces to twenty or thirty old ones. More than half of Sherman Alexie’s Blasphemy is new, however, including a few lengthy stories. The success of Alexie’s teen novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian seems to have invigorated his short stories, and readers who regard them as his best work will be … » More …

Summer 2011

The Lady Who Kept Things

There was once a small, plump, good-natured lady who lived in a great old house with a cantankerous husband named Harold. She was about the best mate a man could have and he was about the worst mate anything could have.

The lady, whose name was Emma, had a peculiar habit, however, and that was that she never threw anything away. Her closets bulged with heaps of clothes and stacks of magazines and balls of string and boxes of buttons— in short, just about anything that had ever entered into the life of Emma was still there someplace, boxed or bundled up in the great … » More …

Summer 2011

The Perfect Hunt

Nearing total exhaustion from my janitorial labors, I plopped my 19-year-old bones down in the cushy leather office chair of Dr. Seymour Slick, Dean of Science. Had I been of a thoughtful nature, I might at that moment have reflected that the way of life I so desperately clung to no longer existed for me. I was now a student and a janitor at a university. That other life was gone. Vanished. Evaporated. Had being in denial existed back then, I would have been a classic case. I simply couldn’t believe that my former life had slipped away like a thief in the night, taking … » More …

Short Story: Where the Lilacs Grow

From On Her Way: Stories and Poems About Growing Up Girl, edited by Sandy Asher (New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Sister Paris’s roses smelled like poison. My nose was just inches away from an orange Tropicana as big as Kenny Royal’s fist, and all I could smell were chemicals. Not even a whiff of tea rose. Nana’s roses had always smelled like roses-all luscious and sweet, almost ticklish. They’d grown in curved rows along the south side of the house, where the sunshine warmed away the dew and dried up the black spot that ate away at … » More …

Spring 2009

White Jade and Other Stories

The seven stories in this collection are delightful. Sometimes funny and even perverse, they show an extravagant imagination, and a very sharp political perspective deepened by their concern for how wars and historical dislocations jam people into corners from which it sometimes takes generations to escape. The novella which follows them, White Jade, has a distinctly different tone and is a marvelous adventure in “autobiography.”It is more like a channeling or act of loving reconstitution of a deceased mother’s voice than anything like a memoir or confession or any of those other autobiographical modes which flaunt the author’s ego.

Two of the stories, Chink Food» More …

Summer 2003

Smoke Follows Beauty

There’s a scene in “The Kanasket Chicken Killings” that illuminates a great deal of what Brian Ames (’85 Political Science) is up to in his collection of short stories, Smoke Follows Beauty. As he’s replacing the camshaft of a road grader, mechanic Henri DeLaat, trying to make sense out of what’s been happening on his farm, reduces the confusing events he’s been living through to a mathematical formula: “A, there are chickens going missing. B, it is probably the work of coyotes. C, coyotes can be stopped. D, how? A plus B plus C equals D, a simple equation.” Immediately, he drops a bolt into … » More …

Winter 2005

Head Full of Traffic

If his two latest short story collections are indicative, Brian Ames ’85 is a prolific writer of unsettling talent. Releasing both Head Full of Traffic and Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless in 2004, Ames packs 22-plus pieces into each collection. Granted, many of the works run only a few pages long, but these are stories brief only in word length.

In Head Full of Traffic, ostensibly labeled a collection of horror pieces, Ames skillfully adds his own flair to the genre. In “Carnival,” a crazed carnie imagines an apocalyptic Midway. “Weeb staggers away from the Fun House, swivels that cornpone head when he hears … » More …

Winter 2005

Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless

If his two latest short story collections are indicative, Brian Ames ’85 is a prolific writer of unsettling talent. Releasing both Head Full of Traffic and Eighty-Sixed: A Compendium of the Hapless in 2004, Ames packs 22-plus pieces into each collection. Granted, many of the works run only a few pages long, but these are stories brief only in word length. Rich language and dense atmospheres are Ames’s literary tools, and he manages to convey entire tableaus in single sentences. “He doesn’t fully comprehend meter or rhythm, only understands the voltage through his cortex, manifested in sudden spastic knee bouncing, rapid articulation, back and forth, … » More …

Spring 2002

The Peking Cowboy

A short story by Alex Kuo; illustrations by David Wheeler. He wanted to tell the story in the third person, but it came out in the first; he wanted to tell it in the past, but it came out happening in the now; even if he wanted to, he could not change a word of it, its sequence and language clarifying its own shape and direction in his voice. » More ...