July 2014 favorites

july2014

July 2014

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

1.       ‘Hot Ice’ by Stuart Dybek
2.       ‘The Babysitter’ by Robert Coover
3.       ‘Jeeves And The Impending Doom’ by P.G. Wodehouse
4.       ‘A Solo Song: For Doc’ by James Alan McPherson
5.       ‘City Boy’ by Leonard Michaels
6.       ‘You’re Ugly, Too’ by Lorrie Moore
7.       ‘The Flats Road’ by Alice Munro
8.       ‘Greasy Lake’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
9.       ‘Train’ by Joy Williams
10.     ‘Testimony Of Pilot’ by Barry Hannah
11.     ‘The Joy Luck Club’ by Amy Tan
12.    ‘Liars In Love’ by Richard Yates
13.     ‘How To Date A Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, Or Halfie)’ by Junot Diaz
14.    ‘A Poetics For Bullies’ by Stanley Elkin
15.     ‘Greenwich Time’ by Ann Beattie
16.     ‘Pretty Ice’ by Mary Robison
17.     ‘Lechery’ by Jayne Anne Phillips
18.     ‘Here Come The Maples’ by John Updike
19.     ‘Territory’ by David Leavitt
20.     ‘Bridging’ by Max Apple
21.     ‘The Circling Hand’ by Jamaica Kincaid
22.     ‘Are These Actual Miles?’ by Raymond Carver
23.     ‘The Other Wife’ by Colette
24.     ‘A.V. Laider’ by Max Beerbohm
25.     ‘White Rat’ by Gayl Jones
26.     ‘Search Through The Streets Of The City’ by Irwin Shaw
27.     ‘The Dead Man’ by Horacio Quiroga
28.     ‘A Life In The Day Of A Writer’ by Tess Slesinger
29.     ‘In The Heart Of The Heart Of The Country’ by William Gass
30.     ‘The Indian Uprising’ by Donald Barthelme
31.     ‘The Facts Of Life’ by Somerset Maugham

‘The Joy Luck Club’ by Amy Tan

Tan, Amy 1990

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, 1989

The magic trick:

Establishing a high emotional pitch with the mothers backstory

I love the way Tan weaves the past and the present through this story, including both the narrator’s memories and those of the narrator’s mother. It works perfectly to present the difficulties – both generational and cultural – the narrator finds as she tries to identify with her mother.

The centerpiece is the narrator’s mother’s story about escaping war-torn China. It is a harrowing tale – equal parts inspiring and horrific. No wonder, the reader can’t help but think, this woman struggles to connect with her mother. Who could truly understand an experience like that?

The backstory honors the real-life Chinese refuge experience, providing important information and connections to a Western audience. Meanwhile, and more to the literary point, it establishes the emotional backdrop on which the narrator’s personal journey through the remainder of “The Joy Luck Club” is painted. And that’s quite a trick on Tan’s part.

The selection:

“Along the way, I saw others had done the same, gradually given up hope. It was like a pathway inlaid with treasures that grew in value along the way. Bolts of fine fabric and books. Paintings of ancestors and carpenter tools. Until one could see cages of ducklings now quiet with thirst and, later still, silver urns lying in the road, where people had been too tired to carry them for any kind of future hope. By the time I arrived in Chungking I had lost everything except for three fancy dresses which I wore one on top of the other.”

“What do you mean by ‘everything’?” I gasped at the end. I was stunned to realize the story had been true all along. “What happened to the babies?”