July 2014 favorites


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


‘White Rat’ by Gayl Jones

jones, gayl 1971

White Rat by Gayl Jones, 1971

The magic trick:

Using a story within a story to put forth the main theme

To tell the truth, I don’t totally know what to make of this story. I know it makes me incredibly sad. Jones paints a depressing picture of all-encompassing ignorance when it comes to southern race relations and racial identity. The most memorable single element of the story, for me, is the anecdote the narrator relates about a time he was arrested with some black friends. He is put in the jail cell for white men because his skin and features evidently appear to be those of a white man even though he claims African lineage. He presents the recollection as a lark, a funny memory. But the whole thing is just very sad – a heartbreaking sketch of a man and an indictment of a society in one. And that’s quite a trick on Jones’s part.

The selection:

Cov’ton just standing there grinning, and don’t say nothing. I don’t say nothing. I’m just waiting. Grandy ask, “Cov’, where Rat?” Sometime she just call me Rat and leave the “White” off. Cov’ say, “They put him in the cage with the white men.” Crab Face standing there looking funny now. His back to me, but I figure he looking funny now. Grandy says, “Take me to my other boy, I want to see my other boy.” I don’t think Crab Face want her to know he thought I was white so he don’t say nothing. She just standing there looking up at him cause he tall and fat and she short and fat. Crab Face finally say, “I put him in a cell by hisself cause he started a rucus.” He point over to me, and she turn and see me and frown.