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

‘Pretty Ice’ by Mary Robison

Robison, Mary 1977

Pretty Ice by Mary Robison, 1977

The magic trick:

Using the setting as a metaphor

The title should be the first clue. Robison is using the ice storm in this story to represent a larger idea. Early in the story, the narrator is restless and indecisive. The ice is treacherous. “My yard was a frozen pond, and I was careful on the walkway,” she writes. By story’s end, she has made a decision. The ice is no longer a metaphor for caution or danger. The narrator notes a skater navigating a frozen pond “skating backwards, expertly crossing his blades.” Of course, we should mention as a nice aside, the narrator’s mother knew all along to view the ice only as a good thing.

Substantively, the setting never changes. It is the narrator’s perception that alters the way the winter weather is represented. And that’s quite a trick on Robison’s part.

The selection:

“There’s no hurry,” my mother said.

“How do you mean?” I asked her.

“To get William to the motel,” she said. “I know everybody complains, but I think an ice storm is a beautiful thing. Let’s enjoy it.”

She waved her cigarette at the windshield. The sun had burned through and was gleaming in the branches of all the maples and buckeye trees in the park. “It’s twinkling like a stage set,” Mother said.