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

‘A Life In The Day Of A Writer’ by Tess Slesinger

Slesinger, Tess 1936

A Life In The Day Of A Writer by Tess Slesinger, 1936

The magic trick:

Perfectly capturing the agony a writer feels when an evening appointment is tacked on to an afternoon of blocked creativity

“A Life In The Day Of A Writer” deals in specifics. As such, I’m not sure it will appeal to the majority of readers. If it does speak to you, though, as it spoke to me, I’m sure it will win your heart.

Slesinger positively nails the experience of writer’s block getting punctuated with an evening dinner party. The pressure ratchets up. The weight of unrealized writing becomes unbearable. The anger. The stress. The idea of a dinner party seems absurd. The thought of having to be “on,” making pleasant conversation with people when your mind is still lost in the frustrations of the afternoon is overwhelming. That’s a pain I know very well, as I’m sure many people do. The whole experience is here in this story, perfectly laid out. And that’s quite a trick on Slesinger’s part.

The selection:

Still, when you have accepted an invitation to a party for the afternoon, you have that to think about, to hold over your typewriter’s head, you can think of how you will lock it up at half-past four and shave and shower and go out with a collar and a tie around your neck to show people that you can look, talk, drink, like any of them, like the worst of them. But a party! Christ, the faces, the crowds of white faces (like the white keys of the typewriter I had before you, my fine Underwood), and worst of all, the voices…. The party became abnormally enlarged in his mind, as though it would take every ounce of ingenious conniving – not to speak of courage! – to get to it at all; and as he fell face downward on his typewrite, he gave more thought to the party than even the party’s host was likely to do, Freddie, whoever the devil “Freddie” was…