I’ve completed stories 50 through 58 this week. The first two were in The New Yorker magazine. (Click on the titles below to read them online.) The next seven come from the book Speaking with the Angel, which was put together by Nick Hornby. Hornby’s son is autistic and able to go to a wonderful school in Britain. Hornby asked some of his fellow authors to contribute to this collection, with the proceeds going to provide funds for other autistic children to attend the same school. As with any short story collection, my enjoyment has been hit and miss, enjoying some, while others were just okay.
50. “A Tiny Feast” by Chris Adrian. Oberon and Titania’s changeling child contracts leukemia, and the fairy royals are forced to deal with the mortal medical system, and the realities of loving a mortal child. Unique idea, and very well-written. 4 out of 5 stars.
51. “Visitation” by Brad Watson. This story takes place during one weekend, in which a divorced father has his visitation weekend with his son. Because the father lives a distance from the ex-wife’s new home, he must have his weekend with his son in a hotel. This was well-written, but extremely depressing, and seemed pointless. 2 out of 5 stars.
52. “Last Requests” by Giles Smith. This story is told from the point of view of the woman who cooks the last meals for the men on death row. Nothing really happens in the story, but as she talks about the last meals different inmates have requested, she talks about the differences in human nature, especially how one deals with death and remorse. It’s wonderful; highly recommended. 5 out of 5 stars.
53. “Peter Shelley” by Patrick Marber. This is the story of a teenage boy’s first sexual experience, during which his girlfriend tells his mother that his name is Peter Shelley. This made absolutely no sense to me, but apparently he was a British pop star in the 1970s. I’m sure this story makes much more sense to anyone raised in England. I found it way too descriptive for my taste. 2 out of 5 stars.
54. “The Department of Nothing” by Colin Firth. Now, any of you who know me well will say there’s no way I could give this story an objective review. It’s by Mr. Darcy, after all! Well, take it for what it’s worth, but I loved this story. It’s about a boy whose grandmother is a wonderful storyteller, but is also very old and sick. It’s about a boy dealing with TTPUYL – “things that pants up your life.” Firth has the voice of a tween-aged boy down perfectly, and the story is both wry and poignant. 5 out of 5 stars.
55. “I’m the Only One” by Zadie Smith. This is more a short scene than a story. It’s about a brother and sister who don’t seem to like each other very much. It was just okay. 3 out of 5 stars.
56. “NippleJesus” by Nick Hornby. Okay, I know the title seems extremely sacreligious – which is intentional, because it tells the story of a work of art that is considered sacreligious by most of the people in the story. I don’t know how he did it, but he took the story of an ex-bouncer working as docent for a blasphemous art display, and made me enjoy it. 4 out of 5 stars.
57. “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned” by Dave Eggers. This is a dog story. I am not a dog person. 3 out of 5 stars.
58. “Luckyb*tch” by Helen Fielding. A woman falls in her bathroom and thinks about her life, all while wondering if she’s had a stroke and if anyone will find her in time. She was pretty much what the title says, and so I didn’t care about her a bit. 2 out of 5 stars.