It used to be that for a number of years I only read short stories, and I only bring this up (again) because it fascinates and somewhat disgusts me. What was the meaning of that time, so focused on a form I forced my passions upon?
(Perhaps I should have stuck with the travel guide job, but that too, now that I think of it, was disastrous. Each and every occupation has been a disaster, if I choose to look at it this way, which today, I do.)
Last night, everyone was out ice skating even though it was horribly cold. I stayed by the fire and picked almost at random from the shelf: a thick Alice Munro anthology that fell open (at random?) to a story that felt vaguely familiar. But since I forget the details of most everything I read (I don't know why, I just do, it's always been that way, making the discussion of literature embarrassing (at best)), I read on, not remembering if I had read it or not until I got to the description of a lamp ("a whorehouse lamp") and realized I most definitely had read it before because I quoted the description of the lamp on this blog, posted with a picture I drew.
A Whorehouse Lamp
Had I not posted about this lamp, I would have passed over it, skimming along, wondering, even at the end, if I had read the story before, or simply read a story that was similar.
Why that line and not some other? Because the narrator (married to the famous writer) wants to be congratulated for the accuracy of her description?
Does Alice Munro empathize more with the writer husband, married three times, or the wife, who __________________________________________________________?
What kind of lamp do you fancy?
Isaac Bashevis Singer is my favorite writer-as-character writer. (And Woody Allen.) Often in Singer's stories the writer appears as the innocent bystander, people tripping into him with their fantastical stories, hoping he will write them down.
A Story I Wrote when I was Obsessed with Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Title of Which I Stole from one of his Most Famous Works
(How much is the writer character true to the writer person? How far does the truth need to be stretched until it becomes imagination? And doesn't everything we experience become instantly infused with imagination as soon as we attach language to it, attempting to label, judge, categorize, compare, ruminate upon?)
While reading Old Love, I worked on a story based on my great grandpa's immigration to America. I tried for Singer, but it came out all Fellini.
What happened was this: I had read so many short stories and studied how to write them with such fervor that I was extremely tense trying to make it all happen correctly, and since I've never been too good at correctly, it tipped in a strange direction.
And then I got frustrated and edited it down to where it was very thin.
Every time I try to return to it (because there's something intriguing there) I suffocate under its strained intent.
Will these stories ever revive, or are they better left alone?