Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Glimmer Train

Day 7 of the "What are you reading?" project. (And still being kicked off the Internet at home...)

Suzie is reading What the World will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, a collection of short stories by Laura van den Berg. That is one scary title! But it sounds like the stories mix big trouble with gentle insight in magical ways each time.

I am also reading some short stories, interspersed with my other reading, which works because I am still reading a book of essays and a book of letters. I paused to read two stories by Paul Michel in back issues of Glimmer Train, a wonderful literary magazine edited by two sisters and published in Portland, Oregon. I was an early subscriber to this magazine, delighted by the policy of publishing pictures of the authors as children and having them comment on their work in "The Last Pages." My mom also liked it from the start and has been a faithful subscriber ever after, so now I borrow her copies!

So I read Michel's stories "Say to the Waves" in the Summer 2004 issue and "Green" in the Spring 2006 issue, and he will also have a story in the forthcoming Spring 2010 issue. Paul and I were at Kenyon College at the same time, and we recently reconnected at Facebook, which is why I love Facebook. Loved these short stories. "Green" gets the tornado sky of the Midwest, and the icky fear of it, just right, and then there is all this subtle family stuff going on, too. "Say to the Waves" is a story that grabs me and makes me care about these people I am just now meeting, and puts me right there on a bench with them.

Paul has a new book coming out in April, Houdini Pie, and will be at the AWP conference in Denver this year to help promote it.

What I always love about short stories is you can sit down and eat them. What I mean by this is what Richard Bausch says in his essay/letter "Dear Writer," collected in the Letters to a Fiction Writer book edited by Frederick Busch. Bausch is first reissuing Fitzgerald's advice to his daughter Scottie that "you must try to absorb...six good authors a year" and goes on to say that "you swallow them. You ingest them, and move on."

I do look at reading this way. It sustains me. It keeps me alive, it helps me write. It is nutritious, good reading!


Paul Michel said...

Thanks to Kathleen for remembering--and reading--me. I've been reading stories too; a collection by D.R. MacDonald called "All the Men Are Sleeping." I wrote some reactions to it on my own web page blog, which I (naively) thought I could paste in here... but they're there if your curious, and the short version is that I love his stuff and recommend it. And thanks to KK for this blog!

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Paul. And I, naively, think the link to your book title will send readers back to your webpage. I hope that's true!