Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Trip Back – Robert Olen Butler

I don’t think I’ve yet encountered in this project a story with such a focus on a character and the character’s family dealing with the issue of memory loss.

I’ve written about memory loss on many occasions here as there are several stories that have driven me to reflect on my father’s Alzheimer’s and my mother’s struggle with her health that has contributed to her memory loss and my future of some sort of memory problems.

This story did not pull on my heart strings as some of the others have – perhaps because the story addresses the disease directly. Also, as I’ve written about before in relation to me reading “In Search of Lost Time” (yes the entire thing – still reading it), the time in your life that you read a story or novel greatly colors your relationship to it.

I’m in a strange space with my parent’s illnesses. I think there is some acceptance of my father’s existence in this world – but I believe I am avoiding placing too much of my own emotions into my mother’s fate. I feel that these feelings colored my relationship to this story.

This was a rather short, short story, and I wanted a little more character development and maybe a thicker development of the relationship, and the struggle of dealing with a loved one with memory loss in the characters of the husband and wife. 

Happy Anniversary to this project!

It’s been 9 years.
My first entry on this blog was on May 29, 2008. It was a simple introduction outlining my goals.

As is my habit of leisurely reading and posting, my first post covering a story didn’t happen until April of 2009.  At the time of the introductory post, my goal was to read the BASS anthologies from 1978-2008…a nice round 30 years.

I’m still very far away from that goal and pushing the “goal posts” back a little – to extend my reading to the most recent edition of the anthology (at this time being the 2016 edition) would require me to read an additional 522 stories. Even if I were to read and post an entry for a story a day, that would take me about 1 ½ years to reach the end of 2016 and by that time another edition would be published adding another 20  or so stories. If I read and post a story every weekday - that would be 260 stories a year, and that works out to just about 2 years exactly – a year beyond the 10th anniversary of the blog.

Seeing that it has taken me 9 years to read 273 stories, another 522 (plus additional stories published in future editions) would take me at least 18 more years. At that point I’d be 63 years old. Holy shit. I guess I better get reading!

Some additional stats.

I’ve read 273 short stories and made 341 posts on this blog.
Lawns-by Mona Simpson, posted on Aug. 22, 2001 has the most page views with a total of 1255.

According to Google, the blog has received 94,004 all-time page views. And I can only assume that about 90% of those were by other computers.

I’ve received 78 comments on these 341 posts which in all honesty is just fine with me.

The comments have been generally good so that leaves me satisfied given the fact that reading comments can be dangerous because when people comment on posts, they are usually not very nice.

Those that have left comments…thank you – you have been very kind to me. 

The project goes on!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta – Kate Braverman

I need help from the author to jump-start my thoughts.
From her contributor’s notes:

“Tall Tales is about the legacy of Vietnam, which continues to infect the American conscience, often in unexpected configurations. It’s about tarnished consciousness and some unspeakably sordid pulse at the core of the American Dream. On one level, it’s about the irresistible lure of evil, its strange sheen. It’s about relationships between men and women and some overwhelming darkness that may be intrinsic to this planet itself. It was here before us and it will remain when we are gone. It has something to do with sexual obsession and the glamour of danger and the fragility of ordinary life. It’s about power and survival in a landscape where the boundaries between dream and reality have dissolved, probably to a rock-and-roll beat.”

Thank god Kate wrote the above.

Just when I thought I would be able to get back into writing here, I encounter this challenge.

As I sit here and write this, I re-read it over and over attempting to relate.

Is there anything in the story that I can really draw a line to a point in my life?

The male/female relationship?
-No…I don’t see it there.

-The sexual obsession, glamour of danger and fragility of ordinary life?


I recognize the fragility of ordinary life – I’ve come to the very edge of absolute heartbreak – but through an incredible series of practiced medical hands – I was spared that awful experience.

Power and survival?

-Sure, I see it daily in my line of work.

I think though that at my age – perhaps it’s the irresistible lure of evil. 

It may be silly but I think that we can all apply evil to different “things” in our lives. The obvious – drugs, infidelity…you know the rest. But I think the “evil” that lures me and that is the most dangerous to me is complacency in my life.

Sometimes I feel that I’m treading water – and that can be dangerous and evil not just for me but for those who rely on my support.

Does that “evil” have an attraction, a lure?

Sure it does. It’s the easy way out of life.

I struggle against the complacency and Lenny (from the story) keeps showing up along the paths of my life. He and I share great stories – and I follow him more times than I should.