Tag Archive: Granta

Stories to Read Online in July

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For whatever beach, balcony or sweaty train you’re on today, some proper hot stories for the start of summer in these new summer issues:

About Her and the Memories that Belong to Her by Mieko Kawakami in Granta Online

Kawakami is a new discovery for me this month. The little prologue to this story is itself a stunning piece.

“If we think of our memories as having a shape, then one possibility is that they come in the shape of a box. I know that this is not entirely an original idea, but that doesn’t make it untrue,” the prologue begins. It’s a beautifully and confidently abstract beginning to a surprisingly specific, grounded story, set at the narrator’s middle school reunion, where she is shocked to learn that an old classmate of hers has died and struggles to remember why the girl is so significant to her.

Dole Girl by Barbara Hamby in the Boston Review

Rightly selected as the winner of the Aura Estrada contest 2015, this story feels so true and surrounding, even though I have absolutely no experience of a Hawaian pineapple canning factory. In fact, you can almost taste the pineapples. A ripe, vivid sense of time and place, plus a compelling character with a burning desire is a winning combination. This story has both in excess. It’s a real lesson in voice, too; the voice of our “Dole Girl” is strong, youthful, naive and streetwise at the same time, making me wish I could read a whole novel of it.

Taxidermy by Vladislava Kolosova in Ploughshares

Set in after-dark Moscow, this is an unsettling story about a young woman who has started having sex for money, to help pay for her studies. One night, she’s picked up by a charismatic, authoritative “New Russian” called Eva who buys a night with her and takes her home to her quiet, boxer-like husband. Like all good shorts, Taxidermy plants its real lightbulb moments just left of center. After the sex, after the drama, the quiet moment gives this story its edge.

My Life by Chantal Clarke in N+1

This is a terrifying but profoundly funny little story. We are tricked by the narrator at first, as in plain childlike language, she describes the bare bones of her life, “I HAVE A HOUSE, and it’s great. My money bought it, so it’s mine. I love to live in it,” she begins. But she reveals after a while, and with glee, that she’s really “Predator 923,” a drone who is “writing simply so you’ll trust me.” Be warned, this story might make you want to try all kinds of weird stuff in your work.

Congregation by Christopher Alessandrini in the Harvard Advocate

A little treat from a magazine very close to my heart. This story follows a girl working at a summer camp. From the outside, she seems to be on the brink of something, some beginning of real life, but to her, the world of the camp and the array of girls and boys that form her camp society, is its own special kind of real life. Searing sharp human observation meets beautiful lines describing the architecture, natural and otherwise of “Link’s Seafood & Bait” where the camp is situated: “Out by the sheds, the bulrush swells with frog song and birds, whip-thin plovers and orioles halving through the stalk like light on water, all that good gossip and whisper.”

What are your reading recommendations for July?

Picks of the Web for October

ramiro checchi

October on the internet was a feast of stories – suspenseful stories, heart-beat-faster emotional stories, flashes you don’t quite understand – and here is my pick of five to read when you get a minute or two. Enjoy!

The Baby by Stephen V Ramey in Bartleby Snopes

This little story is two nightmares for the price of one. When the narrator’s dog Churchill brings home a baby’s head on Halloween, we know the world of this story a little off, but as things get more and more warped, the real horror of the narrator’s waking life becomes subtly clear.

The Path We Used to Walk by Courtney Kersten in DIAGRAM

In these fourteen vignettes, Courtney Kersten’s narrator journeys through the various and particular stinks of dead woodland creatures, and amid this inventory, the narrator’s own mother also dies. The stories in DIAGRAM always give me a push to think outside the box and this one is a prime example.

In Our Defense by C.M. Barnes in American Short Fiction

How difficult it is to conjure the life of a person after they are gone, in all its complexity. But in this little story, a member of the family scattering the ashes of their loved one from a minnow bucket manages to confess perfectly the mess of guilt and love that surrounds the Sister, Nephew, Daughter as they try to do want She would have wanted.

Humphrey on Fire by Andrew McDonnell in Litro

A delightful (if a story with so much fire can be called delightful) psychological tale following, and often yelling at, a man called Humphrey, whose life begins to catch light after he sees a photograph of a burning monk in a volume of National Geographic.

The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado in Granta

This is a beautifully written story. From its first part, “If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices: Me: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same,” this rare tale follows the womanhood and wifehood of the narrator. By the end, I’d quite forgotten where I was.

What’s your pick of the web this month? Any humdingers that got you inspired to write? Let us know!

Image: Ramiro Checchi