Saturday, August 9, 2008

a passion for the short story

Returning to books from your past can be an interesting journey. My opening line to Mosaic Woman back in 1986 was about a book, that when I revisited after many years, thought much lesser of and made me wonder about how life changes us, but the line caught her attention and we have been talking ever since.

It was a year or two before I met her though that a biology professor introduced me to the short stories of Raymond Carver, which amazed me at the time. And for many years I hunted down collections of short stories by a wide variety of authors. Not too long ago while sitting in a theater watching previews, I said, "I know this story." And I did, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by a much favored writer, Alice Munro, had been put on film... Away From Her. Read her stories. See the film.

So teaching English this summer to the brightest my school has to offer, I not only taught about how Latin and Greek words have formed our language (see this post), but I also tried to introduce them to stories that are not long. Three weeks ago I came home with anthologies from the library to get some newer material than what is sitting on my bookshelves. And for three weeks I have been immersed into my old love of stories. At one point in my life I even tried my hand at being a writer of them.

But I also picked up an older book by Raymond Carver, and had my students read A Small Good Thing. To offer something small can bring peace is shown by a baker who has unknowingly caused much grief to grieving parents.

Raymond Carver's stories did not appeal as much as they used to, but I can relate to the man who turned away from destroying himself when he found the love of a good woman. Which brings us back to where I started this post.

and the book that I used to catch Mosaic Woman's attention.... Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I write that title and think of all my friends in college who recommended it to me. Did they know it would help me find a woman to share my life with?

God's creation unfolds and we are free to catch the wave and see where it takes us.


  1. You make me remember an O'Henry short story I read with my class when I taught the upper level at the church school. A man living on the 14th floor has 3 months hard work on paper representing his future blown out an open window and come to rest on a narrow ledge. He, naturally, climbs out and retrieves it; but what a tale the author gives us in the passing of those few minutes! I gave my students the task afterwards of putting themselves into some life and death situation on paper and I was amazed with the results...

    "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?........

  2. I share your love of stories! Thanks for the comment on my blog, I am browsing around yours now and am enjoying it.

  3. Jim-- thanks for sharing the memory... as for Zen and the Art, I don't know if I would recommend it or not.

    Ingie-- thanks for stoping by

  4. I've never read "Zen..."; maybe I should give it a try.

  5. Kievas and all who venture by here-- if you do decide to read it, I hope to hear from you about your experience.


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