Enthusiasms, passing fancies, notes, stories
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An antidote to the idea that Australian literature is “too nice”.

An antidote to the idea that Australian literature is “too nice”.

"Follow writers on twitter, or at least those writers crass enough to use that slightly boastful, thoroughly vulgar ‘#amwriting’ tag, and you’ll see proud iterations of wordlengths, in thousands of words, as if that’s what matters. Books are more than a certain thickness of spine, after all. People mistake length for heft; that latter quality is the crucial one."
"There is no ‘submissions guidelines’ button on the CBe site because there are no guidelines. If anyone wants to send material, just send. You’re a grown-up; you don’t need me to tell you how to make a cup of tea, how to start talking to another person."

At the start of the year I resolved to read more short stories. To date I have read none. So today I asked Twitter for some short story recommendations, and as expected my erudite tweeps were more than up to the task.

Margaret Atwood, “When It Happened”

Isaac Babel, “How it Was Done in Odessa”

JG Ballard, “The Voices of Time”; “The Drowned Giant”

Beth Ann Bauman, “Middle of the Night”

Barbara Baynton, “Chosen Vessel”

Max Beerbohm, “Enoch Soames”; “Savonarola Brown”

Roberto Bolano, “Gomez Palacio”

Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”; “Funes the Memorious”; “The Immortal”

Ray Bradbury, “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed”

Anson Cameron, “Nice Shootin’ Cowboy”

Albert Camus, “The Adulterous Woman”

Angela Carter, “The Snow Child”

Raymond Carver, “So Much Water So Close to Home”; “A Small, Good Thing”; “Cathedral”; “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?”

John Cheever, “The Swimmer”

Lucy Clifford, “New Mother”

Roald Dahl, “Parson’s Pleasure”; “The Great Switcheroo”

Philip K Dick, “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”

Stuart Dybek, “Paper Lantern”

Beverley Farmer, “Vase With Red Fishes”; “Woman With Dark Hair”

Helen Garner, “Little Helen’s Sunday Afternoon”

Graham Greene, “Two Gentle People”

Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”

Franz Kafka, “The Great Wall of China”; “Josephine the Mouse-Singer”

MR James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”

Stephen King, “Still the Body (Stand By Me)”

Margo Lanagan, “Singing My Sister Down”

Henry Lawson, “The Drover’s Wife”

Kelly Link, “Stone Animals”

Margaret Mahy, “The Devil and the Corner Grocer”

W. Somerset Maugham, “The Fall of Edward Barnard”

Vladimir Nabokov, “Cloud, Castle, Lake”

E Nesbit, “Melisande; Or Long and Short Division”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado”

Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”

Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Pavillion on the Links”

Bram Stoker, “The Judge’s House”

James Tiptree, Jr, “And I Awoke and Found Me Here On The Cold Hill’s Side”

Wells Tower, “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”

David Foster Wallace, “Good Old Neon”

Oscar Wilde, “The Nightingale and the Rose”; “Birthday of the Infanta”

PG Wodehouse, “The Crime Wave at Blandings”

Pamela Zoline, “The Heat Death of the Universe”

Other writers and collections mentioned were: Flannery O’Connor; Shaun Tan (Tales From Outer Suburbia); Katherine Mansfield; Amy Bloom (Away); JD Salinger (Nine Stories); Isak Dinesen (Seven Gothic Tales); Vonda N McIntyre (Fireflood and Other Stories); The Oxford Collection of English Ghost Stories; Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts); Peter Carey (War Crimes; The Fat Man In History); Stanislaw Lem (A Perfect Vacuum; The Cyberiad); Italo Calvino; Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Obviously one could go on almost forever, and indeed even in the process of writing this post I’ve thought of dozens of writers or individual stories that could be on a list such as this. Still, this is an impressive list, and offers plenty to be getting on with.

I don’t want to tell you what to read but Adam Roberts’s sf crit blog is one of my favourite places on the internet. For example, his recent review of Greg Egan’s new novel, which I have no intention of even thinking about possibly reading, is a wow.

Today I took my youngest daughter to the aquarium. We saw the Green Horseface Eartheater, which is a fish that is green with a horseface and a predilection for eating earth.

There was a reconstruction of a megalodon’s jaws inside which my daughter stood to be photographed. According to the aquarium, the megalodon was an enormous shark which lived millions of years ago and was the size of a bus and ate whales. Honestly, no wonder some people think scientists just make this shit up.

You’re doing something weird with your hand, oscillating it from the wrist to the beat of whatever’s being channeled through those bulbous headphones. “Meat Is Murder” declares your shirt, drawing attention to your Morrissey hair, your Morrissey pout. It’s fucking February, how are you so pale? You are a serious dude. I think if something surprising happened you would cock your head slightly, curl your lip, and neutralise it with a sardonic remark. Big mouth strikes again.

Happy Ballardstine Day!

Happy Ballardstine Day!