The Thing Around Your Neck


The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published June 16, 2009
240 pages

Last September, I wrote an ode to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (you can read it here). Since I wrote that post, Adichie has given me more reasons to love her. Just a few weeks back, she was Wellesley’s commencement speaker. Her speech was about “gender and justice” (“Class of 2015, please go out there and make feminism a raucous, inclusive party.”) with little tidbits of advice thrown in for good measure (“Please do not twist yourselves into shapes to please.”). It’s short (about 20 minutes) and worth watching in its entirety: Continue reading

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
B.J. Novak
© 2014

You probably know B.J. Novak from The Office. He was Ryan (the temp), sometimes lover to Mindy Kaling’s Kelly Kapoor. Mindy and B.J. were both writers on The Office; that’s where they met.  And now, in real life, they are BFFs.  They are each stars on their own (more so Mindy than B.J. these days, but who’s counting?), but, with their powers combined, they seem to shine a little brighter.

And they milk that for all it’s worth.  They have “private” conversations with each other on Twitter.  They post pictures of each other on Instagram.  They have entire Buzzfeed lists dedicated to their friendship and mutual adoration (like “35 Times Mindy Kaling And B.J. Novak’s Best Friendship Killed You In The Heart”). Continue reading

Tenth of December

UnknownTenth of December
George Saunders
© 2013

When my brother was visiting a few months ago, he told me to read a short story by George Saunders that appeared in The New Yorker in 2002.  It’s called “My Flamboyant Grandson.”  It’s a short piece about a loving grandfather who takes his grandson to see a Broadway show.  If you haven’t read it, here it is.

“My Flamboyant Grandson” is a great representation of Saunders’ short fiction: The setting is a somewhat dystopian future.  The narrator has a distinct and interesting voice.  It’s got a touch of darkness.  But it’s funny.  It’s touching.  And it’s just plain good. 

If you like “My Flamboyant Grandson,” you’ll like Tenth of December, which is Saunder’s latest collection, published last year.  It contains ten short stories, ranging in length from two pages to sixty pages, and each one packs a punch. Continue reading

You Are Not a Stranger Here

Adam HaslettYou Are Not a Stranger Here
Adam Haslett
© 2002

Adam Haslett makes one thing very clear: if you think your life is rough, rest assured–it could be way, way worse.

In his collection of short stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here, his characters’ lives are miserable and tragic and sad.  One dude is dying of AIDS.  A high-school kid’s dad dies in a car crash only weeks after his mom has committed suicide.  A young kid feels helpless and desperate after foreseeing someone’s death.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  In addition, many of his characters are dealing with severe mental illness.  Schizophrenia, mania, and depression all play major roles in stories. Continue reading


c23112Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
Kazuo Ishiguro
© 2009

I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to find out that I keep a collection of short stories in my husband’s car.  If we’re stuck in traffic, I’ll pull it out and read a story aloud to him (my brother-in-law, Sweater, will be happy to know that the collection that currently lives in the car is one of Sedaris’s).

If we’re headed on a long road trip, I usually download a short-story collection onto my iPad, so I can read them aloud as he’s driving.  I am not a fan of driving, and he is not a fan of reading, so it works out well.

Short-story collections are a good choice for our road trips for two reasons: Continue reading

Nine Inches: Stories

UnknownNine Inches: Stories
Tom Perrotta
© 2013

I talked about fluff recently (here).  But, looking back, I realized that I only talked about female-authored fluff.  That was an oversight.

Make no bones about it: there is male-authored fluff, too.  There are four fluffernuts who spring to mind immediately.    

There are the two Brits:

  • Nick Hornby (About a Boy, How to Be Good, High Fidelity)
  • David Nicholls (A Question of Attraction, One Day)

And the two Americans:

  • Jonathan Tropper (The Book of Joe, This Is Where I Leave You, How to Talk to a Widower)
  • Tom Perrotta (Election, Little Children, The Leftovers) Continue reading