Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Short Stories are Swell: A Small, Good thing

You can't talk about short stories without talking about Raymond Carver. Because he is the man. And wrote a ton of amazing short stories and the UW more or less worships at his literary feet. One of his most famous stories is called "Cathedral" and it was the underlying structural premise for the UW's whole thesis. But the UW's actual favorite Carver story is "A Small Good Thing." It's simple and beautiful and storytelling at its finest. And like the other gems in this series, free to read on the interwebnets.

Without further ado, take it away Ray.

http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/english/courses/eng201d/asmallgoodthing.html

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Great article about day jobs

Courtesy of a facebook status update by the amazing Anne Thibault, her friend Paul wrote a great blog post about day jobs and the arts (which the UW would say also encompasses writing). So all you fellow struggling artistic types, read and feel a bit better about your 9-5 pencil pushing. I know the UW did.

http://near-earth.com/2011/01/05/on-fulfillment-the-noble-pursuit-of-10-percent/

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And we're back...

The holidays are the UW's favoritest time of the year. Because, amidst the baking and parties and gift wrapping, you are supposed to just relax - which the UW does with aplomb. Christmas and New Years are laziness at it's well-fed finest. But it's 2011, and it's time to dust the cookie crumbs from the UW's chest, yank off the fleece blanket (sending a cascade of People magazines to the floor), and get her arse off the couch and back to work.

So here is another thesis snippet to buy her a day or so to get her literary calisthenics on and have something new, shiny and hopefully not lame to share with you fine folks.

Excerpt from The Swift Soak

They laughed, an easy comfortable laugh as warm as the air hanging in the room. As their voices seeped into the steam clinging to the large mirror hanging above the sink, Stella lathered a bar of soap between her hands. Jon had seen her do it thousands of times in the fifteen years they had been together, but still loved to watch the concentration and focus she gave to everything. Most of all him. She slid suds between her fingers, where a wedding band would be if they were married.

When they had met, a lifetime ago, Jon had wanted to marry Stella. She grew up four doors down the street from him. A gangly little girl who was all knee caps but over time blossomed into a long legged poet. Jon would rush home from college every Christmas to catch a glimpse of her. After seasons of persistence, she finally agreed to go on a date. He drank four pots of coffee in the diner, stretching out every second with her. She twisted words together into a language he thought he knew but did not recognize, like street signs in French. She talked about writers, about paintings, about traveling and food. He pictured her naked, the curve of her back rising out of the bunched up sheets. When the conversation was eventually his, she perched attentively, taking in his ramblings about the market and index prices with mild curiosity. When he walked her to her front door, he trembled.

He had found a ring. It was nestled into the window of a pawnshop, a small diamond surrounded by ornate swirls and a simple band. He passed it every day on his way to work; always sure he would buy it the next day for her. Next days became a year. Then the divorces rolled in like storm clouds all around them, blurring the horizon. The weddings they had dressed up for, kissed drunkenly in the corner at, were dissolving memories. They lost friends. They helped moved half of what everyone owned into tiny empty apartments gasping for light. They lay awake at night promising each other it would not be them.

The pawnshop closed a few months later, the ring disappearing with it. Jon was promoted at work, a job that came with late nights and early mornings. Stella traveled more to fill the empty space at home, collecting photographs of the world she saw without him. She devoured the history of wherever she went. She took up cooking, painting; her first volume of poetry was published. Her brilliance expanded across disciplines. She would share about her work from the other side of the bed, but he did not always understand it. They spoke different dialects of the same native tongue. Over time they began to love each other in a familiar way, like rereading a book. They never married, agreeing it was smarter this way, no legal bonds but rather free will to stay. A decade came and went as they slowly grew into two branches of the same tree; apart in the air, entwined at the ground.