Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today I read Jennifer Haigh's story "Desiderata," which appears in (and is the entire contents of) the latest edition of the journal One Story. (The subscription is a gift from one of my daughters.) The story was fine, but not great . . . and perhaps I'm being generous with "fine." It's rather schematically structured, so you can see what's coming and no surprises are in store. There's nothing ultimately either mysterious or revelatory or puzzling about the tale. It takes absolutely no risks, but is simply solidly realistic, with no interesting choices in tone or voice or structure or content. A few lines struck me as quite clever. The dialogue was handled well. Nothing was wrong with the story, particularly, though I don't know why what the character has realized already is withheld for so long—as if we would be surprised. What's disappointing is that these folks publish one short story a month. Nothing more interesting (if flawed) came down the pike?

I've been reading poetry by Paul Muldoon from his collection Moy Sand and Gravel. Interesting. They're not work to read, exactly, but I'm not pulled in, for the most part. That he is able to toss a bunch of evocative-sounding Irish town names into his poems seems like a terribly unfair advantage.

Started reading an outstanding and absorbing novel by Magnus Mills, Three to See the King. I have no idea where this is going. What fun. Totally strange. I read his Explorers of the New Century a few years back; that was one of my most enjoyable reading experiences. It's like reading modern fables, this guy's work.

Worked on some short fiction today. Hope to do a little more before bed.

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