Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: CATASROPHE and other stories, Dino Buzzati

Tonight Megan and Laura Lippman will be talking crime fiction at 6pm Central Time (7 eastern) through Square Books for anyone interested. You can watch it on youtube or facebook live. Here's a link.

Someone mentioned this on here a few weeks ago and my library kindly found it for me. I am not sure reading these stories, which all have absurd or indefinite endings, one after the other is the best way to read them So I have read four and now I will read one a day until I finish. 

Kevin Brockmeier wrote the preface and talks about running this book down after years of looking for it. 

And in a sense, I should not tell you about these stories at all because they are very short and hard to encapsulate without ruining the mood. So let me say this. They are set in European cities/countries. There is the threat of violence, although often ridiculous violence, in all of them. They seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone if the writer evoked a more European sort of landscape. And he is perhaps a bit more sophisticated although I haven't read the TZ episodes in a story format. Here is one line from "The Alarming Revenge of a Domestic Pet." 

" looked more like a bat than all the bats I've ever seen put together."

Kevin Tipple


George Kelley 

Todd Mason


Steve A Oerkfitz said...

Never heard of this writer before. Sounds like the sort of stuff I like. Love that sentence.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've read collections like that, too, Patti, where it's best not to read them all at once. Sometimes it really is better to do it bit by bit.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Steve-You can borrow my copy.
Some writers are better not collected almost.

George said...

I love chasing books down, too. Sometimes the search is better than the book!

pattinase (abbott) said...

He looked for a long time and almost paid huge prices and suddenly he saw it on a shelf in a bookstore for four dollars.

Jeff Meyerson said...

George (and Patti), this was one of the books I discovered from reading THE BOOK OF FORGOTTEN AUTHORS (Christopher Fowler), which George reviewed a few weeks ago. There is another story where a guy checks into a sanitarium with seven floors, for a mild case (of something, it isn't spelled out what exactly). As your condition gets more serious, you move down to the lower floors, and those on the first floor are surely terminal. This guy starts out on seven, but in a series of sometimes unlikely events, he is gradually moved down floor by floor... .

I would definitely not read more than one story a day. Surprisingly, my library had it in an ebook format.

I think Patti recommended Antonya Nelson a while ago, and I borrowed one of her collections from the library early this year, and liked it. So I got the others that were available, read them, and then ended up buying the last three for a few dollars each on ABE. Looks like I read one collection in February, one in March, two in April, one in June, one in July, and the last, NOTHING RIGHT, in August. Most of the stories are set in Wichita, Kansas, or in the Tucson area, or Telluride, Colorado, or occasionally in Chicago or Montana. They are generally family stories - a woman (or teenage girl) protagonist, with siblings, parents, husband and/or ex-husband, in-laws, etc. There are affairs, babies, illnesses and deaths; you know, life. Obviously, I ike her writing or wouldn't have continued to read them, though some are better than others (or, at least, appeal to me more).

IN the title story of NOTHING RIGHT, Hannah is living with her sullen 15 year old son; her ex and her older son have decamped to her former mother-in-law's home. She discovers the son has an 18 year old girlfriend, then the girl gets pregnant and makes it clear she is going to have the baby. It held my attention all the way through. In this book, at least, the stories are around 30 pages long each.

I also read a collection of Brian Garfield stories, SUSPENDED SENTENCES, which I found strangely dated for some inexplicable reason.

Up next? Possibly one of the three Crippen & Landru collections I still have, or a Tessa Hadley collection I bought after Patti reviewed one of her stories recently.

This is truly a fine time to be reading short stories. I'm over 600 read so far this year. Last year I only read 555 the whole year, and 612 in 2019. The five years previous to that I averaged clser to 800 a year.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Those are amazing numbers, Jeff. It's practically in the range of half a book length a day. Plus I know you read novels too.

Rick Robinson said...

Sorry I have nothing again this week. See my comment on Monday.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I always feel George is out there reading a book a day, some of them 500 pages! I know, it does seem to add up. When I look at the totals I am amazed myself. After all, I've read 42 collections or anthologies of short stories this year alone! Most people don't read 42 books, let alone 42 stories. At one point I had read every collection of stories in the house, but there has seemingly been an explosion in recent years. Plus, I see more reviews and more things available on Kindle at a reasonable price. Plus, the library has seemed to buy more short story collections lately.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Most people don't read four a year. I have held onto about 60 collections but I am looking at them hard again. Over the last two weeks I have purged all of Phil's scholarly paperbacks, probably 500. Nobody wants political theory paperbacks.

Todd Mason said...

Oh, I might! (Want political theory paperbacks.) Alice would not want me to want them, to be sure.

Having had the electrician in to replace the lamp/ceiling fan in the late morning/early afternoon, and attending to some other matters, I am as usual on my way to writing up my WSS entry.

Kevin Brockmeier being a fantasist in the Buzzati mode, we'll have you reading Borges and Leiber and the non-mimetic work of Karen Joy Fowler and Carol Emshwiller and publishing your fanzine issue in no time! The most useful advice, on some days, I've ever picked up from Lester Del Rey was his suggestion to read one story a day from most collections, if not also anthologies...

Todd Mason said...

And thanks for the chat link! Well, we've just had torrential rain, and fairly nearby tornado (how many tornados do you remember in Philadelphia in your youth? I suspect the bookstores were more plentiful...did you browse paperback racks much in drugstores and the like?), and the overflowing French drains in the basement we were briefly hiding in overflowed a little, but I was able to mop most if not all of that up before it reached anything to easily messed over (I enjoy fetching my head on a hundred-year-old ceiling and younger ducts that put the headspace down there at about appropriate for 5' nothing, maybe slightly taller).

So, it's up! Stephen Gallagher's chapbook THE GOVERNESS, a Professor Challenger and Malone pastiche, no less.