EDITED – Why do I read short stories? When you can explain to me how a great short story writer manages to tell a complete tale by a few paragraphs, each meaningful and bewitching, I will pull you aside and tell you not the reason but the reading experiences, each unfeigned and memorable, which draw the entire picture of my reason.
I am a relatively new short story reader, having only patronized the fruits of this challenging craft less than five years ago. While I cannot remember the first short story I read or the first that left a distinct impression on my senses, I know that one short story just led to another, from one writer in America to a writer in India, from gothic genre to social development issues.
Then my feet would drag me to book sales and my heart would easily flutter at the sight of a short story collection whose writer I haven’t even heard or read about until that time. The books naturally start to pile up.
Short stories are, to me, addictive, taunting me to read a few provocative lines until I would realize I have read the entire composition. They lend a glimpse into events that could have unfurled around the writer at the time of writing the story and offer me the chance to see and understand them through the writer’s lens.
Briefly yet satisfactorily, these good short stories would introduce me to various teasing scenes: the kaleidoscope of a curiosity shop; a corpse’s advanced stage of putrescence; long hair as black as coal, cared for like one would for a child; and the chattering neighbor’s attention and concern that is often, or perhaps rightly, dismissed as gossip.
The appetite for discovering new scenes from worlds beyond my boundaries, as depicted in the short stories written with tremendous skill, encourages me, after careful thought, to join Deal Me In 2017: Short Story Reading Challenge created and hosted by Jay of Bibliophilopolis. It is the sort of challenge that reinforces my reading habits and nurtures my love of short stories.
A new participant, I took some time understanding the mechanics. For my 52 short stories, I decided to go local: pre-war stories by Filipino writers, modern short stories, speculative fiction, those with traditional genre mixed with other types of genre, social development issues, and even a bit of folklore. I will most likely treat the wild card as an excuse to read short stories by non-Filipino writers, like O.Henry.
I will be actively reading the anthologies of Renato E. Madrid, the pen-name of Fr. Rudy Villanueva, a remarkably talented priest from my hometown; Estrella Alfon, my most favorite short story writer who was also born in Cebu and recognized nationwide for her talent as a playwright and writer; and Catherine Torres, a new-to-me writer and just a couple of years older than me, so I would like to learn from her perspectives, too. The rest is a mix of stories from two other interesting anthologies.
(New note: After I went for New Year to my parents’ house where I left a lot of my books before moving in with my husband, I found old gems of Philippine literature, including short stories by F. Sionil Jose, T.D. Agcaoili and Gilda Cordero-Fernando. I’ll be reading some of them for this event. The ones I struck out will be reserved for another time. There are so many on my shelves. I even found collections of stories by the revered Tiempos: Edilberto K. Tiempo’s The Paraplegics and Five Short Stories, Edith L. Tiempo’s Abide, Joshua and Other Stories and Rowena Tiempo-Torrevillas’s Upon the Willows and Other Stories. But my list of 52 short stories for this event is filled already, so chances are I’ll be reading more than 52 stories. Join me?)
- A – Southern Harvest by Renato E. Madrid
- 2 – Waywaya by F. Sionil Jose
- 3 – Mill of the Gods by Estrella Alfon
- 4 – Three Generations by Nick Joaquin
- 5 – A Gift of Tongues by Renato E. Madrid
- 6 –
Cielo by Jhoanna CruzTong by F. Sionil Jose
- 7 – Mariposa Gang by Catherine Torres
- 8 – Cameo by Jose Dalisay Jr.
- 9 – The Leper by Renato E. Madrid
- 10 –
Urban Legends by Charles TanArbol de Fuego by F. Sionil Jose
- J – The Woman on the Steeple by Estrella Alfon
- Q – Blown Glass by Catherine Torres
- K – The Death of Anacleto by Renato E. Madrid
- A –
Things by Dean Francis AlfarHero by F. Sionil Jose
- 2 – The Race Up to Heaven by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
- 3 – Hibernation by Catherine Torres
- 4 – The Greatest Friends in the World by Renato E. Madrid
- 5 –
Hear the Wind Turning by Ines Taccad CammayoA Fear of Heights by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
- 6 –
Disappearances by Exie AbolaFood–A Story of Hunger by T.D. Agcaoili
- 7 – Anguish by Estrella Alfon
- 8 –
The Hand by Marianne VillanuevaPride by F. Sionil Jose
- 9 – Greenhich Standard Time by Renato E. Madrid
- 10 –
In Earthen Vessels by Rodello SantosThe Visitation of the Gods by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
- J – Cafe Masala by Catherine Torres
- Q – Fairy Tale for the City by Estrella Alfon
- K –
Boylet by Chuckberry J. PascualVoyage by F. Sionil Jose
- A –
The Chieftest Mourner by Aida Rivera FordThe Wall Between Us by F. Sionil Jose
- 2 – Eyes of the Elephant by T.D. Agcaoili
- 3 –
Ginseng by Marianne VillanuevaProgress by F. Sionil Jose
- 4 – The Bag Lady by Catherine Torres
- 5 – The Eye of the Peacock by Renato E. Madrid
- 6 – Mannequins by Catherine Torres
- 7 – Apartment II (from A Lion in the House) by Lina Espina-Moore
- 8 –
The Ascension of Our Lady Boy by Mia TijamDama de Noche by F. Sionil Jose
- 9 – The Gentle Rain by Estrella Alfon
- 10 – The Well-Tempered Widow by Renato E. Madrid
- J – Gilt-Edged Shadows by Catherine Torres
- Q – Biga-on by Vicente Garcia Groyon
- K – Glo (from The Hand of the Enemy) by Kerima Polotan
- A –
The Datu’s Daughters by Raymond G. FalguiFlotsam by F. Sionil Jose
- 2 – A Harvest of Humble Folk by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
- 3 – Minor Collision by Renato E. Madrid
- 4 – Man of the Cloth by Catherine Torres
- 5 –
Gravity is Just a Good Idea by Princess F. MarasiganGutter Rats by T.D. Agcaoili
- 6 – Water from the Well by Estrella Alfon
- 7 – The Music Child by Alfred A. Yuson
- 8 – Plunge by Catherine Torres
- 9 – How I Spent my Summer Vacation by Renato E. Madrid
- 10 –
The Key by Socorro Federis TateThe Eye of a Needle by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
- J –
Eliza Hansen (from State of War) by Ninotchka RoscaGangrene by F. Sionil Jose
- Q – Compostela by Estrella Alfon
- K – The Sema by Catherine Torres
If you like reading short stories as much as I do, or if you don’t, consider joining the Deal Me In challenge, which is basically asking you to read only one short story a week. Along the way, you might find your reason for loving them more or discover your reason for at least respecting them.