Reading 52 short stories in 2017

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

Reading A Story. Realism Painting by James Tissot (1878-1879). Retrieved from https://www.wikiart.org/en/james-tissot/reading-a-story on December 25, 2016.

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.

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Espeleta: Estrella D. Alfon’s Tips On How To Care For Your Neighbors

How long is the street you are living in? Do you know your neighbors, greet them beyond a passing wave of the hand and a simple hello, or do you prefer to know them behind the blinds, looking on people throwing their trash or passing by your front lawn, which can awkwardly put you at the risk of being called the weirdo next door?

espileta

Can you find where Espelita Street is? (Image is a screenshot of maps.google.com)

In Cebu, and in the rest of the Philippines, many streets are thriving, living macroorganisms. This is best illustrated by Filipino writer Estrella Alfon in her short story, Espeleta, who describes with nostalgia the Espelita Street in Cebu City:

“You could walk its whole length to where it ends by stopping humbly at the very gate of the San Nicolas churchyard; you could walk that whole unwinding length, as I say, and experience no shortness of breath, no dampness of perspiration (3).”

How would you describe your street? There are many short streets in Cebu City, each with a name after a political leader or a person with significance in history. One of them is Ballesteros Street in Barangay Tinago, Cebu City. One end connects to Lopez Jaena Street where I used to work and the other to A. Bonifacio Street where I would wait to hail a taxi just around the corner, in front of a rusty bakeshop interspersed with an equally rusty musty old house. Because it is very short, I could cover the street in just about 40 to 50 steps while, when going home, enjoying the front view of the well-conserved Casa Gorordo Museum to my left side and old houses to my right.

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