Why not 2007 ... or are we on 2008? I forget. Anyway, Sue Miller's old choices are currently cheaper than Stephen King's choices for this year, but I will get around to his choices eventually.
Short stories split up into Sucks, Decent, and I'm Putting the Author on my "To Read" List
The Sugar-Tit by Carolyn Cooke: Some chick is depressed and her husband is having an affair with their friend. And he makes fun of her. And everyone gets drunk and moves a couch. I don't get it and don't really want to waste the effort to do so.
The Red Ant House by Ann Cummins: Little brat girl makes fun of the poor kid, doesn't like taking care of her mom. In the end they expose themselves to a child molester. See above.
Watermelon Days by Tom McNeal: The supposed deep-osity of unhappy marriages. In the back, the author said he didn't know what the story was about. Pass.
Bulldog by Arthur Miller: Isn't it amazing and inspirational when a 40-year-old woman deflowers a 14-year-old boy? [GAG!]
Family Furnishings by Alice Munro: I feel a little bad insulting someone whose probably a Canadian national treasure, but I've really never gotten into this lady's work. I've read about a dozen of her stories and her characters are usually unsympathetic, emotionally-constipated cranks and even their flaws don't make them interesting. Also, they're usually having affairs and not much happens. This story didn't have an affair (thank God) but the rest is all true.
Love and Hydrogen by Jim Shepard: It's like The Titanic. But on the Hindenburg. And it's with two gay guys. And instead of a blue necklace it's a pocketwatch put down the underpants. And instead of impressive visuals it's buttloads of technical shit. And instead of a romance it's two guys snipping at each other most of the time for added "drama." And I hate it.
Puppy by Richard Ford: Oddly enough, I didn't quite get the end either, but the characters kept me interested enough throughout that I didn't get pissed off at the end. The relationship between the husband and wife was also pretty interesting despite having the affair and ... well, I don't know why I'm not pissing all over this one. I guess I was in a good mood that day.
Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma: Same miserable-people-having-affairs chestnut, but spiced up with math and religion and a stab at forgiveness. Not incredibly powerful, but I liked it when I thought about it.
In Case We're Separated by Alice Mattison: OOOH! LOOKIE! ANOTHER AFFAIR! It's like the Thnikkaman costumes of short stories! Okay, I liked the characters in this one. And the ending was kooky.
Billy Goats by Jill McCorkle: I have a weakness for super-short stories told in an unusual format because I have the attention span of a gnat. The voice was nice, too.
Nachman from Los Angeles by Leonard Michaels: Story about a guy getting roped into writing an assignment for a Persian prince studying in America. Interesting psychology between the characters. Didn't hit home in a huge way, but I dug it overall.
The Rug by Meg Mullins: Guy achieves his dream to find it useless. Has a Thnikkaman, but it's not as noticable.
Digging by Beth Lordan: Actually has a happy ending after meandering through the genealogies of two Irish/Irish-American families. HAPPY ENDING. I could shit my pants! It's impossible!
For the "To Read" List
Along the Frontage Road by Michael Chabon: A father helping his son pick out a pumpkin after a tragedy. Not the greatest work, but one part touched me. Plus, I like this author already, so I'm kinda cheating.
Seven by Edwidge Danticat: THNIKKAMAN! But also a romantic story of a couple separated after seven years. I'm not projecting. [whistles]
A House on the Plains by E.L. Doctrow: SURPRISE ENDING! I dug it.
Nobody's Business by Jhumpa Lahiri: A guy loves a girl, she loves another guy, the other guy is a douche, first guy doesn't get girl anyway. Also, innocent person caught in the crossfire of ROMANTIC DRAMA, which is basically the story of my life. Mostly realistic except for the phone sequence. Nevertheless, it does cement for me how much I like Lahiri.
Aftermath by Mary Yukari Waters: A Japanese woman starts to adjust to the new breed of "normal life" in her country after the devastation World War II. Common themes, but told really well.
The Heifer by Melissa Hardy: A sad yet disturbing story about a woman who does the impossible and the horrible for a cow. This is less funny and more awesome than I make it sound.
Surrounded by Sleep by Akhil Sharma: The best for last. A young Indian-American boy's ultimately disappointing relationship with God (who looks like Superman) after his brother is crippled and brain damaged in a diving accident. Much less cheesy and more thoughtful than I'm making it sound. It made me tear up.