Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Tuesday, June 30, 2020

“What to do When Your Child Brings Home a Mami Wata” - a Short Story by Chikodili Emelumdu- One of five finalist for The 2020 Caine Prize for African Literature.


“What to do When Your Child Brings Home a Mami Wata” - a Short Story by Chikodili Emelumdu- One of five finalist for The 2020 Caine Prize for African Literature.

Published in The Shadow Booth: Vol. 2, 2018

You can read all five stories and learn about the importance of The Caine Prize here.Here

A very interesting interview with Chikodili Emelumdu

An interview with a link to three of her earlier stories as well as very interesting bio data provided by the author.


I first began reading and posting on The Caine Prize Stories in June 2011.  I think I was the first blogger of any sort to post on them.  Now book bloggers, country specific  cultural blogs and African focused political blogs take interest in what countries are represented in the nominations in subsequent years.

This is Chikodili Emelumadu’s  second time to have a story in the final five for The Caine Prize.  In 2017 her story “Bush Baby” was among the finalists.

“What to do When Your Child Brings Home a Mami Wata” is a delightful very creative story.  Kind of a mix of Science Fiction, satire on advise to parents works and a genre of short works I am just getting into, weird fiction.  It is also a saltire on government prose.  It is also a kind of mini-course in Ibo riverine folk lore about semi humanoid acoustic creatures.  The purpose of the paper is to tell parents of boys what to do if their son has a Mami Wata”
paramour. Deeper in, the story can be seen as mocking extremism in sexual conservatism.  Evidently the Mami Wata goes almost exclusively for teenage boys.


From the opening paragraphs I knew I was reading something very special:

“Please note: ‘Mami Wata’ (also known in various other regions as ‘Mammy Water’) is used in this context as an umbrella term for both genders of the popular water entity (i.e. Mami and Papi Watas) and does not represent those other mer-creatures without the appearance of absolute humanoid traits. For these other non-humanistic water entities including but not restricted to: permanent mermaids and mermen, crocodile fellows, shark-brides, turtle crones and anomalous jelly blobs of indeterminate orientation, please see our companion volume, ‘So You Want to Kill a Mer- Creature?’ which will guide you through the appropriate juju framework to avoid or deflect repercussions and will elucidate general and specific appeasement rituals. See also, ‘Entities and Non-entities: The Definitive Legal Position on Aquatic Interspecies Marriages, Non-Marriage Couplings and Groupings”

This story reads like something the Jonathan Swift who wrote “A Modest Proposal” would admire and respect.

I cannot imagine anyone not loving this story. You will find this a welcome pleasure in these times, I certainly did.



Shirley Jackson shortlist 2015
Caine Prize shortlist 2017
Curtis Brown First Novel Prize winner 2019
AKO Caine Prize Shortlist 2020
She was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK at an early age then she and her family moved back to Nigeria as she moved home.  As a child her parents made her read English classics and the complete Encyclopedia Brittanica.

For sure I would purchase a collection of her stories. I hope to follow her for a long time.

Mel u













Sunday, June 28, 2020

“Mlle. Dias de Corda” - A set in Paris short story by Mavis Gallant. First published January 4, 1993 in The New Yorker



“Mlle. Dias de Corda” - A set in 
Paris short story by Mavis Gallant.  First published January 4, 1993 in The New Yorker

This story is included in The Collected Short Stories of Mavis Gallant and her collection, Across The Bridge.


Buried in Print’s Mavis Gallant Project 

Mavis Gallant

April 11, 1922 - Montreal

1950 - moves to Paris

September 1, 1951- publishes, in The New Yorker, her first short story.  She would publish 116 stories in The New Yorker. 

February 18, 2014 - passes away in her beloved Paris

Buried in Print is doing a full read through of the short stories of Mavis Gallant,one of the masters of the form.  She began in March 2017 and anticipates finishing in the fall of 2020.  I have access to about half of her stories and have been following along as I can since March 25, 2017, starting with "The Other Paris".  The full schedule is on her blog and all are invited to join the project.

Today’s story is narrated by a Parisian woman. The story is structuted around the changes in Paris that upset her and the chsnges wrought in her life when Mlle. Dias de Corda rented a room from her.

“YOU MOVED INTO my apartment during the summer of the year before abortion became legal in France; that should fix it in past time for you, dear Mlle. Dias de Corta. You had just arrived in Paris from your native city, which you kept insisting was Marseilles, and were looking for work. You said you had studied television-performance techniques at some provincial school (we had never heard of the school, even though my son had one or two actor friends) and received a diploma with “special mention” for vocal expression. The diploma was not among the things we found in your suitcase, after you disappeared, but my son recalled that you carried it in your handbag, in case you had the good luck to sit next to a casting director on a bus. The next morning we had our first cordial conversation. I described my husband’s recent death and repeated his last words, which had to do with my financial future and were not overly optimistic.”

The move in date 1975.

When she first moves in the narrators son is still at home.  Later she describes her daughter in law as of “mixed descent” because two of her grandparents were Swiss.  

We get a good picture of her preoccupations in these lines:

“I suppose no amount of coaching at a school in or near Marseilles could get the better of the southern o, long where it should be short and clipped when it ought to be broad. But, then, the language was already in decline, owing to lax teaching standards and uncontrolled immigration. I admire your achievement and respect your handicaps, and I know Robert would say the same if he knew you were in my thoughts.”

She speaks of “Asian colonization” of her neighborhood.

She begins more and more like a Parisian version of a Brexit supporter or an American Xenophobe:

“According to this report, by the year 2025 Asians will have taken over a third of Paris, Arabs and Africans three-quarters, and unskilled European immigrants two-fifths. Thousands of foreign-sounding names are deliberately “lost” by the authorities and never show up in telephone books or computer directories, to prevent us from knowing the true extent of their progress.”

Of course her math makes no sense and no one knows anything about the report.

As time goes by, long after she moved out, Mlle. Dias de Corta begins to appear on French TV.  Following her Career helps narrator stay connected to a Paris in which she increasingly feels is “not her Paris”.

In just a few Gallant illuminates the attitude of many Parisians to what they see, in a politely expressed fashion, as degredation of the City they loved.

Like Buried in Print remarked, this is one of my favourite Mavis Gallanf Stories.


























Wednesday, June 24, 2020

“Cicadas and the Dead Chairman” by Pingmei Lan - A 2019 Pen America Best Debut Short Story Prize Winner




“Cicadas and the Dead Chairman” by Pingmei Lan - A 2019 Pen America Best Debut Short Story Prize Winner


“Cicadas and the Dead Chairman” by Pingmei Lan. Was First published in Epiphany, Fall/Winter 2018.

An interesting interview with Pingmei Lan

A Conversation With Pingmei Lan on her creative process 

The annual Pen America Best Debut Anthology of Short Stories is a smart  way to get a feel for the state of the American Short Story.  This year’s collection has twelve stories chosen for the Dau Prize,
out of hundreds nominated, by the judges Danielle Evans, Alice Sola Kim, and Carmen Maria Machado, all by writers who had never published fiction before 2018.  Each author receives $2000.00.

I posted last month on “Today, You’re A Black Revolutionary” by Jade Jones.

Today’s story takes place in China in 1976, shortly after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong.  The impact of this on his devotes was immense.

The narrator is grown woman reflecting on her experiences as seven year old girl, as she was when the Chairman passed. Both of her parents were graduates of re-education camps.

“ONE DAY, I decided to ask Dad about the old maid. My parents were propaganda writers for the Department of Education eager to please their party secretary. Dad, however, had a bad cough from his days in an education camp. So sometimes he gazed out the window when he was supposed to be working. This is what he was doing while Mom slaved over “Virtues of China’s Own Brand of Democracy.”

This is a strange, weird and wonderful story, focusing on the relationship of the precocious girl with a mentally impaired homeless woman.  It is from her the girl first heard about death.

I loved these lines for the way they show the woman’s memories, intermingling myth and half understood realities:

“She lived in a cave for ten years and ate mushrooms that grew on the walls. She was a white snake who turned into this thing when she ate the magic ginseng roots from the Manchurian mountains. I preferred to think of her as having been born that way, with hair frosted by Yan Wang’s brew to prove her connection to the underworld. Her eyes too, they had this dark pull, at once mercurial and warm. Her lashes were pale and shiny like the hooks fringing a Venus flytrap. I imagined men who inched closer, willing to latch on. They’d follow her into this other place, where gremlins made decisions to either feast on the dead or send them back to life untouched.”

After this, I was hooked.

She befriends the woman.  One day a group of workmen begin to harass her and menace the girl.  They take off running.

“When I squinted, I saw a ball of white light bursting through the pagoda’s canopy. Tian Gong, the sky’s emperor, seemed to be staring down at it, or at me, with disapproving looks. When my eyes began to water, I turned to see the old maid lying down on her side. On the back of her neck was a blue-black bruise. I rubbed my eyes. I was about to ask her about it when something small and hard fell on my head. I froze, a scream rasping in my throat.  She leaped up. “A cicada!” she said, picking the nugget of black out of my hair. “It’s dead. That’s why it was screaming. Her last song.” I breathed hard, unsure of what to say. She plopped back down to show me the cicada, then shoved it in her mouth. Maybe she only took a bite. Either way, a squirt of green liquid flew out, thin and curling, like a snake. I shut my eyes. But it was too late. She laughed and smeared something damp on my hand. “Look. Green blood. Isn’t that cool? No red. No red. No red at all! That’s what I like.” When I tried to reply that that was a dangerous thing to say, I threw up green bile.”

Normally I don’t quote so much text but here I just cannot resist.

I will leave the remainder of this in fact deeply tragic on numerous levels story for you to read. It presents a cruel society with little space for those who do not fit in.  The relationship between the two central characters was marvelously brought to life.

“Cicadas and the Dead Chairman” by Pingmei Lan justifies me in my decision to acquire this collection.  I hope so much to read a lot more of Pingmei Lan’s work.


Pingmei Lan grew up in Beijing, China. She received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific University in 2018. Her work appears in Epiphany, Tahoma Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, and other publications. She lives in San Diego.

Mel u













Sunday, June 21, 2020

“A Cat Called Grevious” A Short Story by R. L. Maizes - 2018



“A Cat Called Grevious” by  R. L. Maizes - 2018

You can read today’s story here

Website of R. L. Maizes

I first became aware of R. L. Maizes in a tweet by a writer I have followed for many years, Ethel Rohan.

Before I met my wonderful wife, i was blessed with a long term companion, Mr. C, a.k.a Charles, Charlie or King Charles,a Siamese.  I was often met with this line from “A Cat Called Grevious”.

“Sometimes I think you love that cat more than you love me.”

This is a great cat story, one of the best.

As the story opens a childless couple who marriage is still ok but has seen better days, adopts a cat they found outside and is struggling to live. She has just had kittens but they are lost:

“Her kittens were gone, eaten by coyotes, perhaps. Every day she prowled through snowdrifts that hid the withered Colorado landscape, wailing as she searched for them. She returned at night, wet fur pasted down, shivering. Ignoring the bowl of warm milk and plate of sardines we put out, she crawled into the boot.
After a week, she stopped going out. She sat on the porch, long neck stretched toward a shark gray sky, howling for hours. We called her Grievous.”

  It takes work to get her inside.  Gradually they become more attached to Grevious.  The couple has been trying for a long time to have a Baby and they finally have a daughter.  As the years go by the daughter totally falls for Grevious.

Cat people, the best sort, will relate how Grevious slowly takes over the family.

The ending is shocking and maybe i was wrong to laugh at the terrible thing Grevious does.

This is included in her debut Short Story Collection, We Love Andersen Cooper. I hope to read more of her work.




R.L. Maizes is the author of the short story collection WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER (Celadon Books, Macmillan). Her novel, OTHER PEOPLE’S PETS (Celadon Books), is forthcoming July 14, 2020. Her stories have aired on National Public Radio and have appeared in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and have aired on NPR.
Maizes was born and raised in Queens, New York, and lives in Boulder County, CO, with her husband, Steve, and her muses: Arie, a cat who was dropped in the animal shelter’s night box like an overdue library book, and Rosie, a dog who spent her first year homeless in South Dakota and thinks Colorado is downright balmy. From her website.









Friday, June 19, 2020

“The Rivals” - A Short Story by Jonah Rosenfeld- 1929- translated from Yiddish by Rachel Mines - 2019 - included The Rivals and Other Stories - Published by Syracuse University Press



“The Rivals” - A Short Story by Jonah Rosenfeld- 1929- translated from Yiddish by Rachel Mines - 2019 - included in  The Rivals and Other Stories - Published by Syracuse University Press

Syracuse University Press is a world leader in the publication of Jewish heritage books.



The Rivals: “Konkurentn.” In Geklibene Verk, vol. 3 (Konkurentn Dertseylungen), 7–23. Vilnius: B. Kletskin, 1929.

As Rachel Mines tells us in her introduction to the collection most Yiddish fiction of the late 19th century and early 20th century

“A significant portion of the literature written in Yiddish and translated into English over previous decades presents a rather stereotyped and sentimental perspective on the European Jewish experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: a shtetl life, not without its hardships and conflicts, but based on a firm bedrock of tight-knit Jewish families and communities.”

The stories of Jonah Rosenfeld, if the total story, “The Rivals” is an indication, present a side of shtetl life far from the world of Fiddler on the Roof.  The stereotype of a shtetl  Ashkenazi family involves a very close knit family, though not without some drama.  The father is knowledgeable in Talmudic lore and Ashkenazi tradition.  He is totally devoted to his family.  The wife is a dedicated homemaker.  A big family concern is finding good marriage matches for the children.  Respect for the father as the head of the family, even if his wife really runs things,is a given.  There is a deep family love bonding everyone, through good and bad times.

  Rosenfeld takes us into a very different world, lacking in sentimentality or reverence for tradition.  The stories of Jonah Rosenfeld, if the total story, “The Rivals” is an indication, present a side of shtetl life far from the world of Fiddler on the Roof,without sentimentality or a rose colored picture of family life, one in which love never turns to hate.





Jonah Rosenfeld (AKA Yonah Rozenfeld)

Born 1881 in Staryi Chortoryisk, Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire

1921 - Emigrates to New York City

Died July 9, 1944 in New York  City


“The Rivals” is narrated by a married man with a daughter ten, a son seven and one two.  His descriptions of his children are far from flattering, none sound healthy or well cared for.  Here is how he describes himself and his daily routine:

“A short man with a thin little beard and small black eyes—that’s me, myself, I—the husband of the wife and the father of the three kids. What do I do? Nothing at all—I do women’s work. Early in the morning, as soon as I get up, I start a fire and boil a kettle of water. Then I wake up my wife, give her a glass of tea, and walk her to the market. After that, I start with the kids: I get them dressed, wash them, and keep an eye on them.”

At lunch time he goes to take some food to his wife who supports the family selling vegetables at the market.  Inevitably a fight breaks out, clearly his wife is humiliated to have such a husband.  He describes violent encounters where they hit each other and he ends up leaving the house.  When he comes back he will look through the window.  The ten year old daughter is taking care of her brothers, helping her mother.  The narrator sees this as a threat.  She is trying to show his wife he is unnecessary, a useless drain on the family.

As the story develops we see a very real rivalry develop with the daughter not hiding her contempt for her father.  Rosenfeld portrays  family turmoil in a way I have not see before in Yiddish literature.
They come to hate each other.

I will leave the very striking close of the story untold.

From the publisher Syracuse University Press

“This collection Introduces nineteen of Rosenfeld’s Yiddish-language short stories—stories that explore the limits of loneliness, social anxiety, and people’s frustrated longing for meaningful relationships—to an English-reading audience.

From reviews
"Highly readable and enjoyable."—Gennady Estraikh, New York University

"This comprehensive collection of Jonah Rosenfeld’s piercing short fiction is an original contribution to the art of Yiddish short fiction in English translation."—Jan Schwarz, Lund University

"Mines' translation into readable, contemporary English grants overdue recognition to a writer whose work has been called by the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe "a hidden treasure of modern Yiddish literature.""—Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations

I look forward to reading the other eighteen stories in the collection.

I offer my thanks to Rachel Mines for making his work available in English

Rachel Mines has a PhD from King’s College, University of London (2000), where she specialized in Old English language and poetry. A child of Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors, she has been studying Yiddish language and literature since 2007. One of her goals in translation is to make Yiddish literature available to college and university students, Jewish and non-Jewish, who would not otherwise be exposed to it. Rachel has taught at King’s College (London), the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), and now teaches at Langara College in Vancouver, where she lives. Aside from Yiddish, she is also involved in Holocaust education and outreach in Skuodas, Lithuania, where her father was born and raised. Her project website is www.shtetlshkud.com.

Mel u




















Thursday, June 18, 2020

“Boys Go to Jupiter” - A Short Story by Danielle Evans - from Best American Short Stories 2018 - selected and introduced by Roxane Gay

“Boys Go to Jupiter” - A Short Story by Danielle Evans - from Best American Short Stories 2018 - selected and introduced by Roxane Gay

First published  in the Sewanee Review, Volume 125, Number 4, Fall 2017

You may read today’s story here

Website of Danielle Evans

A very interesting interview with Danielle Evans

After reading what Roxane Brown said about “Boys Go to Jupiter” by Danielle Evans I decided to start Best American Short Stories there:

“In “Boys Go to Jupiter,” Danielle Evans writes a sly, subtle story about friendship and grief, but also about race and youth and small transgressions that become unintended acts of damage and defiance. “Boys Go to Jupiter” is one of the finest short stories I’ve ever read, and it embodies the ways in which fiction can be political without being heavy-handed or unnecessarily didactic.”

As the story opens Claire, in her late teens is at the beach with a boyfriend.  She is wearing a bikini whose bottom displays a Confederate flag.  As everyone should know by now, in the United States many see displaying the flag as an affirmation of racism.  Claire did not really mean anything by it.  Her current boyfriend gave it to her so she wore it when at the beach with him.  He snaps a picture of her bending over on his truck.  Big trouble starts after
the picture is posted on social media.


Claire is a college student living in a resident hall.  Her mother passed away a few years ago  and her father has moved to Florida with his girl friend Poppy.  There is some bad feelings over this.

An African American dorm mate of Claire’s is very offended.  Claire begins to get very negative E mail and social media comments, along with some support.  She hangs an image of the flag from her window and slips a meant to be friendly note under her dorm mate’s door written on a picture of a confederate flag. She files a complaint on Claire with university authorities.

Evans takes us back into the childhood of Claire, we learn from the second grade on her best friend was an African American girl.  She had a close friendship with a young African American man.  Evans brilliantly develops the past of Claire.

I don’t want to say to much about the so interesting plot developments.  We see how deeply racism and anti-racism control much of American culture.  The characters are very well developed.

Roxane Gay was right, this is a wonderful story.

There Is much more in this story than I have mentioned.


I liked this story so much I bought her Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self and look forward to reading all the stories.
.

DANIELLE EVANS is the author of the story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, winner of the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright Award, the Paterson Prize, and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 selection. Her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies including the Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, New Stories from the South, and The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, and 2017. She teaches creative writing at Johns Hopkins University..— from Best American Short Stories 2018

Mel u
















Wednesday, June 17, 2020

“Eveline" by James Joyce (1914, 4 pages, in  Dubliners) - A Post in Observation ov Bloom’s Day






“Eveline" by James Joyce (1914, 4 pages, in The Dubliners)

A Post in Observation of Bloomsday June 16, 2020


James Joyce

Born: 2 February 1882, Rathgar, Ireland
Died: 13 January 1941, Zürich, Switzerland

Dubliners - 1914

A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man - 1916

Ulysses - 1922

Finnegan’s Wake 1939

Ulysses by James Joyce (1888-1941 Dublin) takes place on June 16, 1904.    Every year for a long time now Bloomsday (Leopold Bloom was the central character of the book) is observed in Dublin and elsewhere by oral readings of parts or even all of Ulysses in marathon sessions.  This year the traditional Observations in Dublin are taking place online due to The Pandemic.

For eight years now The Reading Life has observed Bloomsday.


During Irish Short Story Week I   a number of people posted on a short story by James Joyce.   I posted on his "The Sisters" on "The View from Mount Parnassus Day".    I also posted on Joyce's "The Dead" on Blooms Day June 17, 2010.     This week I want to post on a beautiful short work that goes deeply into the heart of a young woman, "Eveline"



Whether or not Ulysses is the greatest novel of the 20th century is a matter of literary taste. That it Is the most influential is incontestable.   If you love it, if you hate it, or if you see it as  a work that can be read only by those with a serious literary education and lots of reading time,  it cannot be denied its place as the most influential novel of the 20th century (and so far nothing has come along in the 21th century to threaten this position).    About nine years ago I began to overcome a life time misguided aversion to the short story as a literary form.   As I began to read various authors I decided I would read the very best short stories first so I would have something to compare others with.    Stories  in Joyce's  The Dubliner (1914)  were on almost all lists of best Short Stories.

"Eveline", told in the third person, is about a young woman longing to be free but afraid of leaving the only place she has ever known and trapped by feelings of obligation to her family.     She is also somehow trapped by the things in her life.
Her mother is now dead, her father needs to be controlled.   He drinks to much and he used to beat his two sons.       Eveline takes care of the house and fixes the meals.     She longs to get away.    She also works at a store for a harsh woman who cares nothing about her.

Eveline has met a merchant marine.   My first impulse was to think Oh no she has fallen for a sailor in town for a few days.   There is a passage that seems to suggest that Eveline fears being beaten or worse by the father now that she is nineteen and has no one to protect her.    Joyce's prose is beautiful.

" She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence. She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations. When they were growing up he had never gone for her like he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother's sake. And no she had nobody to protect her. Ernest was dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was nearly always down somewhere in the country. Besides, the invariable squabble for money on Saturday nights had begun to weary her unspeakably. She always gave her entire wages -- seven shillings -- and Harry always sent up what h
he could but the trouble was to get any money from her father".

It seems the sailor, Frank, is a decent man.   He wants Eveline to marry him and set sail for Buenes Aires, Argentina where there is a house waiting for them.    The story is set in a time 1000s of people are leaving Ireland and Buenes Aires  was a very frequent destination for Irish emigrants.

I do not wish to tell more of the plot of this brief short story.   As the story closes it seems to me that Eveline has made a mistake but one we can all relate to.

Joyce has compressed several lives into just four pages but really he has compressed much of the history of Ireland.    You can almost feel the loneliness of Eveline.

 


I hope everyone around the world enjoys Bloomsday and that we will all be back next year to observe it again!

I think one powerful reason there are so many wonderful 20th century Irish short story writers is that Joyce set the standard so high.

This is an edited for Style post from June 16, 2012





Mel u

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

“There are Precious Things” - A Short Story by “Alison MacLeod from All the Beloved Ghosts- 2017


“There are Precious Things” - A Short Story by “Alison MacLeod from All the Beloved Ghosts- 2017

Gateway to Alison MacLeod on The Reading Life



This is the ninth Short Story by Alison MacLeod upon which I have posted.  I highly recommend the purchase of her collection, All The Beloved Ghosts.

Like many others in book blog and literary world I have been brought to ponder my priviledged position in the world.  Long ago, almost ten years ago, I stated that The Reading Life was a multicultural book blog dedicated to the goals of literary globalism.  “Literary Globalism”, an expression I made up, has now come to mean doing what little I can to let my readers know about literature that deals with the human consequences of racism, nationalism, anti LGTBQ ideology, sexism, class hatred, religious based hatred and more.  Much of this is a legacy of colonialism and its servant slavery.  Today’s story, set in contemporary London, “There Are Precious Things” shows us the cruel consequences of this in the life of Tanisha, a Nigerian woman living in London.

As the story opens, Tanisha is taking a seat on the 4.38 train out of Mile End Station.  She is running late.  Her mother comes every day to take care of her young son, Obi, but today she got there late.

“Each afternoon, when Obi comes home from school, she looks at his new drawings or marvels over the words in English he has learned to spell. Then her mother comes – today bearing electric Christmas candles from the Pound Shop – and Tanisha sprints from her door to the Underground. Sometimes she wonders that so much of her life can pass below ground. Each day, she travels from her basement flat to the Central Line, from the Central Line to the Victoria Line and from the Victoria Line to the ladies’ toilets beneath Victoria Station, where she is the evening attendant.”.







MacLeod populates the crowded car Tanisha is in with a cross section of tube riding London
society, of course the posh do not take the tube.  Across from her is Edgar, a  very well mannered man.  When Sister Kate, sixty years old comes in he gives her his seat.  MacLeod gives us a glimpse of her forty years as a nun.  Some Polish construction workers ride for a short time.
Then Lionel gets on. “Lionel feels odd sitting across from a nun with a semen sample in his shirt pocket.”.  Lionel and his wife have been trying with no luck for a while to have children so he is getting himself tested.  There seems an irony in our nun who day dreams of the children she might have add combined with burden of Obi.

We learn more about Edgar:

“He’s one of the nine soloists, and in the fifth verse, the intervals must be perfect. He tries to remember where syllables cluster intricately over a note; where the breath is divided into semibreves. He thought James, their conductor, pompous when he said it, but now he understands: the polyphonic antiphon is, literally, breathtaking.”

Great art saves us even in ugliness of the tube car.

Clifton enters car, he is a retired history teacher, his memory comes and goes.  During his working days he rode the train many times but now he carries a note from his wife telling him at what station
he should leave the train.

The close shows the depth of race based hatred in elements of London society.  The  exit from the train of Tanisha was deeply moving.



Alison MacLeod is a novelist and short story writer. Her most recent book, the story collection 'All the Beloved Ghosts', was shortlisted for The 2018 Edge Hill Prize for best story collection in the UK and Ireland. It was a 'Best Book of 2017' for the Guardian, and a finalist for Canada’s 2017 Governor General’s Award for Fiction.
Her website has a detailed bio.    http://www.alison-macleod.com/


Mel u








































Monday, June 15, 2020

Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles - 1943




Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles - 1943


Born: 22 February 1917, New York, New York, United States
Died: 4 May 1973, Málaga, Spain



Published when she was twenty six to an initial luke warm reception by baffled critics, Two Serious Ladies is now viewed by many, myself included, as a work of genius, if a fey one.

As you might guess, it centers on two ladies, back in 1943 being called a “lady” still carried connotations of gentility and refinement.  Part of the deeper theme, as I see it, of Two Serious Ladies, is a presentation of an unraveling of this facade. It is set  in Colon, Panama during a far from undecided World War. Colon is described as “full of nothing but half breeds and monkeys”.  Here one of two serious ladies, Frieda Copperfield, dumps her respectable but boring husband in favour of a teenage prostitute, Pacifica.  She ends up happily, sort of, living with her in a hotel full of the throw offs of Europe looking for an escape from the old world.

As the novel opens we meet other serious lady Christina Goering (I wonder if in 1943 this name brought to mind a then high ranking German or was it a coincidence).  Christina’s father is, we are lead to think, a wealthy American industrialist.  The two women have their own plot lines that do not converge until near the end.  Both women Love to insult others.  There is heavy drinking for sure.  Nobody is sober for long if they can help it.

The treatment of prostitution between Freida and Pacifica is very interesting, female to female sex trade is even now not much written about.  Everyone in Colon has something wrong with them.

The potrait of the residents of Colon may strike many as insensitive.  Terms like “half breed” and “monkeys” need to be fitted into novel and The time.

I read this in My Sister’s Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles.  There are brief articles by Joy Williams and Truman Capote.  Capote was a close friend of Jane and her husband and offers very interesting memories. Joy Williams was given the  collection by her mother, first published in 1966, when she was sixteen and dreamed of being a writer.   She shares with us her first reaction:

“I did not know what to make of this object at all. There was no discernible narrative strategy. There was no way of explaining or analyzing the processes at work. Interpretation was useless. The vistas were dispiriting, the food foul, the wind always howling. Her people were mournful, impulsive, and as erratic in their peculiar journeys’ flights as bats. They were very often drunk. They thought continuously, obsessively, but had no thoughts exactly, no helpful method of perceiving the world or their positions in it. As Miss Goering, one of the serious ladies, remarks just before committing herself to an unsavory adventure.”


There are six Short Stories and several  fragments and a play in the collection.  Truman Capote says her best work is the story, “Camp Cataract” and I hope to read it soon.

There is a concise bio of Jane Bowles at Paulbowles.org




“Jane Bowles's total body of work consists of one novel, one play, and six short stories. Yet John Ashbery said of her: "It is to be hoped that she will be recognized for what she is: one of the finest modern writers of fiction in any language." Tennessee Williams called her the most underrated writer of fiction in American literature. During her lifetime and since her death in 1973, she has been considered a writer's writer, little known to the general public but with a loyal following of intensely devoted readers. “ from Paulbowles.com. By Millicent Dillon

I highly recommend Millicent Dillon’s introduction to The Library of America edition of The Works of Jane Bowles

https://www.loa.org/news-and-views/1238-millicent-dillon-the-originality-and-emotional-power-of-jane-bowles

I have not seen The L O A edition, it has works not in The FSG collection, but no published works just fragments and letters.At $7.95 for the Kindle edition by FSG versus $30.00 for the hard back LOA, go for the Kindle.


Jane Bowles lives on in hearts of her readers, sadly to most just Mrs. Paul Bowles.


Mel u















Sunday, June 14, 2020

“I Will Follow You” - A Short Story by Roxanne Gay - The lead story in her 2017 Collection Difficult Women



“I Will Follow You” - A Short Story by Roxane Gay - The lead story in her 2017 Collection Difficult Women

Roxane Gay is one of the most celebrated of contemporary writers, for her essays as well as her fiction.  This is my first venture into her work.  I hope to read all of her work, Essays, Novels, Short Stories and next her memoir Hunger.

“I Will Follow You” is about two sisters and their very close relationship.  The story begins with a scene with the older sister, her boyfriend and the younger of the two sisters.  We learn a bit about the men currently in their lives.  About twenty five percent into the story we learn about something horrible that was done to them as pre-adolescents that shapes their remaining days.

This is just such a powerful story I don’t want to say more.

This story can be read in the Kindle sample of Difficult Women

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects. From Roxanegay.com

Friday, June 12, 2020

WE ARE PART OF THIS - A Short Story by Ruby Cowling - October 30, 2017 - first published in The Forge


WE ARE PART OF THIS - A Short Story by Ruby Cowling - October 30, 2017 - first published in The Forge

You can read today’s story here



“We Are Part of This” is included in Ruby Cowling’s collection of short stories, This Paradise.  This makes the third story by Ruby Cowling upon which I have posted.

As the story opens, we are with a group of women who are on some sort of retreat, a common corporate thing in pre-pandemic days:

“We sit in our circle of twelve, working on our dolls, the dinky central fire doing its best against the April damp. Then Greta puts on her robe and leaves the tent to do her holy things, and as always, Phil follows. We stretch, look at each other, and scurry down to the illicit realm of chat.
We determine that a) today must be Tuesday; b) everyone has a battering headache (except Jeanette, who never touches caffeine); and c) no, it’s not our imagination: the rain hasn’t stopped since Sunday night. It was soothing at first, coming in waves, cycles, but its failure to stop—ever—has begun to feel personal. It’s pittered, pattered, petered out only to peter back in. It’s settled and softened to a radio fuzz, lulling us into stepping outside, soaking us through before we realise. At other times it’s hardened suddenly, becoming a pelting, hammering harbinger on the put-upon canvas, and we’ve had to shout.
We’ve been on this camp since Saturday. We dream of hot showers, our own pillows, food you don’t eat with a spoon”

The story, narrated by a participant,evolves into the women trying to see what they are supposed to get out of the experience.  The story is a painfully accurate satire of political correctness in the coporate world:

“We don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing—it’s been trailed only as a celebration of femininity: fecundity, friendship, general non-penile things—but we do know we will have to take the risk of expressing ourselves, perhaps through dance, or spontaneous poetry. We might have to take our clothes off. We’re already referring to it as The Big One, and it looms like a bear.”

The director’s helper, a man, is called her “right hand woman”, I laughed and groaned over this, having worked in the corporate world.

As the story goes on the women, who paid £500 for the retreat, work on their dolls.  The big finale for the retreat is the presentation of the finished dolls.  

There is a lot in this story.  The characters are well developed and each is unique.  

I really enjoyed this story, it is funny and wise.  It is lightly mocking in tone puncturing pretensions.

Maybe retreats like this are now out of the picture as we enter a new “normal”.  

Author bio



Ruby Cowling was born in Bradford and now lives in London. This Paradise is her first book. Her stories have won The White Review Prize (2014) and the London Short Story Prize (2014) among others and been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Lighthouse, The Letters Page, Unthology, and The Lonely Crowd. . 

Print Media Praise

‘Admirably ambitious in scope, Ruby Cowling explores big themes – climate change and natural disaster, technology and survival – using strange and sometimes fantastical imagery to trace the obscure edges of human experience.’ Alice Ash, Times Literary Supplement
‘The most original short stories I’ve read in a long time … current, entertaining, and relevant. Highly recommended.’ Jimena Gorraez, Litro
‘The range of Cowling’s style and subject matter is impressive … This Paradise is a beautiful and highly original collection.’ The Spectator
‘Ruby Cowling offers a call-to-arms, an urgent encouragement to breathe complexity back into a human experience made simple. We will be recorded, we will be flattened and reduced. But we can record too.’ Jon Doyle, Review 31
‘Most stories have their ‘home’ audience. But when fiction crosses that inner ring, and survives to tell its tale, well – that’s art. And This Paradise achieves that handsomely.’
Tamim Sadikali, Open Pen

I hope to post on many more works by Ruby Cowling.

Mel u














Wednesday, June 10, 2020

“Letters” - A Short by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn - 1954 - Translated from Yiddish by Miranda Cooper -2020



“Letters” - A Short by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn - 1954 - Translated from Yiddish by Miranda Cooper 2020



Born 1905 in Novvoradomsk, Poland

Immigrated 1904 to Montreal, with her parents

Passes on in 1975 in Montreal

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn was a long time preformer in the Montreal Yiddish Theater.  Second to New York City, Montreal had a large number of Yiddish immigrants.  While merging with much success into Canadian society, they cherished their heritage.

In addition to acting, Hamer-Jacklyn was a very frequent contributor of short stories to Yiddish language periodicals.

On January 9 2019 I posted upon two Short Stories by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn included in The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles Forman

In a Museum". 1954 - tranlated by Ida Wynberg

"She Found an Audience" 1954 - translated by Alisa Poskanger


I was very happy to find on The 2020  Digital Edition of Pakn Treger  from The Yiddish Book Center a story that can be read online, “Letters”.

You may read this story here.


“Letters” is set on a ship leaving from New York City to Rio de Janeiro.  A thirty six year old woman has accepted the invitation of an aunt to relocate in Brazil.  She carries with her letters dating back 18 years to very recently from a married man with whom she had a very long running relationship.  When they first meet he tells her he will soon divorce his wife and marry her.  Now she goes on deck trying to get up the nerve to throw the letters in the ocean.  Letters begin to come in from all over Europe as his business grows.  He always tells her how much he loves her and how his wife will not consent to a divorce.  As we read the letters we see he obviously has no plans to actually marry her.

The woman’s agony as she cannot stand to admit it has all been deception are very well developed in just a few pages.

I liked this story a lot.

Here is a sample:

“Nina leaned over the railing of the ship. Her outstretched hand, trembling as it clutched a small box, was extended toward the sea. Soon she would open her hand and the sea would swallow up all the letters that had brought her warmth, promised her happiness, for so many years. She used to call it her “sacred box,” and because of it she had given away the best years of her life; now it seemed tainted, deceitful. She could neither keep the letters with her nor part with them.
She had been between water and sky for twelve days. Almost every evening, when the sky above the endless ocean began to darken, Nina would come out to the deck and station herself by the railing. For the life of her, she could not bring herself to fling the letters overboard once and for all, to let them decompose on the ocean floor. Day after day, she would stay until nightfall and then bring the box back to her cabin.
She would read them over one more time, and tomorrow it would happen, she decided resolutely. She wanted to arrive in the unfamiliar place free of the nightmare that had held her captive for half her life. She had given eighteen of her thirty-six years to Jacob Waldman.”




Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn (1905–1975) Born in Novoradomsk, Poland, Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn immigrated to Canada in 1914. Captivated by the Yiddish theatre in Toronto, she began her career as an actress and singer at sixteen. Retaining her love of Yiddish as well as her dramatic connection with the theatre, her short stories serialized in the Canadian Yiddish daily Der Keneder Adler, as well as in major literary journals, depict a wide range of subjects spanning shtetl life, Holocaust narratives, and women’s search for creative expression in America. Her collection of short stories, including Lebens un gestalten ( Lives and Portraits) and Shtamen un tsveygn ( Stumps and Branches), published in the 1940s and 1950s, were received with critical acclaim. From The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles Forman


Miranda Cooper is a New York–based writer, editor, and literary translator. Her translations from Yiddish have been published in Jewish Currents and Pakn Treger, and her literary and cultural criticism has been published by Kirkus Reviews, Jewish Currents, Tablet, JTA, In geveb, Alma, the Jewish Book Council, and the Yiddish Book Center. She currently serves as an editor of In geveb and was a 2019 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fe

Monday, June 8, 2020

“New Bosses” A Short Story by Avrom Reyzen - translated from Yiddish by Curt Leviant - 2020

“New Bosses” A Short Story by Avrom Reyzen - translated from Yiddish by Curt Leviant - 2020 -

Published in 2020 in the Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue,  from The Yiddish Book Center

You may read today’s story here.

Born: 10 April 1876, Dzyarzhynsk, Belarus

Moved to New York City in 1911

He begins a very prolific literary career with thousands of published works, for many years he contributed a weekly short story to the Forvert, the leading Yiddish language publication in America


Died: 31 March 1953, New York, New York, United States

I last read a work by Avrom Reyzem January 20, 2019. My post with a link to another story is here.

This is the third short story by a Yiddish language author I have so far read this month.  Like the prior two stories, “New Bosses” is sbout getting used to life in America.

The story is focused on a rabbi , getting used to his New York City
congregation versus the old days back in Russia.  Back home he was secure in his social position, less so now.  People no longer look up to him just because he is a rabbi.  On the good side, he no longer has any problems feeding his family as he once did.

“After the several more-or-less lean years that the rabbi, Reb Zerach, had experienced in his shtetl, the first part of his life in America seemed surely like a dream.
Here, food was plentiful. If only in his old age he had an appetite to match, for back home in the shtetl he had already gotten out of the habit of eating. But he was pleased that his second wife, fifteen years younger than he, and the smaller children were no longer wanting and, indeed, were content.
Contrary to his life in the shtetl, occasionally he would sigh: “Too many worldly pleasures . . .”
But the rabbi would have been less troubled had he been secure with his congregational position. This English word congregation was far more difficult for him than a Russian word back in the shtetl. Nevertheless, it was a friendly, homey congregation, named for that same shtetl where he had served as rabbi. The people here were vastly different. True, they all came from the shtetl, but they weren’t the same anymore. They had changed, particularly in their behavior, as if they’d assumed new identities. Even the gabbai of the shul had no beard or mustache. This bothered the rabbi. Back home he wouldn’t even have deigned to speak to such a man, but here he was obliged to talk to him, and politely too, as if with a superior.”

The leaders of his New York City temple stop by his house.  They tell him to spice up  his sermons, more fire less quoting from the Talmud. He is offended but he knows this is a new world.

The conversation of the rabbi and his wife is a gem:

“What’s wrong with me?” the rabbi repeated. “I don’t know myself . . . All this isn’t for me . . . They tell me I must adapt, become less of a greenhorn . . . Who knows? Perhaps I ought to shave off my beard,” he said, looking at his wife with a bitter smile.
“They’re not asking you to shave off your beard,” she said earnestly. “But you should remember that you’re not back home. It’s a new world here, Zerach . . . and perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to comb your beard.”
“And buttering up these gruff boors wouldn’t hurt either, right? Isn’t that so, rebbetzin?” the rabbi said in a louder tone than usual.
“Buttering up? God forbid!” his wife said as if frightened. “But you have to be friendly with them. They’re all rich here, may the evil eye spare them. They live like lords.”
“But what happens if they don’t like my sermons? There’s too much Torah erudition for them—so what should I do?” The rabbi almost burst into tears.
“Don’t worry, you’ll catch on! Why don’t you drop in on another shul and listen to their rabbi’s sermon? Throw in a word of English. Remember, the shtetl is gone, and I don’t miss it at all.”


This is a fun story.  I do not know when it was first published.  If you do let us know.

Curt Leviant has translated several volumes of works by Sholom Aleichem, Chaim Grade, and other leading Yiddish prose artists. Some of his own ten critically acclaimed novels have been translated into Hebrew and into nine European languages.




















Friday, June 5, 2020

The First Patient -A Short Story by Fradel Shtok - 1919 - translated from Yiddish by Jordan Finkin - 2020





The First Patient -A Short Story by Fradel Shtok - 1919 - translated from Yiddish Jordan Finkin - 2020


The Translation is published in the 2020 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue



You may read today’s story here


1890 born Skale, Galacia in Austro-Hungaria

1907 - Immigrates to New York City

1952 - died in New York City in a mental hospital ( this date is found in some sources) little is know about her life after 1919.  The collection in which this story appeared in 1919
 received a scathing review in the Yiddish Press and she withdrew from most literary contacts after that. I could not determine if she ever married or had children. Her mother died when she was one and her father was sent to prison for murder before she moved to New York City.  Some say she supported herself as a seamstress.

A standard immigrate parent cliche is the sacrifices to get their son through medical school, even a dentist is very big matter .

In this story a young man fresh out of dental school is in the room with his first patient, a woman who needs a tooth pulled. His parents are in the waiting room.  They are going crazy wondering how their son is doing.  When they hear cries of pain the father peeps through the keyhole to try to see what is happening.

As the woman leaves a drama ensues about if she will pay on the way out and how much.  Watching this was a lot of fun.  In just a few pages we learn not only about the family but the patient as well.

“When the new dentist, Turner, a young man of twenty-one, received his first patient he became flustered, turned red, and spoke too much. His parents were sitting in the waiting room watching. After working so long for that diploma, they wanted to get a little joy from it.
Turner guided the patient—a middle-aged woman—into the private exam room, sat her in the chair, and closed the door behind him.
When the dentist’s mother heard the patient in the other room, she actually leapt up from her seat and blurted out, “A patient!” Her husband restrained her, “Shh, sit still.” And when she couldn’t sit still and went to have a look through the crack in the door, he got angry: “Stop running around like that, you’ll frighten the patient.”
When their son came out to get something, the two of them stood up. “Who is it?”
“A patient.”
“What does she want?”
“A tooth pulled.”
The father moved closer to him. “Look, son, this is it, your big chance.”
The son was offended. “Papa, what’s the matter with you?”
“No, don’t be mad. I won’t say any more: just be careful.”

I have access to one more short story by Fradel Shtok and will read soon.


“Born at the edges of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the small village of Skala, Fradel Shtok (1890–1990) immigrated to New York at around the age of eighteen. She began publishing her poetry in a variety of venues and quickly made a name for herself as an up-and-coming poet. In her modernist poetry she experimented with classic forms, notably the sonnet. Shtok also wrote and published short fiction, including her only book-length collection of Yiddish prose, Gezamlte ertseylungen (1919). The settings of these stories tack back and forth between the edges of the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and the bustle of Jewish immigrants in New York. These modernist tales deal with the travails of young women looking for love and desire in a world that spurns them and with the strivings and disappointments of immigrant life in New York. This story, “The First Patient,” features a young dentist seeing one of his first patients. Accompanying him are his overbearing parents, kibitzing and intervening in his practice. At once broad comedy and a sensitive character sketch from multiple perspectives, “The First Patient” is a subtle vignette of immigrant life through Shtok’s modernist narrative lens. We are currently at work on a translation of a selection of these stories” -Jordan Finkin and Allison Schachter




Wednesday, June 3, 2020

“The Faery Handbag” - A Short Story - 2005 -Lead work in her collection Magic for Beginners.

“The Faery Handbag” - A Short Story - 2005 -Lead work in her collection Magic for Beginners.

The Fairy Handbag" was the winner of the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and the 2005 Locus Award for Best Novelette. It was also nominated for the 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story

Kelly Link was a 2018 MacArthur Genius Grant winner.  The announcement on the MacArthur Website has a very good over view of her importance.

Website  of Kelly Link- Today’s story and several others are linked here.

My post from May 22, 2015 on “Valley of the Girls” by Kelly Link

As i concluded my post on “Valley of The Dolls” by Kelly Link I remarked I wanted to read more of her stories soon.  Soon has turned into a five year hiatus.

“The Fairy Handbag” is the lead story in Kelly Link’s collection, Magic for Beginners.  I like stories about fairies so I read it.  It is tremendously fun, imaginative and a perfect lock down read taking you far from mundanities of this grim period.

The story revolves around Genevieve, a girl in her early teens, and her relationship to her a bit strange grandmother and a magic handbag of dog skin.

“Zofia claims to be from the country Baldeziwurlekistan and also to be the guardian of a community of fairies who now live in her black handbag. She often tells outlandish tales about the beings in her handbag and blames them for her overdue movies and library books. Things take a turn for the worse when Genevieve's boyfriend, Jake, snatches Zofia's handbag with the intent of finding out if the stories about it are true.” From Wikepedia

I Googled Baldeziwurlekistan, it seems purely fictional but perhaps in western Armenia.  When ever villagers in Baldeziwurlekistan
are threatened by raiders they retreat into a Handbag made of Dog skin.  There is magic at work here.  A person can stay in the handbag twenty years.  When they emerge twenty years have past, but they are only three days older. Sofia’s grandmother was the guardian of the handbag.  Unfortunately it got sold to a big vintage clothing market by Genevieve’s boyfriend.

As I said five years ago, I hope to read more stories by Kelly Link soon.



























Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The First Trip to Coney Island - A Short Story by Sam Liptzin - 1963- translated from Yiddish by Zeke Levine - 2020



The First Trip to Coney Island - A Short Story by Sam Liptzin - 1963- translated from Yiddish by Zeke Levine - 2020

Published in Pakn Treger - 2020 by The Yiddish Book Center.

You may read this story here

Sam Liptzin

Born Belarus - 1893

Immigrates to New York City 1909

Dies New York City 1980

There are numerous stories and novels featuring “Green Horns”.  A green horn was a newly arrived from Eastern Europe or Russia immigrate still naive to the ways of New York City.  A big right of passage experience was often their first trip to Coney Island.  There was no place like it back home.  Coney Island was a symbol of The Wonders of America.  Just getting  there was an adventure:



“Eight of the family—cousins and friends—went with “Shepsl the Greenhorn” to Coney Island. They traveled by streetcar, for a nickel, shlepping themselves two or three hours. On the way, the Americanized members of the family told Shepsl all about the wonderful and magical things they would see. “There’s Luna Park,” said one cousin. “Do you know what happens there? I don’t need to tell you; you’ll see for yourself soon enough.” Another cousin chimed in, “Nu, and what about Steeplechase? When we get on, you won’t know if you’re in the air or on the ground.” And Esther threw in her two cents: “There’s nothing wrong with just walking around, hearing the excited screaming, seeing the ‘little people,’ seeing the girl who’s half human and half fish, or winding through a dark tunnel in a little boat, where you might get a kiss,” she laughed.”

We see a cousin was a suitable romantic interest.

“The First Trip to Coney Island” takes well under five minutes to read, a fun, funny, poignant five minutes.  I look forward to reading Zeke Levine’s forthcoming collection of Short Stories by Sam Liptzin.

The link to the story contain a brief bio of Sam Liptiz


Zeke Levine is a doctoral student in historical musicology at New York University, where his research focuses on Yiddish language songs of mid-20th-century America. An alumnus of the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program and the Yiddish Book Center Fellowship, Zeke is also a 2019 Translation Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center; he is translating a book-length collection of Sam Liptzin’s writings

My thanks to Zeke Levine for taking us back to Coney Island circa 1920.

There is a detailed article on the history of Coney Island here


Mel u
















Monday, June 1, 2020

The Reading Life Review- May 2020

May Authors 



Row 1

1. Anton Chekhov - Russia
2. Ivy Ngeow - Malaysia to London - Author Overboard and numerous other works, highly talented in both music and literature, we expect to feature her many more times
3. Ruby Cowling - UK - author This Paradise, we plan to feature another one of her stories in June
4. Farah Ahmed - Kenya to UK - Farah Ahamed is a short fiction writer. Her stories have been published in The Massachusetts Review, Thresholds, Kwani?, The Missing Slate and Out of Print among others. She was highly commended in the 2016 London Short Story Prize, joint winner of the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award and has been nominated for The Caine and The Pushcart prizes. She has been featured eight times on The Reading Life,all of her additional works will be featured

Row 2

1. Mavis Gallant - Canada to France
2. Joseph Opatosha. - Poland to USA
3. Elaine Chiew -Malaysia to Singapore - author of a a highly regarded debut collection, The Heartsick Diaspora.  Her work has been featured 15 times on The Reading Life. We Will follow her closely.

Row 3

1. Nancy Eisenberg - U.S.A - author of Aaron Burr: A Biography
2. Alison MacLeod - Canada to UK. Highly regarded Multi-genre writer.  Her Short stories have been featured six times, more to come.
3. Arn Meyer -Poland to U.S.A - an important Yiddish writer

Rokhl Bernshteye was also featured.  We could find no images of her work.  She was born in Minsk. Yehudis was her surname
Pseudonym1869–1942), Yiddish poet and writer. Virtually forgotten today, Yehudis is notable for her bold poems, several dramatic pieces, short stories, fragments of a novel, translations from Russian, and a memoir of her youth. Born into a well-to-do merchant family in Minsk, Bernshteyn was educated by private tutors and began working in her parents’ shop at age 12. Her subsequent exposure to the socialist movement, and through it to Russian culture, led her to read widely on her own.

Home Countries of May Authors

1. Malaysia - 2
2. Canada - 2
3. Russia - 2
4. UK - 1
5. U.S.A - 1
6. Kenya - 1
7. Poland - 1

Works by 8 women were featured and 3 men.  Five authors are deceased. Three writers had their initial feature in May

The Reading Life is a Multi-Cultural Book Blog dedicated to The Goals of Literary Globalism.


Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among our Interests


Blog Stats

The Reading Life has as of today received 6.040,026 page views

There are currently 3,747 posts online

The five post viewed posts in May were

1. Piegeon Pie by Nancy Mitford
2. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
3. “The New Doll” - A Short Story by Rabindranath Tagore
4. “Sugra” - A Short Story by Farah Ahamed
5. “Kingdom Come” - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant

The top home countries for May were U.S.A, Philippines, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, India, UK and Bangladesh.

This is the first appearance of Bangladesh in the list.

Blog traffic rates are down about fifty percent from pre-pandemic days.  We predict once universities World wide open rates will exceed the past.

Future Plans

Much of our Reading Plans hopes are pictured in our side bar.
We Will probably continue focusing on Short Stories.

In July We Will once again Participate in Paris in July.

There are a number of Yiddish Short Stories Mel wishes to feature soon.

To our fellow book bloggers, among the world’s greatest readers, don’t give up.

Mel offers his thanks to Max u for The Amazon gift cards

To those who take the trouble to leave comments, you help keep us going.

I hope everyone is staying safe, at home with a good book


Ambrosia Bousweau - European Director




















1.