At the party, Ellen counts a dozen zombies in half-assed costumes, a shredded T-shirt, a smear of fake blood. When she moves, she sweeps her cape dramatically and it feels good. There is dance music and liquor bottles on the kitchen counter and clear plastic cups. Not a shred of food, just booze. She picks up a cup and sees a fat black spider in the bottom and screams.
‘It’s fake, silly.’ Ursula plucks the spider from the cup and nests it in Ellen’s hair. In the driveway, Ellen zipped the girl into the Statue of Liberty costume she’s wearing. At first, she wanted to be a slutty witch, but Ellen talked her into the Statue of Liberty—the tallest iron structure ever built! How could she resist?
The girl vanishes into the party with her fake torch. The song changes. Bodies clump together in the living room. Ellen watches them stomp and thrash. A zombie sucks on a ballerina’s neck.
'Did you know an elephant has as many neurons as a human brain?' she says. 'Did you know that they have nerves in their toenails that help them understand sound?'
‘I didn’t know,’ Ellen says.
Looking for a way to spice up your short story? Add a ghost. “This is going to sound strange, but what your story really needs is a ghost,” Lorrie Moore said in an interview with The New York Times. She discussed her new professorship at Vanderbilt and her new short story collection, Bark, which, yes, does contain a ghost story.
"Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world." At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz’s interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.
With a little help from Chekhov, perhaps 2014 can be the year that we all show a little generosity.
Her mother taught stillness the hard way. Wouldn’t speak to her when she was driving. Told her to get under the blanket whenever she heard voices. Whenever she saw a red-blue scream of sirens. Sometimes she brought Bird things she found when she left the car, broken sunglasses and chipped lawn gnomes and abandoned tool belts. If anyone else ever opened the car door, run like hell.
After death her skin seemed less in agreement of continuation than the rest of her. As the weeks passed it continued to shrivel fast to her bones. Occasionally small pieces would tear and hang like spent wallpaper. Remedies were elusive; Band-Aids and gauze looked too depressing. ‘Collage!’ she screamed one afternoon. Death had added an alarming vocal shrillness. ‘Decoupage!’ Using fabric glue, she began to patch up weary areas using petals from the orchids in the lobby. The weeks went by and her hands and forehead began to take on a masked paper-mache quality.
In 1998, T.C. Boyle released his first massive collection of short stories, titled, appropriately enough, Stories. Clocking in at 700+ pages, the book illustrated the zany profligacy of one our premier short fiction writers. Now Boyle has released a new collection — titled (of course) Stories II — and with it comes a new trailer.