Winter Reading Program: Week 3 Winner

Cover image for "Object Lessons: The Paris Review presents the Art of the Short Story"

We’re halfway through the Winter Reading Program! After three weeks, we’ve had some great reviews and recommendations. This week has been a doozy — lots of snow, cold temperatures and no promise of a reprieve anytime soon.  That means it’s the perfect time to stay in and curl up with a good book. Week 4 started today at noon and goes until next Friday — plenty of time to read and review. Enjoy!

Here is this week's winning review:

Object Lessons: The Paris Review presents the Art of the Short Story,edited by Lorin Stein and Sadie Stein

Object Lessons is a collection of short stories from the Paris Review. However, this short story collection is a lot more than that. The book claims to be intended for "young writers, and to others interested in literary technique." Twenty contemporary writers chose their favorite short story from the Paris Review. Before each short story there is a small introduction explaining why the authors chose their stories, and how the stories are important for people "interested in literary technique." Many of these introductions focus on the feelings or emotions of a short story, and how authors are able to evoke or show feelings in a short story. Many of the others talk about how it's important that the heart of a short story comes from a humane source. I think this lends a feeling of authenticity to the reader. There's even some Iowa love in this collection. One of the authors featured is Ethan Canin, and he teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

I enjoyed most of the short stories, and one of my favorites was "Ten Stories from Flaubert." The author of this story, Lydia Davis, created this story while working on a new translation of Madame Bovary. She read through Flaubert's letters to two different people, and she thought the letters would make interesting short stories. "Ten Stories from Flaubert" are ten snippets ranging from one paragraph to a few to create a whole short story. It's interesting to see how the different fragments make the whole short work come together. The story is slightly disjointed because of the fragmented storytelling, but it works to form connections between fragments that the reader can create. The blank space between fragments here was an important technique that the author used in an effective way. What interested me the most was thinking about separating fact from fiction because it was impossible to tell the difference between Flaubert and Davis. This one opposition leads to many others within the short story.

Reviewed by: Breona