Do you ever find yourself wanting to dig in to a nice long juicy book, like The Goldfinch or maybe some hardcore economics like Capital in the Twenty-first Century, but find that your life keeps getting in the way? Might I introduce you to a genre known as the Short Story (remember those)? They're not just for 8th grade English. This time, I'll just tell you about the existential, thought-provoking, and slightly horrifying stories, I wanted to include Dorothy Parker, that lady is sassy, but I think she deserves her own post.
First up, The lottery and other stories by Shirley Jackson
Oh, it's so creepy! In the Lottery, it's a lovely day in June in a nice village filled with a few hundred nice families who all come out to the town square in the morning for the annual lottery. Yay! People chit-chat, they talk about how some towns have done away with their lottery, which is unfathomable to some. The lottery commences and a winner is announced. But the winner violently protests, why? Well, this is the worstest lottery and I won't tell you what happens, but everyone has a pocket full of rocks. This story has been told and retold in fiction and a bunch of scifi movies and tv shows. It brings up thoughts of population control, resource rights and political power and control. If you've seen or read Hunger Games, that's The Lottery. The townspeople seem to think "every year we do this brutal thing, and then we go about our lives until the same time next year, it's normal." This is terrifying because we've all seen this behavior in the news and we know that if we're not careful, the same thing could happen to us.
In Adichie's mostly Nigerian characters confront discrimination, death, heartache and that sinking, disorienting, almost choking feeling you have when you know you're not home. If you've been putting off reading this amazing, award-winning author, give her short stories a try, you'll be hooked.
On a lighter note... but still about death, the one I'm reading now is, Machine of Death : a collection of stories about people who know how they will die. And that's what it is. The Machine doesn't kill you, it just spits out a card with a word or phrase printed on it: CHOKING, CANCER, A COLLISION, ALMOND, AFTER MANY YEARS STOPS BREATHING WHILE ASLEEP WITH SMILE ON FACE, NOTHING. I was really into those last two stories, they were very sweet, most of them are funny, bordering absurd. The machine doesn't tell you when, or really any of the circumstances. After reading these stories, I can't say that, given the chance, I'd want to know, but to each her own. If you're having an existential crisis, these stories might cheer you up.
And if you're into that sort of thing, try Sum : forty tales from the afterlives by David Eagleman. Eagleman is actually some smarty-pants neuroscientist, but he writes some fun and creepy stories.
Is that the end of the blog post?