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Archives > [F2F Book Discussions] F2F71: November 2017 [Midlist Writers]: Three Short Stories

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message 1: by Angus (last edited Nov 13, 2017 01:24PM) (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments Hello! For our F2F this coming November, Monique, Bennard, and I will lead the discussion about three short stories from three midlist writers. Midlist writers? Well, we loosely define this as writers who are not popular enough. The selection can be a bit contentious if we try to stick to a standard set of criteria, if any. And it's still going to be largely subjective anyway. Besides, short stories can be great whether or not they are authored by midlisters.

We're going to start with our first short story next week. But first, let's throw around some questions while waiting.

Warmup Qs:

1. Do you like short stories? Why or why not? Tell us about your favorite short story/short story writer/short story collection/anthology.
2. Is there a short story from a midlist writer that you think should be read more?

* * *

Week 1: The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor by Deborah Eisenberg
Week 2: Tell Me, Please by Emily Chammah
Week 3: Secretary by Mary Gaitskill


message 2: by Angus (last edited Oct 23, 2017 11:26AM) (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments Warmup Qs:
(view spoiler)


message 3: by Bennard (new)

Bennard | 730 comments Warmup Qs:
(view spoiler)


message 4: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments Warmup Qs:
(view spoiler)


message 5: by Tin (new)

Tin (rabbitin) | 560 comments Warm Up Qs:(view spoiler)


message 6: by Angus (last edited Oct 30, 2017 10:19AM) (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments I've selected Deborah Eisenberg as my midlist short story writer.

Eisenberg has put out four short story collections during the span of her career. She admits that she writes at a glacially slow pace. To prove this point, a few of her stories took years to be finished.

If you like NYRB books, you might have encountered her in the introductions that she wrote for some of the books published by the NYRB Classics imprint. If you also remember Charlie Hebdo, she was arguably the key person who lead the protest of PEN's awarding ceremony when the institution decided to bestow the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the aforementioned magazine. This protest was later supported by 150 or so other writers, including the likes of Peter Carey, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Taiye Selasi, Junot Diaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, and Michael Cunningham.

If such a person could influence these writers, perhaps one should take the time to read at least one of her short stories. Eisenberg's characters often hang suspended in their own lives; ambivalent, undecided, worried, waiting for the other shoe to come tumbling down from the heavens. Here's one, The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor (scroll down to get immediately to the story).


message 7: by Angus (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments After reading the story The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor, tell us what you think of Francie. Is she a dynamic or a static character? Did something about her change by the end of the story? Is there something complex about her or is she a stereotype? Is she symbolic of something?


message 8: by Louize (last edited Nov 01, 2017 09:46PM) (new)

Louize (thepagewalker) | 1830 comments Warmup Qs:

(view spoiler)


message 9: by Louize (new)

Louize (thepagewalker) | 1830 comments Angus wrote: "After reading the story The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor, tell us what you think of Francie. Is she a dynamic or a static character? Did something about her change by the end of the story? I..."
(view spoiler)


message 10: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments For the second story, I pick Emily Chammah's "Tell Me, Please."

Emily is a writer and an assistant editor at American Short Fiction, where she co-organizes The Insider Prize, a contest for incarcerated writers in Texas. She is the winner of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, and her fiction can be found in The Common. She works as an immigration paralegal in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

"Tell Me, Please" won for her the 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Award for Emerging Writers, and is collected in PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017. source

Read "Tell Me, Please" here.


message 11: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments On The Girl Who Left Her Sock On The Floor:

I didn't get Francie. She's complicated, but I know that she's sad and lost. She needs help.


message 12: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments Question for the story "Tell Me, Please":

Please share your first impressions of Amal and Omar. Did these impressions last throughout the story, or did it change? Why?


message 13: by Tin (new)

Tin (rabbitin) | 560 comments The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor
(view spoiler)

Tell Me, Please
(view spoiler)


message 14: by Bennard (new)

Bennard | 730 comments For the third story, I pick Mary Gaitskill's "Secretary".

Mary Gaitskill is considered to be one of the better short story writers living in America today. Her work is often about the darker side of living as a female in the United States and her works are populated by characters that is considered to be those that live in the margins of society: prostitutes, drug addicts, and the like.

You might be familiar with the film adaptation of her short story starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Read the story here or here


message 15: by Bennard (new)

Bennard | 730 comments Question for the story "Secretary":

Share your thoughts on Debby and her boss' relationship. Do you think it was equal in terms of what they had to give up and what they ultimately got out of it? What does the story say about the gender politics between men and women?


message 16: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (itslainee) | 227 comments Warmup Qs:
(view spoiler)

The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor
(view spoiler)


message 17: by Tin (new)

Tin (rabbitin) | 560 comments Secretary(view spoiler)


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