Polymathic Monthly - Issue #44 Seventeen Short Stories





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Polymathic Monthly

April 8 · Issue #44 · View online

A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

Short stories provide completion. The great short stories provide completion but also leave you with a lingering sense that you’ve just read/heard something that shifted something for you. I’m sure this has been said about other times in our history but the short story absolutely feels like the form for now. The short story has so little time to grip you and, in the words of Ali Smith, consumes you and the great ones do. It might be in the very first line or knock everything else you’ve read in the previous paragraphs with one like at the end. 
There is so much going on at the macro level. Just so much. And when we choose to shift our attention away from the macro, we get hit in the face with the deaths of our heroes. Short stories feel like the right escape for the twenty minutes to an hour that it takes to read an immersive one. A great short story leaves you with little doubt about its completeness. 
Instead of articles this month, I share with you seventeen fantastic short stories from a diverse array of authors. This could have been a list of fifty.
Short Stories
  1. One of the more recent fiction hits was essentially ‘Who is Like God by Akwaeke Emezi placed in the US context. 
  2. ‘Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong’ by Tim O’Brien  flows at a pace that, by the time you get to the end, you know what’s coming but it still seems to come at you too fast.
  3. Sunrise, Sunset by Edwidge Danticat touches on the two greatest fears we have for our parents and for our kids in one fell swoop.
  4. Disease, dying, demons is ‘The Hospital Where by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
  5. The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson: in light of the violent policing of black bodies in America, this one was tough to read. I stopped a few times. It weaves between fiction and fantasy and historic retelling. It’s powerful. And painful.
  6. The barbers shop is a communal space that is legendary in African-American culture. Shape-up at Delilah’s by Rion Amilcar Scott turns all that on it’s head while still managing to hold that culture sacred.
  7. Girl by Jamaica Kincaid, short, sharp and scathing. 
  8. Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, covers their emotions that first generation immigrant children feel about belonging to their parents culture and the desire to belong to the prevailing culture. Throw in a bit of magic origami and let it pull your heartstrings. 
  9. Snow Mountain by Laura Schmitt is fantastic and the violence lurking just beneath the surface is palpable and tangible until the climatic end.
  10. Dad is gone and the lice is still here’ by Kali Fajardo-Anstine about belonging and the innocuous things that become the ties that bind family. 
  11. The Lesson’ by Toni Cade Bamabara is all about the truth as only kids share it.
  12. ‘Inventory’ by Carmen Maria Marchado is about lists, lovers, life, inevitable pain and epidemics. Yes, epidemics. Planet wiping epidemics.
  13. One can relate to the emotions in the story of the unwilling passenger in Amelia Edwards’ ‘The Phantom Coach’. Especially the seeming inevitability of disaster.  
  14. Nirvana’ by Adam Johnson feels like a present day story. That makes it even more disconcerting. 
  15. Chukwuebuka Ibe’s ‘On The Sun-Baked Street’ is a quick story about the devolution of a family and the extents we’ll go to bring pain and joy to our loved ones. 
  16. Can a Cat’ by Olivia Parkes will absolutely ensure that you take lovers spats less seriously. Or more seriously depending on the grand meaning.
  17. Randall Kenan passed away on the same day as Chadwick Boseman. May they both rest in peace. It’s befitting that we read his recent short story ‘God’s Gonna Trouble The Water’.
I read a few books since the last issue - including the phenomenally poetic ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens, ‘Systems Thinking for Social Change’ by David Peter Stroh, ‘Keep Going’ by Austin Kleon, and ‘Uncanny Valley’ by Anna Weiner - but the short stories are the star of the show this month. I do hope you enjoy them and they take you somewhere. Take you away from these dark times we are in. This too shall pass…
All the very best!

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