"Cold Little Bird," a very good and very disturbing story by Ben Marcus. [SLNYer]
We were in the stage where we couldn’t make serious eye contact for fear of implying we were too invested. We used euphemisms like “I miss you” and “I like you” and smiled every time our noses got too close.[more inside]
“What I’m about to show you,” he says, “you can’t tell a soul about it. If you did, it would be major trouble. Trouble with a capital ‘T.’ ” He sips his drink and tugs the quilt away.Shirley Temple Three by Thomas Pierce
Mawmaw takes a step back. She’s looking at some kind of elephant. With hair.
“Don’t worry. She’s not dangerous,” Tommy says. “Bread Island Dwarf Mammoth. The last wild one lived about ten thousand years ago. They’re the smallest mammoths that ever existed. Cute, isn’t she?”
The mammoth is waist high, with a pelt of dirty-blond fur that hangs in tangled draggles to the dirt. Its tusks, white and pristine, curve out and up. The forehead is high and knobby and covered in a darker fur. The trunk probes the ground for God-knows-what and then curls back into itself like a jelly roll.
“What’s a goshdern Bread Island Dwarf Whatever doing in my yard?” Mawmaw asks.
I born in factory. They put me in wrapper. They seal me in box. Three of us in box. In early days, they move us around. From factory to warehouse. From warehouse to truck. From truck to store. One day in store, boy human sees us on shelf. He grabs us, hides us under shirt. He rushes outside. [more inside]
Jennifer Egan's short story Safari can be read at NewYorker.com (~6600 words), or can be read to you in a wonderful performance by Hope Davis (59:00). Jennifer Egan previously.
Hand On The Shoulder, a short story by Ian McEwan. My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with "plume"), and forty years ago, in my final year at Cambridge, I was recruited by the British security service.
This one particular boy’s goal was to be able to press his lips to every square inch of his own body.
The Invasion From Outer Space: Steven Millhauser gives The New Yorker a short, unsettling sci-fi story.
Where I'm Likely To Find It is a new short story by Japanese author Haruki Murakami (previously discussed here and here). The story is similar in feel to his latest novel, Kafka on the Shore which was released in English this year.
Finally! The New Yorker publishes a short story that's actually worth reading. Tim O'Brien riffs on weight loss and a certain reclusive genius--highly entertaining stuff just right for a sluggish Saturday afternoon. For extra credit: why is so much literary fiction so mind-numbingly dull these days?