Category Archives: family fiction

Ghosts, Shadows, Empties

Ghosts and Empties by Lauran Groff (2015)

Tuesday’s short story, April 26, 2022

READING FICTION BLOG

 

Have you ever walked, or driven, around your neighborhood and found yourself staring into the windows of houses or apartments? Or on a train when it slows down to travel through a town, do you try to see inside the windows? I’ve been doing this for years and imagine the people who live there. I guess I was looking for evidence of normal life, or maybe seeking to observe something secret. Or maybe just the writer in me, looking for material. It is fun to snoop!

 

 

Lauren Groff writes a little adventure of the mind in Ghosts and Empties. Our character, a woman who is tired and worn out—“a woman who yells”—takes an evening walk and makes some intriguing observations. She brings her shadow with her that “lags behind me, gallops to my feet, gambols on ahead.”

 

What is she looking for here? In some ways, she becomes her own ghost reflected in her world.

Read it here at the New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/ghosts-and-empties

Listen to Author Lauren Groff read Ghosts and Empties, 22-Min:

 

 

Lauren Groff is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel Matrix.  Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne, was a three time finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and twice for the Kirkus Prize, and other literary prizes. She was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

(Nine Stories)

 

Visit Grof’s Amazon Book Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Groff/e/B001JS4QVG

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

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one short story every month. 

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week, Michael Cunningham, November 29

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK    November 29

Michael Cunningham

(Literary, Novelist and Screenwriter)

“I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.”

“Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write.”

“Literature is, inescapably, an act of seduction, whether the writer hopes to seduce millions with a story of an adolescent vampire in love, or a handful of readers, who are willing to take a darker, strange, more enigmatic ride. Which involves a certain element of what I’ll call: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.”

 

Michael Cunningham (born November 1952) is an American novelist and screenwriter, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. He is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University. His fiction includes A Home at the End of the WorldFlesh and BloodSpecimen DaysBy Nightfall, and The Snow Queen, as well as the collection A Wild Swan and Other Tales.

Interview with Michael Cunningham at University of Iowa (20 minutes):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailer for film The Hours:

 

Visit Michael Cunningham’s Amazon Book Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Cunningham/e/B00456O74U 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

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Bittersweet in Toni Morrison’s “Sweetness”

Tuesday’s Short Story,  November 16, 2021

Sweetness  by Toni Morrison  (2015)

I told her to call me “Sweetness” instead of “Mother” or “Mama.” It was safer … calling me “Mama” would’ve confused people. Besides, she has funny-colored eyes, crow black with a blue tint—something witchy about them, too.”

This story will grab you by the throat.  The mother is speaking about her daughter Lula Ann. We all know that how we treat a child has profound effects for a long time, and this is especially true in this story by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. The story is a force about race, parenting, and color—a bit savage too, and so incredibly honest that you will not be able to stop reading. The mother-daughter relationship going on is earth-shattering. I found the storytelling to haunt me to the point where I had to reread it. Heartbreak and redemption, bold, yep, it’s all here in full Morrison raw yet graceful style. This short fiction is a prelude to Morrison’s bestseller God Help the Child.

 

Read it here at New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/sweetness-2

 

Listen to the audio. A marvelous reading! I give it an A+.

https://youtu.be/ltKXTZTBmPs

 

 

Toni Morrison  (1931-2019) was a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, essayist, editor, and  college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Morrison was born Chloe Adelia Wofford; “Toni” is a nickname derived from Anthony her baptismal name, which she began using because people had trouble pronouncing Chloe. She wrote her college thesis on suicide in reference to the work of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. She didn’t own a television until she was in college.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week, Susan Cheever, August 30

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  August 30

Susan Cheever

(Fiction, Memoir, Biography, American History)

“I believe that the memoir is the novel of the 21st century; it’s an amazing form that we haven’t even begun to tap…we’re just getting started figuring out what the rules are.”

“What makes someone want to be a writer? Clearly, one thing this dream requires is a ferocious hunger, a hunger for recognition, a yearning to be heard that roars through the soul with a sound so great that the stories often feel as if they are discovered rather than invented.”

“Obsession is so extreme and so hard to imagine with the rational mind that it has a science-fiction-like quality to it—it’s almost as if the obsessed one has been taken over by a replica, a pod, a facsimile of the rational person. When one is in the grip of an obsession, everything else—children, regular meals, sleep, work—is swept away.”

 

 

Susan Cheever (born 1943), an American author is the recipient of the PEN New England Award. She is daughter of novelist John Cheever. She is best known for Home Before Dark, a memoir about her father, John Cheever, and American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Cheever’s most recent book is Drinking in America: Our Secret History. The book chronicles how alcohol has influenced the history of the United States. Her biographies of Louisa May Alcott and E.E. Cummings are critically acclaimed. Her novels are Doctors and Women, The Cage, A Handsome Man, and Looking for Work. One of her favorite books is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. She grew up in Tarrytown, NY.

Susan Cheever at New York State Writers Institute (4 minutes):

 

Susan Cheever discusses how she resists “memoir shame” and addresses readers curiosity.

Visit Susan Cheever’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Cheever/e/B001IQZHTY

 

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at

Reading Fiction Blog!

 

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story

by contemporary and classic authors.

 

COMMENTS  ARE WELCOME!

 

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Author of the Week, Anne Morrow Lindberg, July 12

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 12

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

(Aviation Pioneer, Diarist, Fiction, Nonfiction, Inspirational Author)

“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.”

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”

“Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906 to 2001), an American author, aviator, and the wife of Charles Lindbergh is the author of the book, Gift from the Sea (considered required reading for every woman in modern society), a bestseller filled with raw emotions on love, happiness, solitude,  contentment, and the path to spiritual harmony. Becoming whole is a dominant theme in many of her works.

“Don’t wish me happiness
I don’t expect to be happy all the time…
It’s gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

She wrote  five volumes of diaries and letters from the years 1922-1944.  North to the Orient and Listen! the Wind, Anne Lindbergh is the author of 11 published books (including children’s books). They include Earth Shine, in which she wrote of being at Cape Kennedy for the first moon-orbiting flight and how that Apollo 8 flight and the pictures it sent back of Earth gave humankind “a new sense of Earth’s richness and beauty.”

Interview with Anne Lindbergh at NPR:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5232208

 

Podcast by Reeve Lindbergh, Anne’s Daughter:

 

Fiction:

 

Dearly Beloved (A June wedding sets the scene as the family and guests follow the familiar marriage service. They are stirred to new insights. But for the mothers of the bride and groom, and for friends and relatives, the sight of the young couple and the words of the minister evoke more troubling thoughts and deeper questions.)

 

 

 

 

 

 The Steep Ascent (Etched in the pattern of flight over France, the Alps, Northern Italy is the story of a young couple, an English flier, and his wife, who is pregnant. One shares first the mother’s last-moment doubts and regrets as she faces last things, particularly the last evening with her five-year-old son).

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Lindbergh’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Morrow-Lindbergh/e/B001H6S0UI

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), June 21

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   June 21

Karen Blixen

(Short Stories, Nonfiction, Memorist)

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”

“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.”

“We must leave our mark on life while we have it in our power.”

“I start with a tingle, a kind of feeling of the story I will write. Then come the character, and they take over, they make the story.”

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.”

Karen Blixen,  1885 to 1962, was a Danish author (pen name Isak Dinesen). A baroness, a farmer, a storyteller. Blixen wrote works in Danish, French, and English and is famously known for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and one of her stories, Babette’s Feast, both of which have been adapted into highly acclaimed, Academy Award-winning motion pictures. She was considered several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Most of her readers have known her to be a woman who fought for women’s rights at a time and in a country that challenged many female liberties.

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills” is the opening lines of  Out of Africa, that romantic adventure that has become a classic in literature and motion pictures.  If you’ve never seen the film, you can stream it easily and it’s a beautiful escape into the mind and imagination of Karen Blixen. If you are a fan of short stories, this is a writer to dive into.

(Karen’s study in Denmark)

In Karen’s home in Copenhagen, garden and bird sanctuary:

Out of Africa, behind the scenes:

 

The Paris Review’s Interview of Karen Blixen, The Art of Fiction:

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4911/the-art-of-fiction-no-14-isak-dinesen

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story

by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Francine Prose, April 12

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  April 12

 

Francine Prose

(Novels, Short Stories, Essayist, Nonfiction)

 

 

“If we want to write, it makes sense to read—and to read like a writer. If we wanted to grow roses, we would want to visit rose gardens and try to see them the way that a rose gardener would.”

“There are many occasions in literature in which telling is far more effective than showing.”

“The mystery of death, the riddle of how you could speak to someone and see them every day and then never again, was so impossible to fathom that of course we kept trying to figure it out, even when we were unconscious.”

Francine Prose (born 1947)  is an American author of twenty-one works of fiction, including the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. She is Visiting Professor of Literature at Bard College, and  formerly president of PEN. Prose is well known for her New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. Her newest book is a collection of essays, What to Read and Why.

Interview with Francine Prose, Harvard Magazine:

https://harvardmagazine.com/2010/09/a-garden-of-prose

 

Interview with Francine at Miami Book Fair:

Reviews

“Francine Prose is a keen observer, and her fiction is full of wryly delivered truths and sardonic witticisms that come from paying close attention to the world.” —The Atlantic

“Francine Prose has a knack for getting to the heart of human nature.” —USA Today

 

Visit Francine Prose Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FJ32YLG

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

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Author of the Week, Richard Yates, March 8

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   March 8

 

Richard Yates

(Literary Fiction and Short Story Writer)

 

“I’m only interested in stories that are about the crushing of the human heart.”

“Never say anything that doesn’t improve on silence.”

“If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.”

Richard Yates  (1926 – 1992) was an American novelist and short story writer.  Yates ruthlessly examines the hopes and disappointments of ordinary people with empathy and humor. He is most famous for his novel Revolutionary Road, a nomination for the National Book Award in 1961. He is also revered as a short story author in his first collection Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, The Collected Stories, and Liars in Love.  Kurt Vonnegut said that Eleven Kinds of Loneliness was ‘the best short-story collection ever written by an American’.  He has been praised by such authors as Michael Chabon, Robert Stone, and Richard Russo, and universally acclaimed in reviews across the country. Macmillian Publishers.

We here at Reading Fiction Blog love short stories. We are discovering and rediscovering authors of short fiction. There is a beauty in finishing a story over a lunch time or reading an entire story in one evening. To say short stories are a great break from novel reading is one thing, but honestly the best thing about shorts stories is that they can motivate you back into daily reading of fiction!

 

In this novel,  Young Hearts Crying, sad and funny, Richard Yates  shows his talents about the American Dream and its casualties.

 

REVIEW: “Soft-spoken in his prose and terrifyingly accurate in his dialogue, Yates renders his characters with such authenticity that you hardly realize what he’s done.” —The Boston Globe.

 

The Making of Revolutionary Road (9 minutes)

 

Read Oprah’s interview at O Magazine:

https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/revolutionary-road-interview-with-richard-yates-daughter/all

 

 

Visit Richard Yates’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Yates/e/B001H6NA62

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by

contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Kathryn Craft, March 1

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   March 1, 2021

 

Kathryn Craft

(Author of Psychological and Women’s Literary Fiction)

“Themes of love, death, coming of age, corruption, survival, and heroism were just as riveting to William Shakespeare in the 16th century as they are to today’s novelists. The window dressing may change, but throughout the ages we’ve all been framing the same big ideas.”

For Writers: “Dancers communicate stories all the time without speaking a single word, and the effect can be stunning. Study how they do that.”

“I turned to writing fiction after my first husband’s suicide, sixteen years ago. I had a lingering need to use my writing to form a more hopeful story from the chaos of those events. Penelope Sparrow was my path.”

 

Kathryn Craft writes stories that seek beauty and meaning at the edge of darkness. A native of Syracuse, NY she was a dancer, choreographer, and  dance critic before becoming a writer. Craft is an active member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and leads writing workshops and retreats. She is published by Sourcebooks Landmark.

 

Cathy Lamb interviews Craft:

Author To Author Interview: Kathryn Craft

The Art of Falling is her first novel. “A sensitive study of a woman choreographing her own recovery.”—Kirkus Reviews.

All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. 

 

The Far End of Happy was named as the Ten Books You Should Be Reading by the Huffington Post.

Twelve tense hours, three women, and the suicide standoff that turns one family’s little piece of heaven into a scene from hell.

 

“Craft presents her mesmerizing characters with depth, understanding, and ethos.” – Lana Kay Rosenberg, artistic director, Miami University Dance Theatre

 

Visit Kathryn Craft’s Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/Kathryn-Craft/e/B00DLI9GE4

Blog and website: http://www.kathryncraft.com/

You can find her blog posts at Writer Unboxed: https://writerunboxed.com/kathryn/

 

Craft is also a contributor in Author in Progress, from the Writer Unboxed Community.

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by

contemporary and classic authors.

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