WELCOME TO DECEMBER PROJECT!
boilerplate mission statement intro:
for the past two years, i’ve set december’s project aside to do my own version of a short story advent calendar. it’s not a true advent calendar since i choose all the stories myself, but what it lacks in the ‘element of surprise’ department it more than makes up for in hassle, as i try to cram even MORE reading into a life already overcrammed with impossible personal goals (live up to your potential! find meaningful work! learn to knit!) merry merry wheee!
since i am already well behind in my *regular* reviewing, when it comes to these stories, whatever i poop out as far as reflections or impressions are going to be superficial and perfunctory at best. please do not weep for the great big hole my absented, much-vaunted critical insights are gonna leave in these daily review-spaces (and your hearts); i’ll try to drop shiny insights elsewhere in other reviews, and here, i will at least drop links to where you can read the stories yourselves for free, which – let’s be honest – is gonna serve you better anyway.
HAPPY READING, BOOKNERDS!
links to all stories read in previous years’ calendars can be found at the end of these reviews, in case you are a person who likes to read stories for free:
scroll down for links to this year’s stories which i will update as we go, and if you have any suggestions, send ’em my way! the only rules are: it must be available free online (links greatly appreciated), and it must be here on gr as its own thing so i can review it. thank you in advance!
When I was young, I shopped at the Army-Navy with the thought that if I bought these clothes and wore them I would prevent some beautiful young man from being killed in the garments. I’m romantic like that.
as a getting-older lady, this story had some potent, poignant and uncomfortably needling observations to poke me with. unlike the narrator, i am not a getting-older lady who has experienced motherhood, so some of the fears and preoccupations do not apply, but i once had a mother, and i can pretend as well as anyone. probably better. and as far as the disappointment, humiliation, fear, resignation, and unfairness of the world – i can relate to all of that without pretending.
not a bad story for the end of the year, whose last few dwindling days all feel like the rundown to a nervous breakdown, a prolonged 3 a.m. can’t-sleep reckoning and tallying up of the year’s wins and losses and regrets and the hopes that maybe THIS TIME the coming year will be better.
oh, and all of this is absolute perfection:
The men I know speak about sex as if their needs are more intense or deeper than women’s needs. Like their penises are on fire and they will die if they can’t extinguish the flames in some damp, tight hole. Through high school and college, I believed men when they said their desires were more intense than mine because they talked about sex so much. They developed entire industries devoted to their desire. The aches! The suffering of the boys! The shame and mutual responsibility for blue balls. The suffering of the boys. Poor boys, I thought. Poor boys, as if I were being called upon to serve in a war effort, the war against boys not getting any.
The only desire I have that compares to the way men talk about sex is my fervor for rehashing the past. I relive the exquisite pain of things that no longer exist: my father’s jean jacket, my father, Travolta’s 1977 dark beauty, how it felt to be alone in the house with my mom after my siblings left for school, the hypnotic rotations of my record-player spinning the Osmonds and Paper Lace, the particular odors of a mildewed tent in summertime. Memory as erogenous zone.
Then I realized that men think they are special because someone told them so.
Then I realized that I, too, have begun to burn lately, and, while no one wants to hear about middle-aged female sexual desire, I don’t care anymore what no one wants. There are days I ache so badly, the only remedy beyond a proper plowing would be a curved and rusty piece of metal or broken glass to gouge out my hot center from mid-inner thigh all the way up to my larynx. I’d spare my spine, brain, hands, and feet. I’m not irrational.
read it for yourself here: