review

NORTH OF – MARIE-HELENE BERTINO

North Of (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading)North Of by Marie-Helene Bertino
My rating: 5/5 cats
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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:

2016: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…
2017: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

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!

DECEMBER 14

The presence of Bob Dylan seems to make my brother anxious. Our dinner conversation is punctuated by his glares toward Bob, as if I have brought him here as another fuck you; look at the friends I have made in New York City. Thankfully Bob is oblivious, admiring each string bean on all sides before plunging it into his mouth.
Later, there is an argument. There is something my brother wants me to admit and I won’t. Bob Dylan ends up with a busted lip.

well, hell. that’s TWO great stories read in one night. maybe i should shamefully fail my short story advent calendar more often! no, i won’t because GOALS!! GOALS ARE FOR WINNERS!

like the lahiri i just read, this is another family holiday story, only this one is thanksgiving instead of christmas, and it is bitterly angry-sad instead of melancholy-grieving-angry-sad. and also very funny. but funny with the trepidation of knowing it’s going to be angry and punchy and awful and sad again any minute and the funny is just there so the angry hurts more when it hits. also, bob dylan preparing string beans for the thanksgiving meal and falling into candy displays. if that sounds like your kind of story, get on it! greg has been loving this author for ages and yet it’s my first time checking her out, but i am SOLD!

sorry for the quickie, but i had to do this quick and dirty before tackling the rest of my evening plans and it’s nearly NINE and i have checked very little off my to-do list and i’m old, people. i got maybe three more hours in me, tops before i conk out. but i did what i set out to do and i’ll do it better tomorrow. this story is great, better than my salesmanship of it.

read it for yourself here:

https://electricliterature.com/north-…

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