The Waiter’s Wife by Zadie Smith
My rating: 5/5 cats
WELCOME TO DECEMBER PROJECT!
this explanation/intro will be posted before each day’s short story. scroll down to get to the story-review.
this is the FIFTH year of me doing a short story advent calendar as my december project. for those of you new to me or this endeavor, here’s the skinny: every day in december, i will be reading a short story that is 1) available free somewhere on internet, and 2) listed on goodreads as its own discrete entity. there will be links provided for those of you who like to read (or listen to) short stories for free, and also for those of you who have wildly overestimated how many books you can read in a year and are freaking out about not meeting your 2020 reading-challenge goals. i have been gathering links all year when tasty little tales have popped into my feed, but i will also accept additional suggestions, as long as they meet my aforementioned 1), 2) standards, because i have not compiled as many as usual this year.
IN ADDITION, this may be the last year i do this project since GR has already deleted the pages for several of the stories i’ve read in previous years without warning, leaving me with a bunch of missing reviews and broken links, which makes me feel shitty. because i don’t have a lot of time to waste, i’m not going to bother writing much in the way of reviews for these, in case gr decides to scrap ’em again. 2020 has left me utterly wrung out and i apologize for what’s left of me. i am doing my best.
DECEMBER 17: THE WAITER’S WIFE – ZADIE SMITH
a perfect story, and another one i wouldn’t have discovered without the demands of this project pitchforking me in the back.
i read White Teeth before goodreads even existed, so my memory of it is foggy, but this story was ringing enough familiar bells that after reading it, i looked into its provenance. i think i have traced it accurately, but if i’m wrong feel free to correct me. politely.
this story ran in granta in 1999, a year before White Teeth was published, and it features some of the same characters, so at first i thought “oh no, this is not a short story at all, but an excerpt from her (at the time) forthcoming novel!” i do not have my copy at hand, but thanks to google books et al., i was able to determine that while chunks of this story do in fact appear in White Teeth, some of it was left on the cutting room floor, and the story itself—in this form and arrangement—is its own thing.
long story short:
for you—if you haven’t read White Teeth, this story won’t spoil anything for you and you don’t have to have read White Teeth to understand or appreciate it.
for you—if you have read White Teeth, this will be like getting some deleted scenes gently folded into the novel batter and baked into a satisfying little cupcake
for me—i need to read White Teeth again.
DECEMBER 1: PG – COURTNEY SUMMERS
DECEMBER 2: THE JUMPING MONKEY HILL – CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
DECEMBER 3: ORIGIN STORY – T. KINGFISHER
DECEMBER 4: THE GREAT SILENCE – TED CHIANG
DECEMBER 5: A CLEAN SWEEP WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS – JAMES ALAN GARDNER
DECEMBER 6: BORED WORLD – ANDY WEIR
DECEMBER 7: VAMPIRE – ROBERT COOVER
DECEMBER 8: A STATEMENT IN THE CASE – THEODORA GOSS
DECEMBER 9: STET – SARAH GAILEY
DECEMBER 10: MARGOT’S ROOM – EMILY CARROLL
DECEMBER 11: HORROR STORY – CARMEN MARIA MACHADO
DECEMBER 12: TERRAIN – GENEVIEVE VALENTINE
DECEMBER 13: IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN – ZEN CHO
DECEMBER 14: GHOUL – GEORGE SAUNDERS
DECEMBER 15: DURING THE DANCE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 16: CLEARING THE BONES – CELESTE NG
DECEMBER 18: DEMOLITION – FIONA MCFARLANE
DECEMBER 19: NO PERIOD – HARRY TURTLEDOVE
DECEMBER 20: DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE – GG
DECEMBER 21: RUB-A-DUB-DUB – TONY MILLIONAIRE
DECEMBER 22: HANSA AND GRETYL AND PIECE OF SHIT – REBECCA CURTIS
DECEMBER 23: BRIDESICLE – WILL MCINTOSH
DECEMBER 24: I, CTHULHU, OR, WHAT’S A TENTACLE-FACED THING LIKE ME DOING IN A SUNKEN CITY LIKE THIS (LATITUDE 47° 9′ S, LONGITUDE 126° 43′ W)? – NEIL GAIMAN
DECEMBER 25: CHRISTMAS TALE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 26: THE MONSTERS OF HEAVEN – NATHAN BALLINGRUD
DECEMBER 27: TWO DREAMS ON TRAINS – ELIZABETH BEAR
DECEMBER 28: THE MARTIANS CLAIM CANADA – MARGARET ATWOOD
DECEMBER 29: UNDER THE WAVE – LAUREN GROFF
DECEMBER 30: MR. SALARY – SALLY ROONEY
DECEMBER 31: A/S/L – EMMA CLINE
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