Monday, June 08, 2009

The Short Story Project Begins

To review, my Summer of Short Stories involves reading one story each weekday of my summer vacation, a total of 45 short stories. I'm not sure what form my blog posts about the stories will take or how faithful I will be at posting about them, but I'm going to attempt to post each day soon after I read the story for that day.

I decided to begin with Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. The first story is the title story. It is a lovely story about the way family members, especially fathers and daughters, understand and misunderstand one another. When I read Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, I was completely drawn into each of the stories from the first word to the last, and "Unaccustomed Earth" was no different. Lahiri is able to make me feel much for her characters even though I will only know them for a short while. Ruma and her father share more than they will ever realize. It's quite poignant how Lahiri captures the way they misunderstand one another on the surface yet come to understand each other on a deeper level in the end. (I'm not sure that I'm making sense here, but if you read the story, maybe you will see what I mean.) They each want to protect the other from the one thing that humans can't be protected from, life as it happens: "He wanted to shield her from the deterioration that inevitably took place in the course of a marriage, and from the conclusion he sometimes feared was true: that the entire enterprise of having a family, of putting children on this earth as gratifying as it sometimes felt, was flawed from he start." Although we know that life lessons are learned best through experience, we still want to protect those that we love from having to learn the hard lessons through their own experience.

I enjoyed this story so much that I immediately wanted to read the next story, but I resisted the temptation. I have other books to read today. I want to finish Unwind and make some good progress with Shadow Country, which I must be finished with by July 12--it's 875 pages; I've not read 200 pages yet. Plus I do have some errands to run and things to do around the apartment.


1 comment:

ChanaeConnell said...

I agree that the first story really sets the stage for what you know will be entertaining and real despite the cultural undertones. Lahiri seems so deep but not in a corny sort of way. I think you will be in for a treat as you continue reading the stories. I also decided to read one story at a time so that I wouldn't "run them together". Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.