The last two years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month… you can see the list for 2014 and 2015 in the comments for this page. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.
Today’s story, for day thirteen – The Largesse Of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson
Read it online here:
Today, another story by one of my favorite authors, Denis Johnson. I like this puppy better than the others for this month, at least so far.
Two days ago I wrote about Jennifer Egan and how her novel A Visit From the Goon Squad was a set of linked short stories. Another excellent and notable book written in this form is Jesus’ Son, by today’s author Denis Johnson.
Today’s story The Largesse Of the Sea Maiden is not a part of a larger work. As a matter of fact, it is a stand alone longer story made up of a series of tiny little flash fiction scenes – each with their own one-word titles: SILENCES, ACCOMPLICES, ADMAN, FAREWELL… – which could, in part, stand alone.
This is really cool. It’s like fractal storytelling or a fictional set of Russian nesting dolls. Stories within stories, all collapsing down into paragraphs, sentences, words….
And really well done. I had to pause after each mini-tale in The Largesse Of the Sea Maiden to think about what I had just read, how it fit into the whole, and how it taught me something or showed me something I had never seen before.
Like what I had read from Denis Johnson before, it’s about deeply flawed but ultimately decent people trying to make the best of a confounding world.
The way I do these entries is that I copy the text from the linked pages and paste it into a text file which I read (usually at lunch) on my Kindle. After I write an entry I delete the file to save space and confusion in my tablet. But this one… I think I’ll leave the copy there. I might not read the whole story again – but those little scenes, I suspect there are lessons there that I haven’t learned yet and I know there are some I’ll forget if I don’t read them again.
This morning I was assailed by such sadness at the velocity of life—the distance I’ve travelled from my own youth, the persistence of the old regrets, the new regrets, the ability of failure to freshen itself in novel forms—that I almost crashed the car.