short story mixtape vol. 1: swimming

short story mixtapes are stories organized by theme, the way all the best mixtapes from your high school sweetheart were, obviously.

volume one is stories for late summer swimming hole vibes. weird things happen in the water.

the swimmer John Cheever: probably the most famous of legendary Cheever’s stories, “the swimmer” follows what happens when Neddy Merril decides to swim across all the pools in the country. a flawless blend of the real and the surreal in the very real and surreal setting of suburban America.

where we must be Laura van den Berg: bigfoot, love, death, rotting pears, nighttime lake swimming: if you’re not sold by now I don’t know what else to tell you. Laura van den Berg is one of my favorite contemporary writers. her narrators always make you feel like they’re letting you in on a little shared secret, like they’re spilling their hearts out just to you, and the narrator here is no different.

child’s play Alice Munro: just Alice Munro doing her thing, being the reigning queen of short fiction, revealing the depths and complexities of the human condition. no big deal. this story follows two girls at summer camp, and one event that leaves them marked forever.

the swim team Miranda July: “swimming” is very loosely and delightfully interpreted here, and I won’t spoil the joyful surprise by telling you how. this is one of the shorter stories from July’s collection no one belongs here more than you. the characters are so delightful and endearing you’ll wish it was longer.

Men under water Ralph Lombreglia: if you are having a bad day, take some time to lose yourself in the misadventures of Flip and Gunther, a pair of business partners whose relationship manages to be both dysfunctional and touching. you’ll laugh at the delightful dialogues between Flip, Gunther, and a rock band called Acid Rain. you’ll be moved by the gorgeous underwater ending.

a few things on the internet

food: Want to know about the history of peiking ravioli? Or what they feed prisoners in the Westville Correctional Facility? Lucky Peach is where it’s at. Their print magazine is gorgeous, too.

feminism: Rookie is always on point. the content is geared toward teenage girls but I think we all feel like teenage girls sometimes. Their playlists are excellent: this one, called “Hanging out with Rory Gilmore,” is almost always relevant to my life.

literature: Whenever I get stuck and want to procrastinate I read one of these Paris Review interviews with famous authors. it’s a good distraction, which is what the internet is all about, and usually by the end I’m feeling pumped and ready to roll.

getting real

trying to be real here: writing is hard when I just keep googling “X-Files revival spoilers” every couple of minutes. it’s a thrilling but also very challenging time to be a fangirl nerd.

on a related note this article, about X-Files screenwriter Darin Morgan, is great. He is an incredible storyteller. His episodes had a huge influence on me. He helped shaped my mushy adolescent brain into the less mushy kind of adult writer brain it is today.

the other jillian jacksons

Jill M. Jackson is a professional psychic medium and healer. she says she has the “beautiful gift of connecting soul to soul.” I love that.

this other Jillian Jackson  is president of a sorority.

Jill Jackson is an actress. she was in Pollock! neat

this Jillian Jackson‘s website is called One Jillian! how ironic!

this might be the coolest: Jillian Jackson the comic book character. she doesn’t have any super powers, which is kind of a bummer. she is very supportive of some guy named Gar and then she gets kidnapped.

way to go, guys!


summer readin

so far, we’ve got

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: a beautiful book. slow and meditative and heavy but also has this quality of lightness to it – as in, like, visible light, as in, warm and illuminating. lovely.

the girl on the train by Paula Hawkins: fun and beachy! full of cheap thrills. very, very cheap thrills. I’d have to say my favorite thing about this novel was that it made me want to drink gin and tonic all day every day forever.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: dark and heartbreaking and hard to put down. the present tense narration and the way this novel moves through time is masterful.

the best american short stories (2008): I’ve been picking these babies (best americans) up at thrift stores for pennies and DEVOURING them. it’s good to be behind the times. “Galatea” by Karen Brown ruined me. That’s how good it is.

for rest of July/August hoping to squeeze in these plus more: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, Find Me by Laura van den Berg, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, also Anna Karenina (cause yikes never read it lol whoops) and also the last fifty pages of Swann’s Way because after 50000000 attempts I WILL be victorious.