short story mixtape vol. 2: journeys + getaways

getting back on that fiction beat now that I’m home. but still in transition back to normal life. so here’s an attempt to bridge the gap: a list of short stories about voyages and vacationers and travelers and getaways.

descent of the aquanauts kathryn davis: a group of young girls at the beach are regaled with the tale of the aquanauts, as told by Janice, an older woman with a perfect golden-brown tan. the moon and the ocean are major players, but under the surface, Davis writes and youth and vulnerability in precise and original language that pops a punch.

a romantic weekend mary gaitskill: the title says it all (or does it? wink): a man and a woman go on a little getaway. Gaitskill is fearless and raw and edgy and funny in this brilliant story about relationships and power, and that gap between what we think and feel and what we say and do.

rock springs richard ford: also about a couple on a getaway. but a different kind of getaway. in a stolen getaway car. with a child and a dog. the narrator, the unforgettable, heartbreakingly well-intentioned but inescapably flawed Earl, gets a tattoo that says FAMOUS TIMES to commemorate it all. and you’ll want to, too.

interpreter of maladies jhumpa lahiri: this often anthologized story follows the Das family on vacation in India, as seen through the eyes of their hired driver, Mr. Kapasi. Lahiri’s eye for details and rich prose brings the vivid setting to life, and makes these complicated characters feel fully, believably human.

love and hydrogen jim shepherd: two star-crossed lovers journey from Germany to the United States on the doomed Hindenburg. the ending is obvious (it crashes!), but little else is. Shepherd’s unique knack for bringing historic details to life in fiction is on full display here, as is his winning humor.