Deal Me In! Amy Silverberg, Suburbia!

I signed up for Jay at bibliophilica’s #DealMeIn2019 challenge.  The goal is to read 52 short stories this year.  The stories are chosen by drawing a random playing card.

This week, I chose the 4 of Diamonds.

The story is “Suburbia!” by Amy Silverberg, found in Best American Short stories 2018, edited by Roxane Gay.

“Suburbia!” is (for lack of a better word) an odd story.  It begins when the narrator is fifteen, and her father says “I bet you’ll leave here at eighteen and you’ll never come back. . . not once” (251).  The narrator agrees to the bet.  A week after her 18th birthday, her father takes the daughter to the train station and says goodbye to her forever.  (It did not seem that the daughter had been consulted about this trip.) The daughter does OK.  She gets a job as a waitress, makes some friends, and takes a few classes.  But eventually, she misses her family and wants to see them again, so she goes home unannounced.

She is surprised to find that the house she grew up in is tiny–smaller than a toaster.  She crouches down on her knees in order to talk to her parents.  They are embarrassed that she is seeing them like this, but otherwise they are doing fine.

The last line of the story is this:  “I thought this was a funny thing, the way the past and the future could both shrink down to a manageable size, like a pill to be swallowed, or the head of a match” (261).

I believe Silverberg is using the miniature house as a symbol.  When we are children, our families and our homes seem huge, all-encompassing.  After we grow up and look back on our homes, our families may seem in some way diminished.  One can understand why the narrator’s father would not want her to see them through the lens of her adult eyes.

I’m not sure what I think of this story.  I haven’t yet fully “digested” it.  In the back of the anthology, Silverberg included some notes on why she wrote the story.  I will quote part of what she wrote:

  “I’d just read the short story ‘The Paperhanger’ by William Gay and admire the mystery of it, how it seemed to go confidently into an unknown world, a world that felt a little surreal and a little absurd. . . .I was also in a workshop taught by Aimee Bender, and while I hadn’t set out to write anything with a magical realism element, I’m sure her stories. . . rubbed off on me–or if not the stories, then at least the courage or freedom to go confidently into that so called unknown world.”

I do like that idea of writers having the freedom to go confidently wherever they want to go.

*****
Have you read this story or anything else by Amy Silverberg?  Let me know what you think!

 

Deal Me In Short Story Challenge 2015

Deal Me In!
Deal Me In!

I just discovered Bibliophilopolis wonderful “Deal Me In: Short Story Challenge.”  (Click here for the details.)  Participants choose 52 stories to read and assign each of them a card (such as the 4 of Hearts).  Then, each week, participants randomly select a card and read the story assigned to that card.  (We don’t have to blog every week or about every story, just as much as we want to do.)

Here is my list.  I am getting a somewhat late start, so I’ll have to read more than one a week for a couple of weeks.  I’m looking forward to the challenge. Thanks, Bibliophilopolis!

HEARTS

(The following stories are all from Lorrie Moore’s collection, Bark)

A         “Debarking”

2          “The Juniper Tree”

3          “Paper Losses”

4          “Foes”

5          “Wings”

6          “Referential”

7          “Subject to Search”

8          “Thank You for Having Me”

 

(The following stories are all from George Saunders’s collection, Tenth of December)

9          “Victory Lap” (The New Yorker, 2009)

10        “Sticks” (Harper’s, 1995)

J           “Puppy” (The New Yorker, 2007)

Q         “Escape from Spiderhead” (The New Yorker, 2010)[8]

K         “Exhortation” (part of “Four Institutional Monologues” from McSweeney’s #4, )

DIAMONDS

A         “Al Roosten” (The New Yorker, 2009)

2          “The Semplica Girl Diaries” (The New Yorker, 2012)

3          “Home” (The New Yorker, 2011)

4          “My Chivalric Fiasco” (Harper’s, 2011)

5          “Tenth of December” (The New Yorker, 2011)

 

 

(The following stories are all from Alice Munro’s collection Dear Life)

6         “To Reach Japan”

7          “Amundsen”

8          “Leaving Maverly”

9          “Gravel”

10        “Haven”

J           “Pride”

Q         “Corrie”

K         “Train”

 

SPADES

 

A         “In Sight of the Lake”

2          “Dolly”

3          “The Eye”

4          “Night”

5          “Voices”

6          “Dear Life”

 

Recent New Yorker Stories

 

7          Brad Watson  “Eykelboom”  (November 24, 2014)

8          Nuruddin Farah,  “The Start of the Affair” (December 22 and 29, 2014)

9          Elizabeth McKenzie “Savage Breast” (December 15, 2014)

10        Jess Row, “The Empties” (November 3, 2014)

J           Tim Parks, “Reverend”

Q         Kevin Canty, “Story, with Bird”

K          Victor Lodato, “Jack, July” (September 22, 2014)

 

CLUBS

A         Tessa Hadley, “One Saturday Morning”

2          Haruki Murakami, “Scheherazade”

3          Etgar Keret, “One Gram Short”

 

(The following stories are from Best American Short Stories 2014)

4          CHARLES BAXTER. Charity

from McSweeney’s

 

5          ANN BEATTIE. The Indian Uprising

from Granta

 

6          T.C. BOYLE. The Night of the Satellite

from The New Yorker

 

7          PETER CAMERON. After the Flood

from Subtropics

 

8          NICOLE CULLEN. Long Tom Lookout

from Idaho Review

 

9          CRAIG DAVIDSON. Medium Tough

from Agni

 

10        JOSHUA FERRIS. The Breeze

from The New Yorker

 

J           NELL FREUDENBERGER. Hover

from The Paris Review

 

Q         DAVID GATES. A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

from Granta

 

K         LAUREN GROFF. At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners

from Five Points

 

And here are some more stories from the Best American Short Stories 2014.  Maybe I’ll get to them as well.

 

RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA. The Judge’s Will

from The New Yorker

O.A. LINDSEY. Evie M.

from Iowa Review

WILL MACKIN. Kattekoppen

from The New Yorker

BRENDAN MATHEWS. This Is Not a Love Song

from Virginia Quarterly Review

MOLLY MCNETT. La Pulchra Nota

from Image

BENJAMIN NUGENT. God

from The Paris Review

JOYCE CAROL OATES. Mastiff

from The New Yorker

STEPHEN O’CONNOR. Next to Nothing

from Conjunctions

KAREN RUSSELL. Madame Bovary’s Greyhound

from Zoetrope: All-Story

Laura Van Den Berg. Antarctica

from Glimmer Train