Friday, May 13, 2005

"Paper Pills" by Sherwood Anderson

Like most of the residents of Winesburg, Ohio, Dr. Reefy has a secret history--which Sherwood Anderson is glad to reveal to us. Well, everyone in town did wonder why that tall dark girl ever married the nervous middle-aged doctor. Read by Scoot.

Though he also wrote novels and poetry, it is probably for his short stories that Anderson, born in Ohio in 1876, is best remembered. He certainly will always be recognized as one of the chief innovators of the American short story cycle, embodied in his tales of midwestern small-town life--its hidden despair and quiet joy. (Emphasize the despair.) You can read more about his real life in his autobiography, Tar. Anderson died in 1941.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"Gifts" by Myra Goldberg

At a municipal swimming pool, a mother and daughter together reflect upon three generations of women in their family, all within the space of less than four pages. Read by Martha Collins.

Whistling and Other Stories is the short story collection by Myra Goldberg where you'll find this subtly surprising story. Goldberg, who has a teenage daughter of her own, teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Manhattan. "Deeply serious and very funny," is how Grace Paley described this author's work, which has been anthologized at home and abroad and translated into French.

The award-winning poet Martha Collins makes her second appearance on these pages with this reading. Her works include The Catastophe of Rainbows and The Arrangement of Space. Look for her latest book of translations, poems by Vietnamese author Lam Thi My Da, Green Rice, available now.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Sorry to miss a couple days here--the staff took an unexpected weekend vacation, hoping to bag a couple of new stories from different readers on the way but coming back empty-handed. Nevertheless, we have plenty of stories "in the can" and others in the works...

A few reminders about this site, in case anyone ever reads these little announcements:

"Stories to Go" is totally free, free of ads and free of inducements to do anything but go to your local (not chain and not online, if you can avoid it) bookstore or library to obtain the books whence these stories come.

Therefore, although we are very happy with the work of our friends who read for us, none of us is a professional reader and we make plenty of mistakes and never edit and our studio is low-budget, if nonexistent.

All of these stories are read "cold," that is, with no rehearsals, no preparation other than clearing our throats, and quite often without ever having read the story before (or having read it so long ago, we've forgotten it). Most of the stories are chosen pretty much at random, going for the shortest ones in the books, often surprising ourselves by how good (or mediocre) what we've just read is. So these stories aren't necessarily the best, or the ones we'd choose for an anthology, or even the most representative selections from our chosen authors.

The authors we read depend a lot on what we have at hand and are not meant to be a democratic sampling of the world's innumerable authors, ancient or modern. Since we are sadly monolingual and limited to English, we rely on authors writing in English or authors available in translation. We realize we are not the multiracial multilingual multicultural melting pot literature really is, but we do the best we can with our small library (yes, we own all these books).

Don't be surprised if the miniature story descriptions we provide sometimes "give away" more of a story's plot than you might ordinarily want or need. Nevertheless, hearing a story is different from reading a story, and when hearing a story without having read it before, it often helps to have some general idea of what the story and its plot are about and what they entail, since it's easy to get lost in the sentences when you can't flip back a page or two just to check something. If you really want to be completely surprised, don't read the summaries! (They are not provided by our guest readers, by the way, but by our understaffed staff.)

In general, it takes us about twenty minutes every other day to maintain this site, so the content here is no more than that which twenty minutes can allow. Although our "readership" doesn't even approach that of truly popular podcasts, we are incredibly pleased to find people from all over the earth coming to this site. We are totally surprised to find ourselves sometimes being talked about out there (or in there) in cyberspace, and we are enormously grateful for the kind words and "return customers." This was a site that happened with absolutely no forethought, just a whim to experiment one chilly day last March, and we don't know how much longer we'll last, but in the meantime, we very much enjoy this opportunity to (re)introduce the post-literary world to some wonderful literature. Thanks again!

"The Kiss" by Angela Carter

Take a trip to the center of Asia, to ancient Samarkand, where the Uzbeks dress in brilliant silks and bright lilies and tulips grow among the mountain rocks. Or at least they do in Angela Carter's imagination, in this wee story about the conqueror Tamburlaine (Tamerlane) and his beautiful and clever wife. There may or may not be a kiss involved. Read by Scoot.

Fairy tales, tall tales, ghost stories, myths, and legends were the domain of the Englishwoman Angela Carter's many short stories and novels. It might be reductivist to call her worldview "feminist," though that's part of it--she was a true humanist as well, in love with the imaginary creations of people across the globe. We here at "Stories to Go" are still waiting to see The Company of Wolves, the movie based on one of Carter's reappraisals of the Brothers Grimm, though we actually did meet her, sort of, in a real building in a real town a long time ago. She had amazing long silver hair.