Friday, January 13, 2006

"A Mean Teacher" by Mitch Sisskind

What happens when a teacher is more difficult than her most difficult student? Is there any room for forgiveness here? This rather droll story gives us an unlikely glimpse of modern education (circa 1970). Read by Jonathan Strong.

Mitch Sisskind is a licensed gemologist (believe it or not) who is from Chicago but now lives in New York City; he is a former high-school football coach, and a teacher himself. A collection of his stories, Visitations, was published in 1984 by Brightwaters Press. This particular story was originally published in a 1971 collection of experimental fiction called Anti-Story, which is as fine a guide to what the 1960s wrought in the world of literature as any. One wonders what they call "anti-stories" nowadays. Oops, we forgot--that kind of stuff just doesn't get published anymore!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"The Sons of Angus MacElster" by Joyce Carol Oates

Due to popular demand, we finally present a story by American author Joyce Carol Oates, which is in its own way a retelling of Ovid's account of Diana and Actaeon. In this story of violent revenge set on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in 1923, no one is turned into a stag, though a cruel father does meet more than his comeuppance. Read by Scoot.

By 2010 it is estimated that Joyce Carol's collected works will require new annexes in most public libraries and will number in the hundred-thousands. Seriously, it is hard to imagine a more prolific writer (Asmiov, anyone?), one who has to rely on a couple pseudonyms as well to keep her publishers on their toes. From her one-room schoolhouse in rural New York state to her establishment at the solid center of America's literary scene, Oates has entertained and dazzled readers since the 1960s. Our favorite Oates title: You Must Remember This, Because It is Bitter, and It is My Heart, which is even better than her famous story of a girl gone wrong, Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?