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Read & Listen to Short Stories

This site – The Drabblecast:     → http://www.drabblecast.org/        offers  .  .  .

Strange Stories, By Strange Authors, for Strange Listeners

The Drabblecast is an award-winning, illustrated, listener-supported audio fiction magazine, released as a free to download, weekly podcast. It features short stories at the far side of weird, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, and everything in between. It is hosted and produced by Norman Sherman.

The Drabblecast ran its first episode in February of 2007. In the early days, Norm and college friends and then editors Kendall Marchman and Luke Coddington wrote most of the episodes. But soon a listenership grew, and the Drabblecast began publishing stories contributed by its fans. Later, professional authors got involved. Names like Tim Pratt, Mike Resnick, Ben H. Winters, and Mur Lafferty have appeared on the podcast.

As the future unfolds The Drabblecast continues to assert itself as a standard-bearer amongst fiction podcasts, always searching for the next great story, and to keep its audience trapped somewhere between ecstatic joy and unfathomable confusion.

◊ A sample from their catalogue –

The Coughing Dog ↓ by  Norm Sherman

In the Drabblecast’s very first episode, ‘Norman’ Sherman introduces his own story ‘The Coughing Dog’ – a tale about family reuniting at Christmas, and a domestic pet with a very… unusual condition. Norm introduces the basic concept of the show, which he describes as “flash fiction of an atypical nature […] by very strange people,” and admits that while not all stories will include demons, chupacabras, aliens and yetis, many will.

◊  Listen   (click on the coughing dog)

¤ Another site with short stories:  http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/1001stories/

¤ An awesome site with lots of links to Stephen King‘s stories and many other authors. Each story displays a choice of two audio recordings to suit your style, one at a slower pace ⇓

•→http://esl-bits.net/ESL.Listening.Short.Stories.html

¤  ‘Go The F*** To Sleep’ ⇓ by Adam Mansbach

⇒The definitive children bedtime story for desperate patents, read by Samuel L. Jackson ⇐

Samuel_J

«I was anxious to do the audio read of this book because my agent has twins, and he… er, he gave me the book, I read it and I fell out laughing, and I remember all those times when I did read to my daughter when she was that age…

«Everybody tells you reading stories would put kids to sleep but it never works. It didn’t in my house. Actually if I picked her up and made up a story, it worked a lot better but, er… I did say ‘Go the fuck to sleep’ to her a lot, and I think at some point she would look at me when I Would come in the room and she would look at me and say, «Go the fuck to sleep, daddy?» And I would say, «Yeah, go the fuck to sleep.»

← Click pic for a lushly illustrated PDF

=============

  ¤  Roddy Doyle  ⇓  «Bullfighting» ⇐R_Doyle

Roddy Doyle (1968-Dublin)  won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.  He has published nine novels and dozens of short stories, some of which can be read at The New Yorker (click pic→).  Several of his books have been made into successful films, notably The Commitments in 1991.
The story which follows is about a group of fiftysomething mates flying Ryanair to Spain for a spring break, drinking in a small-town bar, «talking shite» about old TV shows, 80s bands, global warming, insurance…
•→ LISTEN!  ← Dave Eggers reads Roddy Doyle’s “Bullfighting,” and discusses it with The New Yorkers fiction editor, Deborah Treisman.
LAst-night¤  James Salter: «LAST NIGHT»

Click title to read  ⇑

⇐ click pic to listen to the story; just wait for the first four minutes to go…

 

¤  Lydia Davis  ↓

Married to Paul Auster, with whom she has a son, she has published six collections of short stories, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986). Her most recent collection was Varieties of Disturbance  (2007). «The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis», published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2009, contains all her stories to date.

Her stories are acclaimed for their brevity, poetry, philosophy and humour. Many are only one or two sentences long.

◊ «Once a Very Stupid Man» ↓

She is tired and a little ill and not thinking very clearly and as she tries to get dressed she keeps asking him where her things are and he very patiently tells her where each thing is – first her pants, then her shirt, then her socks, then her glasses. He suggests to her that she should put her glasses on and she does, but this doesn’t seem to help very much. There isn’t much light coming into the room. Part of the way through this search and this attempt to dress herself she lies down on the bed mostly dressed while he lies under the covers after earlier getting up to feed the cat, opening the can of food with a noise that puzzled her because it sounded like milk squirting from the teat of a cow into a metal bucket. As she lies there nearly dressed beside him he talks to her steadily about various things, and after a while, as she has been listening to him with different reactions according to what he says to her, first resentment, then great interest, then amusement, then distraction, then resentment again, then amusement again, he asks her if she minds him talking so much and if she wants him to stop or go on. She says it is time for her to get ready to go and she gets up off the bed.

She resumes her reach for her clothes and he resumes helping her. She asks him where her ring is and where her shoes are, and where her jacket is and then gets up and hands her some things even before she asks. By the time she is fully dressed to go, she sees more clearly what is happening, that her situation is very like a Hasidic tale she read on the subway the day before from a book that is still in her purse. She asks him if she can read him a story, he hesitates, and she thinks he probably doesn’t like her to read to him even though he likes to read to her. She says it is only a paragraph, he agrees, and they sit down at the kitchen table. By now he is dressed too, in a white T-shirt and pants that fit him nicely. From the thin brown book she read the following tale:

«There was once a man who was very stupid. When he got up in the morning it was so hard for him to find his clothes that at night he almost hesitated to go to bed for thinking of the trouble he would have on waking. One evening he took paper and pencil and with great effort, as he undressed, noted down exactly where he put everything he had on. The next morning, well pleased with himself, he took the slip of paper in his hand and read: ‘cap’ – there it was, he set it on his head; ‘pants’ – there they lay, he got into them; and so it went until he was fully dressed. But now he was overcome with consternation, and he said to himself: ‘This is all very well, I have found my clothes and I am dressed, but where am I myself? Where in the world am I? And he looked and looked, but it was a vain search; he could not find himself. And that is how it is with us, said the rabbit.»

She stops reading. He likes the story, but does not seem to like the ending -«Where am I?»- as much as he likes the beginning, about the man’s problems and his solution.

She herself feels she is like the very stupid man, not only because she couldn’t find her clothes, not only because sometimes other simple things besides getting dressed are also beyond her, but most of all because she often doesn’t know where she is, and particularly concerning this man she doesn’t know where she is. She thinks she is probably no place in the life of this man, who is also not only not in his own house, just as she is not in her own house when she visits him and in fact doesn’t know where this house is but arrives here as though in a dream, stumbling and falling in the street, but who is not altogether in his own life anymore and might well also ask himself, “Where am I?”

In fact, she wants to call herself a very stupid man. Can’t she say. This woman is a very stupid man, just the way a few weeks before she thought she had called herself a bearded man? Because if the very stupid man in the story behaves just the way she herself would behave or is even right now behaving, can’t  she consider herself to be a very stupid man, just as a few weeks ago she thought anyone writing at the next table in a café might be considered to be a bearded man? She was sitting in a café and a bearded man was sitting two tables away from her and two loud women came in to have lunch and disturbed the bearded man writing at the next table and then saw that since she herself, as she wrote this, was writing at the next table, she was probably calling herself a bearded man. It was not that she had changed in any way, but that the words bearded man could now apply to her. Or perhaps she had changed.

She has read the tale out loud to him because it is so like what has just happened to her, but then she wonders if it is not the other way around and the tale lodged somewhere in her mind the day before and made it possible for her to forget where all her clothes were and have such trouble dressing. Later that morning, or perhaps on another morning, feeling the same stupidity leaving this man who is not quite in his life anymore, as she looks again for herself in his life and can’t find herself anywhere, there are other confusions. She cries and may be crying only because it is raining outdoors and she has been staring at the rain coming down the windowpane, and then wonders if she is crying more because it is raining or if the rain made it possible for her to cry in the first place, since she doesn’t cry very often, and finally thinks the two, the rain and the tears, are the same. Then, out on the street, there’s a sudden great din coming from several places at once – a few car honking, a truck’s loud engine roaring, another truck with loose parts rattling over an  uneven road surface, a roadmender pounding – and the dim seems to be occurring right inside her as if her anger and confusion had emptied her and made a place in the middle of her chest for this great clashing of metal, or as if she herself had left this body and left it open to this noise, and then she wonders, Has the noise really come into me, or has something in me gone out into the street to make such a great noise?

♦    “Story”  ↓  [2nd part read by the author]

L_Davis

I get home from work and there is a message from him: that he is not coming, that he is busy. He will call again. I wait to hear from him, then at nine o’clock I go to where he lives, find his car, but he’s not home. I knock at his apartment door and then at all the garage doors, not knowing which garage door is his—no answer. I write a note, read it over, write a new note, and stick it in his door. At home I am restless, and all I can do, though I have a lot to do, since I’m going on a trip in the morning, is play the piano. I call again at ten forty-five and he’s home, he has been to the movies with his old girlfriend, and she’s still there. He says he’ll call back. I wait. Finally I sit down and write in my notebook that when he calls me either he will then come to me, or he will not and I will be angry, and so I will have either him or my own anger, and this might be all right, since anger is always a great comfort, as I found with my husband. And then I go on to write, in the third person and the past tense, that clearly she always needed to have a love even if it was a complicated love. He calls back before I have time to finish writing all this down. When he calls, it is a little after eleven thirty. We argue until nearly twelve. Everything he says is a contradiction: for example, he says he did not want to see me because he wanted to work and even more because he wanted to be alone, but he has not worked and he has not been alone. There is no way I can get him to reconcile any of his contradictions, and when this conversation begins to sound too much like many I had with my husband I say goodbye and hang up. I finish writing down what I started to write down even though by now it no longer seems true that anger is any great comfort.

I call him back five minutes later to tell him that I am sorry about all this arguing, and that I love him, but there is no answer. I call again five minutes later, thinking he might have walked out to his garage and walked back, but again there is no answer. I think of driving to where he lives again and looking for his garage to see if he is in there working, because he keeps his desk there and his books and that is where he goes to read and write. I am in my nightgown, it is after twelve and I have to leave the next morning at five. Even so, I get dressed and drive the mile or so to his place. I am afraid that when I get there I will see other cars by his house that I did not see earlier and that one of them will belong to his old girlfriend. When I drive down the driveway I see two cars that weren’t there before, and one of them is parked as close as possible to his door, and I think that she is there. I walk around the small building to the back where his apartment is, and look in the window: the light is on, but I can’t see anything clearly because of the half-closed venetian blinds and the steam on the glass. But things inside the room are not the same as they were earlier in the evening, and before there was no steam. I open the outer screen door and knock. I wait. No answer. I let the screen door fall shut and I walk away to check the row of garages. Now the door opens behind me as I am walking away and he comes out. I can’t see him very well because it is dark in the narrow lane beside his door and he is wearing dark clothes and whatever light there is is behind him. He comes up to me and puts his arms around me without speaking, and I think he is not speaking not because he is feeling so much but because he is preparing what he will say. He lets go of me and walks around me and ahead of me out to where the cars are parked by the garage doors.

As we walk out there he says “Look,” and my name, and I am waiting for him to say that she is here and also that it’s all over between us. But he doesn’t, and I have the feeling he did intend to say something like that, at least say that she was here, and that he then thought better of it for some reason. Instead, he says that everything that went wrong tonight was his fault and he’s sorry. He stands with his back against a garage door and his face in the light and I stand in front of him with my back to the light. At one point he hugs me so suddenly that the fire of my cigarette crumbles against the garage door behind him. I know why we’re out here and not in his room, but I don’t ask him until everything is all right between us. Then he says, “She wasn’t here when I called you. She came back later.” He says the only reason she is there is that something is troubling her and he is the only one she can talk to about it. Then he says, “You don’t understand, do you?”

I try to figure it out.

So they went to the movies and then came back to his place and then I called and then she left and he called back and we argued and then I called back twice but he had gone out to get a beer (he says) and then I drove over and in the meantime he had returned from buying beer and she had also come back and she was in his room so we talked by the garage doors. But what is the truth? Could he and she both really have come back in that short interval between my last phone call and my arrival at his place? Or is the truth really that during his call to me she waited outside or in his garage or in her car and that he then brought her in again, and that when the phone rang with my second and third calls he let it ring without answering, because he was fed up with me and with arguing? Or is the truth that she did leave and did come back later but that he remained and let the phone ring without answering? Or did he perhaps bring her in and then go out for the beer while she waited there and listened to the phone ring? The last is the least likely. I don’t believe anyway that there was any trip out for beer.

The fact that he does not tell me the truth all the time makes me not sure of his truth at certain times, and then I work to figure out for myself if what he is telling me is the truth or not, and sometimes I can figure out that it’s not the truth and sometimes I don’t know and never know, and sometimes just because he says it to me over and over again I am convinced it is the truth because I don’t believe he would repeat a lie so often. Maybe the truth does not matter, but I want to know it if only so that I can come to some conclusions about such questions as: whether he is angry at me or not; if he is, then how angry; whether he still loves her or not; if he does, then how much; whether he loves me or not; how much; how capable he is of deceiving me in the act and after the act in the telling.

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