Monday, January 04, 2010

Reader's Diary #561- T. C. Boyle: Chicxulub

Last week I compiled a list of short stories that I'd found online, read, and reviewed in 2009.When fellow blogger and Short Story Monday participant JoAnn wrote to tell me she had compiled a similar list, I just had to check it out. I'm a sucker for lists. Quickly scanning hers over, T.C. Boyle's "Chicxulub" caught my eye, probably because of its unfriendly-to-English-readers title. How do you pronounce that? Chicks-you-lub?

Anyway. Recently my wife and I were discussing our six year old daughter watching the first two Harry Potter movies. While we agreed there were parts she'd no doubt be scared over, I'd already read the books to her and we both felt that the experience served as a good buffer. Movies, we said, are typically scarier. Do you feel the same way? I think I find movies generally more emotional all the way around, yet for all that I prefer books. With books I can turn away, I can pace myself when the going gets rough.

JoAnn refered to Boyle's story as "one of the most powerful short stories I've ever read." I'd have to say that I'd agree, though I was thankful of the distractions around me: the cat, the phone, and especially the sounds of my kids playing. I'm glad I didn't read it alone at night in a silent house. It's not scary, at least not in the way that you think, but I was very early in when my heart nestled down into my throat and remained there until the end.

It's a brilliantly written story. Chicxulub, for those of you that don't know and clearly have not read Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, is one of a few sites mentioned by Boyle that meteors have wreaked destruction on Earth. Boyle intersperses this scary science with a tale of family tragedy to discuss fate and futility. Such comparisons could be heavy handed, overwrought, or down right clumsy. Boyle pulls it off beautifully by making you care. I love this story.

It seems that yet another blogger was responsible for bringing it to JoAnn's attention; from Nymeth, to JoAnn, to me, and next hopefully to one of you. It's really, really good. It deserves a online chain to keep it going.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Teddy Rose said...

This sounds like one that I have to read as well! Stay tuned for my review. For this week, I reviewed Natalie:

Ali said...

I agree that the images in movies make them much more intense than books in some ways. On the other hand, I think reading something can have more impact on me emotionally. I internalize it more.

I finally got it together to do another Short Story Monday! Here's my thoughts on Brokeback Mountain.

Nan said...

Wow, what a description! I'll look into it. I did write about a short story today, and hope to continue each week.

John Mutford said...

Teddy: Looking forward to it!

Ali: Agreed. Books linger with me much longer than movies. And yes, that would probably be due to internalizing. Spending so much more time with a book, it allows for a much deeper reflection.

John Mutford said...

Ooops, sorry I missed you there Nan. Glad you're joining us!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What an incredibly powerful story. It shook me to the core, to tell you the truth. I won't soon forget this one.

JoAnn said...

Isn't that just the most amazing story ever?? I could hardly breathe as I was reading. I'm so glad you got a chance to read it! (and I've been saying chic-ex-you-lub... but who knows?)

I have a story by Dorothy Whipple this week:

Teddy Rose said...

Man John, I couldn't wait to read Chicxulub. I read it a couple nights ago and my heart is still in my throat! I just wrote my review of it and scheduled it to be posted on Monday. I was so impressed however, that I also made a mini challenge out of it, which I included in the same post.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Isn't it great?

JoAnn: Thank-you, thank-you for bringing it to my attention.

Teddy: Ooooh! I can't wait-- you have my curiousity piqued.

John Mutford said...

Teddy Rose's Challenge here.

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for the link John.