Monday, June 07, 2010

Reader's Diary #617- Willy Vlautin: Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

This week's short story comes from Fifty-Two Stories with Cal Morgan, a weekly online short story giveaway from Harper Perennial. Here you'll find classics short stories by the likes of O. Henry and Ray Bradbury, but also by contemporary authors like Willy Vlautin, whom I'm also highlighting this week with his short story, "Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before."

Considering the title, it's no surprise that this story comes from the collection Please: Fiction Inspired By The Smiths. Though besides from the title, I'm not quite sure what the connection is. Maybe you can make an argument that the mood is very Smithsy (sarcastic ennui?), but that's a stretch. Then, that's alright with me. I've never been a huge fan of the Smiths. I like 'em and all, likewise with Morrissey's music, but I'm not as gaga over them as most Smiths fans are/were.

But I do like this story. There's a lot about ambition. In recent years I've come to question our culture's heavy emphasis on ambition. Are we not allowed to be happy with where we are and who we are now? I'd ask. But maybe it's just that we too often get ambition confused with materialism and pride. Yeah, I'm okay with ambition after all, just not those other things. I'm not sure if Vlautin's unnamed narrator ever comes around on the idea-- except maybe to make status quo his new ambition, rather than a default.

I also like this song, from the band Richmond Fontaine, which is fronted by Willy Vlautin:

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


Teddy Rose said...

Sounds like it's worth checking out. I just saved it to load in my Kobo.

I reviewed Fjord of Killary

Anonymous said...

Never really cared about the Smiths one way or the other, either.

I've got ghosts today.

Margot said...

I have a short story I didn't quite get. Other readers get it though.

It's on my blog here.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The Smiths tend to make a very good literary jumping off point, particularly for angst-ridden coming of age stories. I am off to read!