The Listen Here! Short Story Reading Series gets off the ground this week with its first readings at Willoughby's Coffee & Tea at 194 York Street, at 7 p.m. Our theme? "What Did She See in Him?"
Our stories? Raymond Carver's "Fat" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Jelly-Bean"
Why these? "Why not" would be too glib an answer. First and foremost, they're really good.
Second, did I mention that they're good?
"Fat" is one of Raymond Carver's finest tales. In the tradition of Carson McCullers' Ballad of the Sad Cafe, it takes what would otherwise be a classic sideshow freak and turns one customer's gastronomic compulsion into a story of salvation for the waitress who must serve that compulsion. It's a tale marked by the quiet bittersweetness and powerful subtextual currents that typify all of Carver's stories.
Fitzgerald's "The Jelly-Bean" was published in the October 1920 issue of Metropolitan Magazine and was later collected in Six Tales of the Jazz Age. This classic short story wonderful captures a generation's embrace of the imminent freedoms promised by the Roaring Twenties, but not without pain and wasted possibility. Sympathy and pathos mix liberally in a story about a time when both were so deeply needed after the terribleness of the Great War.