Granta I haven't yet read. Although Granta calls itself "the magazine of new writing" and is published quarterly, it is more like a book, both in format and content. Granta started in 1889, the literary magazine of Cambridge University, and was re-launched in the late seventies in its current form, with each issue having a theme and containing fiction, essays, and photos from new and established writers. Currently there are 109 issues published, and I figure I've read maybe half of the issues in its current incarnation. Even though it's a periodical, it really doesn't matter to me whether I'm reading an old issue or a new issue; I just want one I haven't read before. I just finished reading Granta 70, Australia: The New New World from Summer 2000. My favorite piece in it is an excerpt from True History of the Kelly Gang, First Part. This excerpt begins with an old-fashioned black and white photo of the outlaw Ned Kelly with his big beard and swooped up forelock shot the day before he was hanged in 1880. An introductory paragraph claims the following account is in Ned Kelly's own words, taken from a recently discovered autobiographical manuscript. Writing for his own young daughter, Kelly tells the story of his poverty-ridden childhood with his mother, siblings and jailed father in lively dialect, often using the word "adjectival" to fill in for a cuss word: "If youse don't come now you'll get no adjectival dinner." After I finished reading the entire Granta (there's also some great photos of Aborigines in an alcohol/drug treatment program by Polly Borland), I passed it on to Sean who asked what story I liked best. I told him to read the Kelly Gang piece, and he's the one who noticed that this supposedly autobiographical work was by Peter Carey. A few days later I found the hardback novel True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey on the sale rack at Half Price Books for $2 and now Sean and I are reading it out loud to each other in the evenings.
I also recently finished two books of short stories by different authors. One is called Throw Like a Girl by Jean Thompson, which actually inspired me to request a novel from the library by the same author. The other is In Strange Gardens by Peter Stamm, a Swiss writer translated from German. These are pretty understated (some are just a few pages long) slice-of-life stories often depicting missed connections and isolation.
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