Review | Problems and Other Stories by John Updike

Genre: short stories, realistic fiction
Setting: all over America, 1970s
# of Pages: 285
Rating: 3.5/5

The skinny: Updike chronicles the painful mundane: life and love in America.

The fat: This collection of stories is one of the best portraits of everyday life in America I’ve ever come across (and I hate short stories usually, so that’s saying something). “How to Love America and Leave It at the Same Time” is especially poignant, and in the titular “Problems” the mathematics of emotion plumb unexpected depths. Updike harps too long on certain themes (divorce, infidelity) and all the main characters seem to be cut from exactly the same cloth (middle-aged while male divorcés–shocker, this is the ’70s) so that the stories start to feel repetitive, but overall a good, thought-provoking read.

Looking for writers to follow

Aside from being a studyblr, I also intend to make my blog a writing a blog… but first, I need some inspiration!

Reblog this post if you’re a writer who writes…

1. flash fiction

2. poems

3. short stories

4. novels

5. yuri on ice fanfiction (yes, this too)

6.essays or about personal life experiences

7. writing tips, tutorials, etc.

My news! My illustrated collection of original fairy tales set in the Grisha world will be coming out this fall. (Today, I got to see some of the illustrations for the stories, and talk to the design team working on the book, and I think the art for this book is going to be really special.) 

Link to the LA Times interview (I say many things!) 

Link the Fierce Reads fb page where you can submit questions for tomorrow’s Facebook live event at 3:30pm est TOMORROW (1/31) (who knows what things I may say!) 

And… more Grishaverse news coming later this year :) 

The saddest yet most beautiful story,
is when the sun created oceans from his tears,
so that the moon could see
how much he misses her,
when he died every night
to let her shine.
—  Does it take an ocean for you to see how much I miss you? // (Jana, @writtenbyjana on Instagram)
Being alone doesn’t mean sitting in a dark room
by yourself, being alone means sitting in a room
full of people yet feeling empty. All my life I’ve
craved the love I gave but somehow it always
missed me. I have a family, I have a roof over
my head and so much more and honestly I’m
so grateful for it all. But this loneliness kills me,
it breaks every dream and shatters any ounce of
hope I’ve gathered after all these years of trying.
I just want to be loved and not just by someone
who’ll leave, not from my family because I’ve let
that expectation go, not by friends who will leave
me when things get hard. I want someone to hold
my hand and tell me I’m not alone and that I will
never face the darkness that lives within me alone.
I just need someone to show me that even someone
like me can be loved, despite being a broken mess.
I swear all I want is someone to hug the broken
pieces back together, to reassure me that one day
everything will be okay and I’ll eventually be whole.
One day I won’t be this broken soul that I am.
—  Excerpt from a book I will never write #31
Jenseternity / instagram

Image: Amy Adams stars as a linguistics professor in Arrival. (Jan Thijs/Paramount Pictures)

The new film Arrival is based on a 1998 short story by Ted Chiang, a soft-spoken, 49-year-old technical writer based in Seattle. Every few years, Chiang comes out with a new short story that sweeps science fiction awards, including the Hugo and Nebula. But he’s only published 15 short stories since 1990.

“Fiction writing is very hard for me and I’m a very slow writer,” Chiang admits. “I don’t get that many ideas for stories. … And I like to take my time when I do get an idea for a story.”

‘Arrival’ Author’s Approach To Science Fiction? Slow, Steady And Successful

What if I can’t love you the way you deserve to be loved? Maybe that’s why we should go our separate ways and that this is a good thing, maybe that’s the silver lining.

You deserve someone who can give you more than you could ever know, more than this world could ever offer. You carry a very beautiful soul that should be cherished with every inch of love that exists, even if you don’t believe that.

And maybe I can’t do any of that.

Maybe it’s just not me.

—  c.f. // “I guess this time it was me”

I think we could learn a lot from the robots we’re building. Imagine talking to a machine fitted with an artificial intelligence that can communicate with us. We’d ask so many questions, just because we hope for something new so badly.

So we’d go to the robot and ask, “What’s your purpose?”

The robot would make a little beep or whatever noise it chooses to signify processing of data. “My purpose is whatever you programmed into me,” it would say.

And we’d be disappointed. Because that’s not new. “Oh.” Already thinking about ways to change the robot, we mutter to ourselves: “Aren’t you lucky, knowing exactly what you’re meant to do.”

The robot hears that, of course. Maybe it would laugh, maybe not, but it would certainly reach for us in its own way of soothing. And if we’d listen closely, I’m sure we’d hear pain in its emotional voice.

“Aren’t you lucky, choosing exactly what you want to do?”

I really tried baby, don’t ever think I didn’t. While you were out I was thinking about your stunning smile and your perfectly curved lips. When we got in arguments I would always make sure we were both over it before we went to bed, when you didn’t give me attention all I did was think about how I could get you happy again. When you were sad I held you until you felt better and then talked about it. What did you do for me?
The thing is, I know that you don’t love me, and I know you only want me for my body, and yet with all these things painfully obvious I still choose to put myself through the pain just to intertwine my body with yours at 11pm on a lonely night.
—  You’re the pain I crave
8 Techniques To Build Drama In Your Short Stories
When it comes to drama and intensity, are your short stories falling…short? Are readers reacting with “ho-hum” instead of “oh my!”? The…
By Writer’s Relief

When it comes to drama and intensity, are your short stories falling…short? Are readers reacting with “ho-hum” instead of “oh my!”? The good news is that it’s easy to give your short stories a boost of excitement — if you know the right techniques.