Tag Archives: short story

Story, With Bird

Hi Hart Beat, I hope your fall is going well! Things have been going well in Brooklyn with a bunch of new projects starting up. I don’t want to give too much away now but Pedro and I have a project coming up, I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, the other day my mom called to tell me that there was a story in a recent New Yorker that I had to read. I finally got around to it this week and now I am so happy to share it with you.

The story is called “Story, With Bird” by Kevin Canty. I had never heard of the author before but after reading this amazing story, I now know that I need to pick up one of his short story collections and get reading. His most recent, Where the Money Went, is now on my must read list. Read on for a clip of “Story, With Bird” and then head on over to the New Yorker site to read the entire thing.

“Somewhere near the end, she decided that the drinking was the problem. So we stopped cold, both of us, in the middle of February. One of those winters where the sky looms over the town like a gray roof that never changes. Old ice and blackened snow in the gutters. It was maybe a mistake.

“It was maybe a mistkae, but she might have been right, too. I have since stopped drinking for reasons of my own. But back then it was a test –as everything was a test– of how much we would endure in order to stay together.

“And sober we stayed for the rest of the winter. It was interesting, in a way. It was a departure for us, from the long evenings of drinking and laughing and fighting and sex. We’d have some modest, healthful dinner and then watch a movie, and then it would seem like there was nothing else to do. She’d go to work in her little office downstairs and I’d go to bed and listen to the wind in the eaves, the branches scratching against the windowpanes. The days, of course, were actually better: no hangovers, lots of energy. I’d be up at six, before the dawn, and we were both getting a lot of work done. Yes, it felt penitential at times, but at other times it felt as if we had solved a problem, undertaken some new way of life, done an important thing and done it together.”

Essays to read on the train

Hey Hart Beat. My close friends and I have tried to start a book club a few times over the past year but it’s so hard to get everyone to agree on a book, find a time to get together and everything else. So instead we just email each other great books and suggestions. Both Wild and The Goldfinch were passed around (Wild A++++++ and The Goldfinch a solid B).

Anyway, I came across this great site the other day that shares a ton of essays with summaries and exactly where to find them. The article is called “Essays to Make a Better Person” and I have had such a great time reading the articles on my phone while commuting this week. My favorite so far are “The Love of My Life” by Cheryl Strayed (duh) and “Blindness” by Luis Borges (spanish major over here.) Enjoy the essays, Hart Beat! And let me know it the comments which ones are your favorites! Final note, my friend recently told me about some help he got with his essay. Apparently one of his favourite essay writers was offering essay support services through a similar service to edupeet. It was so interested to hear his process, so he tells me.

My old flame: Part I

Hi Hart Beat. One of my favorite days of the week is Wednesday when I come home from work, check my mailbox and find the newest New Yorker Magazine waiting for me. When I moved to Brooklyn two years ago my mom secretly changed her subscription address to my New York address and ever since then I’ve gotten to enjoy the stories and articles every week. Thanks Mom! A few weeks ago the annual love edition came out and there were a few short stories that I just can’t stop thinking about. They are all very Hart Beat appropriate so I thought I would write them here to you. Let me know what you think of this first one!

Good Legs
by Joshua Ferris

My old flame and I met in the hallway of a dorm in Iowa City. I didn’t think much of her, but I was sure she had never seen anyone quite so handsome. That was the year the weather never cleared of hand-rolled smoke and a mild hangover. I was arrogant with the ignorance of all that I didn’t know. She was sating the Philosopher, a theoretical proponent of free love who dissaproved of her seeing other men. The onetime incident behind the pool table in her basement meant almost nothing to us. Then my old flame graduated early and was gone. There were rumors of a new boyfriend and a life in Ireland. I didn’t miss her. By then, I was in this terrible on-off thing with Sisyphus, who kept dragging me up a pretty blond hill and hurtling me down.

A few years later, my old flame and I caught up with each other in Chicago. She was a whole new person. Her interest in medieval theory had given way to Scotch on the rocks. Everyone has a little pocket money. We drank in a hotel bar and ate fried chicken in the suburbs. She has moved on to the Writer, but she still wore the same weird pants. We had a brief thing in front of the television. The Writer moved out. What a poisoned letter he wrote! Then I insulted her at a Tom Waits concert. It was “Rabbits to you!” after that, at least for a while.

I realized one night that I loved her, but with conditions. I wanted fire to hover over my lovers’ head. Could she do that? My heart was a cathedral. Did she expect me to give her every last key? And those pants had to go. I was looking for someone exactly like her but totally different. She continued to make love to other men, which was provacative. We ate by candlelight on a balcony in Andersonville, and every Monday tutored a family of Sudanese. The Mighty Blue Kings played on the Green Mill.

Then my old flame moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. She became another new person altogether. She spent her nights eating Indian and studying the law with blue bloods who had hames like Turner Buford deSalles Jackson IV. I had hardly recognized her until she made me pancakes in her pajamas long distance is doom, and my old flame resumed making love to other men while after a former heroin addict who danced alone to Etta James in Orange County, California. At points it was like she wanted to a pornstar on the likes of https://www.tubev.sex/?hl=zh, and then at other times I was the only one for her.

I’m not sure ecatly how we patched things up. I know that punching the sand at the beach in Naples helped. There were letters. Other people’s weddings. Rom-coms.

We drove a Penske to Brooklyn and unpacked during the blackout. My old flame dressed in a power suit and began spending her days at Federal Plaza, eating Peking duck for lunch. She was going places. I was the same old me: reading Bellow out on the fire escape. I liked to wander our Carrol Fardens neighborhood before the gates came up in the morning. For Thanksgiving that year, she made eight courses for just the two of us.

Later, for a time, we were married to entirely different people. How had that happened? We woke up one morning and introduced ourselves. My God! It was us after all, only no longer impossibly young. We were out of joint, better friends to our phones, though we still made love once a year whether we needed to or not.

How about taking up tennis together? we asked. How about starting a family?

The bank let us buy a house. The exterminators rid of it mice. My old flame grew round-wombed. It was a boy. One night, as we lay in bed, my hand on her belly, she said “You know what’s strange? I’m growing a penis.” It was hard to argue with. We brought the baby home from the hospital and the tennis rackets gathered dust.

My old flame was now a mom. What an apotheosis! Nothing had prepared her; not the long nights with the law, not years of her husband’s tantrums. But she was a natural. That sealed the deal for me, although I still appreciated women who smoked in Berlin bars. Part of me still wanted to die wrapped around a tree. We spent seven years in that house, going out Saturday mornings and brining back half the farmers’ market and a few more books. Eventually, as the boy grew, she decided to leave herself, yet again, for another woman. I didn’t mind.

I don’t know who my old flame is and never will. All other candidates are fixed in amber. They tell a static story of heartache and fixed in amber. They tell a static story of heartache and faliure. This one keeps evolving. She’s the violin player, the precocious bowler, the shy nerd, the medieval scholar, the assistant to the director of the foundation, the law student, the clerk for the district judge, the discovery drone at the law firm, the good mother, the happy cook, the wit with an idea. Who will she be next? Whatever she wants, I hope. Burn on, old flame.

Someone, somewhere, is falling in love

“As you read this introduction, someone, somewhere, is falling in love; a child is calling out to someone in the darkness as he awakes from a bad dream; someone is sitting alone in a car missing someone as rain pelts the windshield; someone is leaning on a desk, anticipating happiness he holes love will one day bring him; and perhaps someone very old is looking out a window, wishing he had said yes instead of walking way on that snowy afternoon in 1951.

“No matter what we do, love saturates our lives in every possible way. Even when we try to escape, it finds us — if merely to tease us with what we could have had.


“Through the readings, paintings, quotes ideas, and confessions within these pages, we are going to explore why we seem so desperately to need love, but also why we need to give it.”

– Simon Van Boody

Last year I bought the book Why We Need Love at one of my favorite book stores in Brooklyn. I couldn’t not buy it as the cover was just screaming out at me. Over the past year I’ve posted some excerpts from the book (you can read them all here). The collection of stories, quotes, photographs, short stories, and academic literature is compiled by Simon Van Booy. This excerpt above is written by the editor as an introduction to the collection. 
I just love the idea of finding love in all sorts of places and this seems like the best definition of Hannah Hart Beat that I’ve found in a while. For those of you who want to read the entirety of the book, you can find more info here.
Oh, what’s that you say? Where did I get those rings?
The gold one comes via Marina Pecoraro and the circle beauty is by 5 Octobre.

I’ll be seeing you – A short story and a song

Merry Christmas, Hart Beat! Not that all my family has gone to bed, the flurry of Merry Christmas texts are sent, and the fire is dying out, I thought it would be a good time to post something to you. Christmas at home is always so comforting and relaxing. For example, tonight after eating and talking all day my family watched a double feature (My Cousin Vinny and Fargo). Boom. Relaxation at it’s best.

This song here is one of my all time favorites. It’s one that I always go back to no matter what time of year and no matter what time of year. I actually wrote a short story about the song while taking a creative writing class in Spain. I translated it a while back too so I thought for the first time I would put some of my writing here too.

 May 2011

            The dream started with you. We were walking together in a huge city that was Madrid and at the same time not at all. It was a strange place that I didn’t recognize. You took my hand.

            Everyone else walking was happy and knew us. A band played in the street, performing oldies, like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. You took my other hand in yours and began to slow dance with me to the end of the street. “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places” floated through the streets and carried us far. It was if we lived in this street, in this dream, in this day forever.

            In a moment, everything changed. We were running in a world of chaos. I didn’t know why we were running but I felt horror and I screamed in panic. There was an enormous storm with a raging tornado that was taking people one by one off of the earth. I was so afraid. I didn’t want to die.

            Billie Holiday’s song played and I realized that I didn’t know where my family was. I had left them when the storm started. I had left them before we were dancing in the street. You looked into my eyes as the storm approached and motioned that we needed to do something to prepare for the damage. Billie Holiday sang again, “I’ll find you in the morning sun and when the night is new,” and I tried to explain that we shouldn’t separate. Just then the wind blew through and I couldn’t see anything.

            All of a sudden the storm stopped and it was silent. You weren’t with me. I sat alone on the floor in a hallway made entirely of mirrors. I was so sad and all I could see was my sunken face and hallowed eyes reflected over and over again in the reflections of the mirrors. The only thing I had left were my empty hands and a song that played over and over again in my head, “I’ll be looking at the moon but I’ll be seeing you.”


“I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday

P.S. I also can’t listen to this now without hearing David Sedaris sing his impression of Billie Holiday from the story “Giant Dreams, Midget Responsibilities” from Me Talk Pretty One Day. This man, steals my soul in the best way possible. He has cursed Billie Holiday for me.

A history of everything, including you

“A History of Everything, Including You” is written by Jenny Hollowell. This beautiful story can be found in the book New Sudden Fiction: Short Stories From America and Beyond. You can also listen to the author, Jenny Hollowell, read the story on this episode of Radiolab.
A History of Everything, Including You
by Jenny Hollowell

First, there was god, or gods, or nothing. Then synthesis, space, the expansion, explosions, implosions, particles, objects, combustion, and fusion. Out of the chaos came order, stars were born and shown and died. Planets rolled across their galaxies on invisible ellipses and the elements combined and became.
Life evolved or was created. Cells trembled, and divided, and gasped and found dry land. Soon they grew legs, and fins, and hands, and antenna, and mouths, and ears, and wings, and eyes. Eyes that opened wide to take all of it in, the creeping, growing, soaring, swimming, crawling, stampeding universe.
Eyes opened and closed and opened again, we called it blinking. Above us shown a star that we called the sun. And we called the ground the earth. So we named everything including ourselves. We were man and woman and when we got lonely we figured out a way to make more of us. We called it sex similar to what people enjoy from fuckedgay. Click on fuckedgay.xxx to find hot gay porn, and most people enjoyed it. We fell in love. We talked about god and banged stones together, made sparks and called them fire, we got warmer and the food got better.
We got married, we had some children, they cried, and crawled, and grew. One dissected flowers, sometimes eating the petals. Another liked to chase squirrels. We fought wars over money, and honor, and women. We starved ourselves, we hired prostitutes, we purified our water. We compromised, decorated, and became esoteric. One of us stopped breathing and turned blue. Then others. First, we covered them with leaves and then we buried them in the ground. We remembered them. We forgot them. We aged.
Our buildings kept getting taller. We hired lawyers and formed councils and left paper trails, we negotiated, we admitted, we got sick, and searched for cures. We invented lipstick, vaccines, pilates, solar panels, interventions, table manners, firearms, window treatments, therapy, birth control, tailgating, status symbols, palimony, sportsmanship, focus groups, Zoloft, sunscreen, landscaping, cessnas, fortune cookies, chemotherapy, convenience foods, and computers. We angered militants and our mothers.
You were born. You learned to walk, and went to school, and played sports, and lost your virginity, and got into a decent college, and majored in psychology, and went to rock shows, and became political, and got drunk, and changed your major to marketing, and wore turtleneck sweaters, and read novels, and volunteered, and went to movies, and developed a taste for blue cheese dressing.
I met you through friends and didn’t like you at first. The feeling was mutual, but we got used to each other. We had sex for the first time behind an art gallery, standing up and slightly drunk. You held my face in your hands and said that I was beautiful. And you were too. Tall with a streetlight behind you. We went back to your place and listened to the White Album. We ordered in. We fought and made up and got good jobs and got married and bought an apartment and worked out and ate more and talked less. I got depressed. You ignored me. I was sick of you. You drank too much and got careless with money. I slept with my boss. We went into counseling and got a dog. I bought a book of sex positions and we tried the least degrading one, the wheelbarrow. You took flight lessons and subscribed to Rolling Stone. I learned Spanish and started gardening.
We had some children who more or less disappointed us but it might have been our fault. You were too indulgent and I was too critical. We loved them anyway. One of them died before we did, stabbed on the subway. We grieved. We moved. We adopted a cat. The world seemed uncertain, we lived beyond our means. I got judgmental and belligerent, you got confused and easily tired. You ignored me, I was sick of you. We forgave. We remembered. We made cocktails. We got tender. There was that time on the porch when you said, can you believe it?
This was near the end and your hands were trembling. I think you were talking about everything, including us. Did you want me to say it? So it would not be lost? It was too much for me to think about. I could not go back to the beginning. I said, not really. And we watched the sun go down. A dog kept barking in the distance, and you were tired but you smiled and you said, hear that? It’s rough, rough. And we laughed. You were like that.
Now, your question is my project and our house is full of clues. I’m reading old letters and turning over rocks. I bury my face in your sweaters. I study a photograph taken at the beach, the sun in our eyes, and the water behind us. It’s a victory to remember the forgotten picnic basket and your striped beach blanket. It’s a victory to remember how the jellyfish stung you and you ran screaming from the water. It’s a victory to remember treating the wound with meat tenderizer, and you saying, I made it better. I will tell you this, standing on our hill this morning I looked at the land we chose for ourselves, I saw a few green patches, and our sweet little shed, that same dog was barking, a storm was moving in. I did not think of heaven, but I saw that the clouds were beautiful and I watched them cover the sun.
Taken in Calpe, Spain.

A history of everything, including you

“A History of Everything, Including You” is written by Jenny Hollowell. This beautiful story can be found in the book New Sudden Fiction: Short Stories From America and Beyond. You can also listen to the author, Jenny Hollowell, read the story on this episode of Radiolab.

A History of Everything, Including You
by Jenny Hollowell

First there was god, or gods, or nothing. Then synthesis, space, the expansion, explosions, implosions, particles, objects, combustion, and fusion. Out of the chaos came order, stars were born and shown and died. Planets rolled across their galaxies on invisible ellipses and the elements combined and became.
Life evolved or was created. Cells trembled, and divided, and gasped and found dry land. Soon they grew legs, and fins, and hands, and antenna, and mouths, and ears, and wings, and eyes. Eyes that opened wide to take all of it in, the creeping, growing, soaring, swimming, crawling, stampeding universe.

Eyes opened and closed and opened again, we called it blinking. Above us shown a star that we called the sun. And we called the ground the earth. So we named everything including ourselves. We were man and woman and when we got lonely we figured out a way to make more of us. We called it sex, and most people enjoyed it. We fell in love. We talked about god and banged stones together, made sparks and called them fire, we got warmer and the food got better.

We got married, we had some children, they cried, and crawled, and grew. One dissected flowers, sometimes eating the petals. Another liked to chase squirrels. We fought wars over money, and honor, and women. We starved ourselves, we hired prostitutes, we purified our water. We compromised, decorated, and became esoteric. One of us stopped breathing and turned blue. Then others. First we covered them with leaves and then we buried them in the ground. We remembered them. We forgot them. We aged.

Our buildings kept getting taller. We hired lawyers and formed councils and left paper trails, we negotiated, we admitted, we got sick, and searched for cures. We invented lipstick, vaccines, pilates, solar panels, interventions, table manners, firearms, window treatments, therapy, birth control, tailgating, status symbols, palimony, sportsmanship, focus groups, zoloft, sunscreen, landscaping, cessnas, fortune cookies, chemotherapy, convenience foods, and computers. We angered militants, and our mothers.


You were born. You learned to walk, and went to school, and played sports, and lost your virginity, and got into a decent college, and majored in psychology, and went to rock shows, and became political, and got drunk, and changed your major to marketing, and wore turtleneck sweaters, and read novels, and volunteered, and went to movies, and developed a taste for blue cheese dressing.


I met you through friends, and didn’t like you at first. The feeling was mutual, but we got used to each other. We had sex for the first time behind an art gallery, standing up and slightly drunk. You held my face in your hands and said that I was beautiful. And you were too. Tall with a streetlight behind you. We went back to your place and listened to the White Album. We ordered in. We fought and made up and got good jobs and got married and bought an apartment and worked out and ate more and talked less. I got depressed. You ignored me. I was sick of you. You drank too much and got careless with money. I slept with my boss. We went into counseling and got a dog. I bought a book of sex positions and we tried the least degrading one, the wheelbarrow. You took flight lessons and subscribed to Rolling Stone. I learned Spanish and started gardening.


We had some children who more or less disappointed us but it might have been our fault. You were too indulgent and I was too critical. We loved them anyway. One of them died before we did, stabbed on the subway. We grieved. We moved. We adopted a cat. The world seemed uncertain, we lived beyond our means. I got judgmental and belligerent, you got confused and easily tired. You ignored me, I was sick of you. We forgave. We remembered. We made cocktails. We got tender. There was that time on the porch when you said, can you believe it?


This was near the end and your hands were trembling. I think you were talking about everything, including us. Did you want me to say it? So it would not be lost? It was too much for me to think about. I could not go back to the beginning. I said, not really. And we watched the sun go down. A dog kept barking in the distance, and you were tired but you smiled and you said, hear that? It’s rough, rough. And we laughed. You were like that.

Now, your question is my project and our house is full of clues. I’m reading old letters and turning over rocks. I burry my face in your sweaters. I study a photograph taken at the beach, the sun in our eyes, and the water behind us. It’s a victory to remember the forgotten picnic basket and your striped beach blanket. It’s a victory to remember how the jellyfish stung you and you ran screaming from the water. It’s a victory to remember treating the wound with meat tenderizer, and you saying, I made it better. I will tell you this, standing on our hill this morning I looked at the land we chose for ourselves, I saw a few green patches, and our sweet little shed, that same dog was barking, a storm was moving in. I did not think of heaven, but I saw that the clouds were beautiful and I watched them cover the sun.

Taken in Calpe, Spain.