Deal Me In – Week 30 Wrap Up

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Below are this week’s links to new posts since the last wrap up and a couple “extras.” 🙂

On the good news front, the New Yorker has recently opened part of their short story archive for free reading for a limited time. For more info, see the following link http://www.newyorker.com/books/double-take/summer-archive This is an exciting source of FREE stories.

I also found the following, which may be of interest to some short story readers, what with the news headlines of the day: http://arablit.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/the-book-of-gaza-short-stories-from-four-decades/

Among this weeks posts, we welcome the “return” of The Returning Reader, who shares some thoughts on Laila Lalami’s “Homecoming” at http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/short-story-25-homecoming-laila-lalami/

Dale reads Henryk Sienkiewicz’s “The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall” at http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/henryk-sienkiewicz-the-lighthouse-keeper-of-aspinwall/

Randall posts about Anne Battie’s “Solid Wood” at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/07/solid-wood-by-ann-beattie.html

Katherine draws Steven Millhauser’s “Rain” from her bag of tricks, which also includes a video link featuring the seven of diamonds: http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/deal-me-in-week-30-rain/

Deal Me In has its fourth “twin” of the year as I become the second participant to read Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet.” Just scroll down or click https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/anton-chekhovs-the-bet/

I think that’s everybody. If I missed anyone, leave a link in the comments. Until next week, happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten New To Me Authors I read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by the blog, “The Broke and The Bookish.”

Thank God for my short story reading project. Without it, I don’t think I have read ten “new to me authors” this year. About half of the following are form short story reading. Here they are, in descending order with #1 being my favorite.

10. Kevin Lynn Helmick
His novella “Driving Alone: A Love Story” was “different” and brilliant.

9. Douglas Watson
I loved his short story collection “The Era of Not Quite.” Read my post about it here.

8. Kyle Minor
His story collection “In the Devil’s Territory” was one of my favorite books of the year. I posted about it here.

7. Caitlyn Horrocks
Her short story, “The Sleep,” will be a finalist in my upcoming 2013 short story reading project awards post. See my post about it here.

6. Hugh Howey
I was spellbound by his runaway self-published hit “Wool” earlier this year. What a page-turner!

5. Henryk Sienkiewicz
The “elder statesman” on this list, his short story, “The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall” was wonderful.

4. Neil Gaiman
Yes, I’d never read him until this year’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” He hasn’t seen the last of me…

3. Steven Milhauser
His unique short story “Phantoms” was also among my favorites of the year. I think he also has a new story in the latest New Yorker. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s in my plans.

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2. Ruth Ozeki (above)
I just finished it, but certainly one of my favorite novels of recent years was her “A Tale for the Time Being.” I highly recommend it.

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1. Betty Smith (above)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was my other favorite novel for the year. A classic that I had somehow neglected until now. Also highly recommended.

Other new to me authors I enjoyed (“Honorable Mention” if you will): Alexander Pushkin, Rob Smales, Lori Benton, Jade Eby, R.J. Sullivan, Robert Rebein, Marissa Meyer (the Lunar Chronicles one, not the Yahoo CEO), Stephen Chbosky, Eric Garrison, Orson Scott Card, Kristal Stittle, Hagiwara Sakutar, Sam Lipsyte, Claire Keegan, Charles Beaumont, Rebecca Emin, and Alice Adams.

What a fun list to put together! Being reminded of discovering all these great, new (to me) authors made me feel good about my 2013 reading accomplishments.

What about YOU? Who were your favorite literary discoveries in 2013?

The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Henryk Sienkiewicz

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This story is also known as “Latarnik” (I think) the Polish word for lighthouse keeper.

Near the Isthmus of Panama a lighthouse keeper dies, and a replacement must be found quickly. The only candidate to present himself is the 70-year old “Yankee” (by way of Poland) named Skavinski. Why does he want the job? He has spent his life wandering the world and yet never quite achieving his dreams and is ready to rest. He tells his potential employer, “This place is one of those which I have wished for most ardently. I am old, I need rest. I need to say to myself, ’Here you will remain. This is your port.’”

Though the man who hires him is a little skeptical about his fitness for the job due to his age, he gains the position nonetheless, and it is everything he thought it would be. He grows “intoxicated with happiness.” He becomes finely tuned to the natural rhythm of the island where the lighthouse sits.

“At last it seems to him that the heavens, the water, his rock, the tower, the golden sandbanks, and the swollen sails, the sea-mews, the ebb and flow of the tide – all form a mighty unity, one enormous mysterious soul; that he is sinking in that mystery, and feels the soul which lives and lulls itself.”

He is still an aging man, though, and of course is not immune to the fears and anxieties that operate on one who is growing old.

“Sailors assert that sometimes when the sea is greatly roused, something from out the midst of night and darkness calls them by name. If the infinity of sea may call out thus, perhaps when a man is growing old, calls come to him, too, from another infinity still darker and more deeply mysterious; and the more he is wearied by life the dearer those calls are to him. But to hear them quiet is needed.”

Near the end of the story, when Skavinski has discovered “a rest so great that it nearly resembles half-death.” The reader is greeted with a one-sentence paragraph: “But the awakening came.” I must admit my reading pace accelerated for the final four pages, eager to learn what this awakening was and what effect it would have on him.

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I had not heard of Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) before assigning this story to the ten of diamonds for my 2013 annual reading project. I found it in my Great Short Stories of the World anthology, which presents the stories in order of the nationality of their author. Sienkiewicz also wrote the novel Quo Vadis. I haven’t read it but am familiar with that title from the 1951 Hollywood movie of the same name.

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What a great story this was! It’s available free online. Would you like to read it?

I’ve often joked that the ideal job for me would be that of a lighthouse keeper (as long as the lighthouse had Internet access, of course!). I actually enjoy solitude and prefer it most of the time. I’ve also visited several lighthouses in my day, the most famous being the great lighthouse at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina (pictured below after its painstaking relocation in 1999). What about you? Have you read Sienkiewicz or other Polish authors? Have you, too, ever dreamt of being a lighthouse keeper?

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See my “deck” of short story selections here. Diamonds are my suit for authors I had not read previously.

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