Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 29, 2011

Short stories on my ipod and books I have read: Jennifer Egan and Julian Barnes – Julia Glass and Len Deighton

I came across the PRI short stories podcasts and downloaded Jennifer Egan‘s short story Safari.  I enjoyed listening to this story about a very successful Hollywood record producer who takes his  11-year-old son Ralph and 14-year-old daughter Charlie (Charlene)  and new girlfriend Mindy on a Safari.    Actors from Hollywood read the stories, this one is read by Hope Davis.  It is a marvellous story about what happens during their safari which changes their lives forever.     The best actors from Broadway and Hollywood read the stories.  At the end of the podcast there is also a short interview with Jennifer Egan in which she explains how she came to write this story.

As you know, I love short stories and read them on and off in between reading novels and non-fiction.  If you are a lover of short stories, you should visit the Selected Shorts website: it is great to be able to download excellent short stories have them read to you, whilst on a train or doing something as boring as your ironing!

Of course, I had to look up Jennifer Egan and came across this interview with her in the Economist in August 2010, to do with her new book A Visit from the Goon Squad.  I wonder if anyone out there has read this?  

Meanwhile I have read other books, although not reviewed (yet).  As well as reading other short stories by Julian Barnes from his collection ‘The Lemon Table‘, I carry around my e-reader which meanwhile has some 70 books or so and has become my travelling library.

On of these 70 books is Julia Glass ‘I see you everywhere’ , an excellent novel about the relationship between two sisters, Clem and Louise.  The two are quite different and Glass’s approach to telling their story is exciting and very well done.  The narrative is basically chronological, however, there are alternate chapters on Clem’s life and thoughts and on Louise’s.  It becomes clear that although they live completely different lives, most of the time at other sides of America or even on different continents, they are also inextricably connected and often think about how the other reacts or would react to their dilemma’s and way of life.   lurking in the background is forever their childhood and how they relate to their parents – they could not be more different.  Highly recommended in particular because of the very fine insights into sibling rivalry and love, as well as being so very well written.

I am slowly moving forward with Blair’s Journey but have now become engrossed in Len Deighton’s Winter.  I had no great expectations, but I find myself drawn into the history of this family in Germany, going back as far as 1900 and ending just after the second world war.   I have always been fascinated by the that period in history across Europe.  This fits right into that fascination and with wanting to know about what it was like living in Europe during that time.



  1. I don’t know how you do it – please say that you are traveling a lot and so are reading on the train. All these lovely books and stories. Thanks for the tip on the short story download. I find it difficult to get in all the reading I’d like; we’re having such a “real” winter here with snow and ice and then all of it getting tracked into the house by the dogs and inhabitants, I feel like I’m living with a floor mop in one hand and a snow shovel in the other!
    and it’s snowing again as I write this!

  2. Yes, I do sit on trains, forever, spend evenings in hotel rooms and sit over lonely dinners with a book perched next to my plate, and thenread myself to sleep. How sad is that? The alternative is to look at e-mails and work, but there is a limit don’t you think? When trains are crowded there’s nothing better than switching off with a book or ipod.
    I don’t believe all that snow! I just hope we’ve had the worse of it and even if it is forever grey at least the temperatures are creeping up nicely.
    It should be spring soon – keep fingers crossed.

  3. Have you read any more of Julia Glass’ work? I own all of them. Her latest, “The Widower’s Tale,” was fabulous, but I love them all. “The Whole World Over” might still be my favorite–and definitely one of my all-time favorite books.

  4. Laura – I’ve only just realised that this particular short story by Jennifer Egan is a chapter in her novel ‘A visit from the goon squad’, which I have just finished and reviewed.
    No, I have not read any other Julia Glass and really must do! I’ll definitely follow up this recommendation. Thanks for this.

    • That’s so wild! I guess the story came out independently before the novel. Julia Glass is amazing, and I hope you enjoy discovering more of her work.

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