writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Author: Michael Hartford (Page 4 of 35)

“Yorrick” by Budi Darma

A student moves to an attic apartment on a quiet street hoping to connect with the beautiful girl across the street, and finds himself squeezed out from the society of the neighborhood by his roommate.

Another story set in an attic apartment in a neighborhood populated solely by the elderly and college students, with some wonderfully absurdist moments (the party where the narrator’s efforts at revenge take an O. Henry twist is especially strange). This touches on the same themes as the rest of the collection – loneliness, isolation, and the strange habits of Midwestern white people – with a somewhat more comic flair.

“Orez” by Budi Darma

A woman whose family seems cursed by miscarriage and birth defects has a child of her own, who seems possessed by an especially rambunctious and even violent nature.

This story has an almost fairy tale quality to it; the child Orez seems fantastical, almost imp-like. It may be the second-saddest story in the collection, with its conclusion leaving the child’s parents as isolated as ever while Orez himself is finally able to connect with his peers.

“The Family M” by Budi Darma

A man living in a large apartment building becomes obsessed with a family living nearby, at first wishing them ill and then wishing he could participate in their love and affection.

This is a very interior story; the narrator’s viewpoint gives unrelated events a feeling of causal determinism, and his feelings of loneliness and isolation color every encounter, no matter how mundane. It’s ultimately, I think, the saddest story in this collection, though it has absurdist humor running through it.

“Joshua Karabish” by Budi Darma

A young man submits his sickly roommate’s poems to a contest after his roommate’s death, and feels himself afflicted by the roommate’s illness.

Very much the same milieu as “The Old Man With No Name” – college student’s boarding in old people’s houses in Bloomington – and touching on similar themes of isolation. There’s a bit of an O. Henry feel to this one as well, with the protagonist causing unexpected and somewhat ironic events with his actions.

“The Old Man With No Name” by Budi Darma

A foreign student living in an attic apartment observes his elderly neighbors, including an old man whom he sees standing in the window across the street with a gun and with whom he forms an obsession.

This is a good introduction to Budi Darma’s “Bloomington” stories, touching on the themes of loneliness, isolation, and awkwardness that run through all of the stories in this collection. It’s also an interesting glimpse into some off the oddities of American life – notably yard work and hand guns – through an observant visitor’s eyes.

“Rogue Farm” by Charlie Stross

A farmstead is threatened by a biohacked organic collective creature with plans to launch itself to Jupiter.

This is an insanely inventive and rollicking story; I enjoyed how it throws one insane idea after another against the page without taking a moment to explain anything, implying an incredibly rich social and technological history that would take tomes to describe.

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