S.O. Book News

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IN THIS POST: Dan Chaon, Colleen Werthmann, Christine Hill, Charles Baxter, Bob Powers.

This is the eleventh installment in a series of twenty posts announcing — in no particular order — which 100 stories will be collected in the Significant Objects book (forthcoming in 2011 from Fantagraphics).


51. Dan Chaon’s COOKING FORK story. Excerpt:

It was a two-pronged carving fork with a bright red plastic handle. When I was twelve, I stole it from the silverware drawer. I was very interested in the weapons of fantasy at that time: halberds and katanas, daggers and scimitars. The sorts of things your character would wield if you were playing Dungeons & Dragons.

For a while, I pretended the fork was a magical treasure I’d found in a barrow, and I hid it in my room under the mattress. During the autumn of seventh grade, I used to like to poke myself with the fork. Late at night, when my door was locked. This was before I’d discovered masturbation.


52. Colleen Werthmann’s ABSOLUTION FIGURINE story. Excerpt:

The altar kids (boys and girls, now!) pick their nails during the homily, hoping nobody’s watching. They wear nice pants and nice shoes under their cassocks, no sneakers, definitely no sneakers. Scheduled depending on who has a swim meet, who’s got ice time, who’s visiting their relatives. In the sacristy now, one of the Eucharistic Ministers is always around ahead of time. You know, just in case.

Disillusionment is a box of Communion wafers. 1000 quantity. Sale price $11.89, originally $16.99. You save $5.10!


53. Christine Hill’s WOODEN BOTTLE story. Excerpt:

On Sunday when we are feeling lighthearted, M is waving the bottle around in dramatic poses, playing judge and jury, and then orchestra conductor. When it is my turn to act out, I thunk him over the head with it playfully and he says, in his German accent, “Aua, that actually hurts.”

I come home one evening late after we’ve had a disagreement and the bottle is next to our bed, playing the role of a bud vase, sporting one little pink blossom. M is contrite and I worry that the cat will knock it over and cause my copy of Maintaining Your Polyamorous Union to get soaked.


54. Charles Baxter’s CERAMIC SHELL story. Excerpt:

“Was Professor Schlempp able to determine of what materials the meteorite consisted?” Emily inquired, somewhat baffled, syntactically, by all the attention her discovery was garnering.

“Yes, he was,” Mr. Duderstadt said.

“What’s in it?” the impatient schoolgirl asked.

“Well, that’s the interesting part,” Mr. Duderstadt said, leaning back in his chair, and rearranging his necktie. “Professor Schlempp put it into his spectrometer, and then placed a tiny microscopic sample into the Gigatron® electron microscope, and then, dissatisfied with his result, put the meteorite into the university’s Super-Vulcan X-ray Analysis Machine, where a definitive analysis finally became possible.”


“Well, here’s the surprise,” said the genial wizard of Kiesiewicz High. “The piece naturally has a high content of Iron, whose symbol, as you know, is fe. But more interesting was Schlempp’s discovery that the object has a high content of the rare earth, Probabilium, along with a certain amount of Potassium, Cyanide, and Blorth.”

“Blorth?” asked Emily. “That’s awesome!”


55. Bob Powers’ CHROME TURTLE story. Excerpt:

“Won’t be neighbors for long,” I said. I was moving out of my roommate situation and into my girlfriend Paula’s place. Paula owned.

“Looks like,” she said. She was moving out of her studio and into her boyfriend Max’s place. Max inherited.

“I’ll take it,” I said, holding up the turtle. She offered to give me a freebie, saying there might still be some of my blood on one of the feet, but I insisted. She charged me two bucks and my cell phone number.

We never even got the boxes unpacked. At first we’d do it at Paula’s, since Paula’s schedule was more reliable than Max’s. Then we fought about risk-sharing, so we started doing it at Max’s, but only when he traveled.


MORE NEWS: For updates about the Significant Objects project and forthcoming collection, visit the archive and subscribe via RSS. For Author Updates, visit the archive and subscribe via RSS. Also: Check out the Significant Objects Bookstore!


"Significant Objects combines one of the oldest of all media — the near-improvised short story — with the reinvigorated writer-reader relationship afforded by Web 2.0." — The Independent's Couch Surfer. Follow us on Twitter; join us on Facebook.

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