Shit! A picture of Gwen Stefani!
So, I've been doing a lot of research (not enough) into contemporary short story collections as vague sort of market research for my still nameless short story collection. I've bought a subscription to The Paris Review, and am guzzling down their short stories both in the magazine and on the website. I'm scrolling like crazy over on HTMLGIANT. And I'm getting distracted by watching No Doubt and Gwen Stefani's entire back catalogue of music videos on Youtube - and once, by mistake, on Vimeo .... urgh, hash tag shudder....
Other than discovering that Bathwater is probably their most aesthetically 90's video (low slung cargo pants, thongs looped round hip bones, hilarious editing colour effects), I found this little joy over on the afore mentioned literary blog of the future: It's the most recent Harper Perennial collection, entitled Forty Stories. It was previously Fifty-Two Stories, but whose counting. It's, as you might imagine, a selection of forty short stories from different writers of varying notability.
What is great about it is that you can DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE and enjoy all forty of these babies. My favourite so far is a story by Elizabeth Crane called, appropriately, I Like Looking At Pictures Of Gwen Stefani. What a God send this marvel is. Here's how it starts:
"I like looking at pictures of Gwen Stefani. I do not need to know any more about Gwen Stefani than she looks really good in red lipstick. Looking at pictures of Gwen Stefani in red lipstick with pale skin and pale hair and a white tank top and a baby on her hip provides as much information as I feel I need about Gwen Stefani in order to imagine Gwen Stefani in the way I want to imagine her. Very occasionally, I like listening to Gwen Stefani, but listening to Gwen Stefani does not affect the way I look at Gwen Stefani and what I get out of looking at Gwen Stefani. When I look at Gwen Stefani in her red lipstick I think maybe I should try red lipstick one more time, just to be sure, though really I know the truth, and my red-lipstick desires are almost fully satisfied by looking at pictures of Gwen Stefani. All that said, had Gwen Stefani never come into my line of sight, the likelihood is high that I would not feel that anything was missing."
I recommend following the above link and reading the rest of the story and then the rest of the collection - before going back to listen to old No Doubt hits for the five hundredth time.
Now, on with the work/procrastinating....