The thrill of victory…

If you immediately added “…and the agony of defeat”, you’re dating yourself.  You’re in good company, however. Olympic Games spectatorship has evolved from grainy black-and-white to glorious panoramic digital color, but no one has encapsulated TV viewers’ perception of the experience more wonderfully than ABC’s vintage “Wide World of Sports” slogan.

When the first broadcast event–ski jumping–airs on February 12, my DVR will capture it for me.  That and other wintery, photogenic activities offer scenarios in which to imagine myself performing feats not within the “possible” range, since remaining upright on a treadmill pushes the upper limit of my coordination.  When checking the online events calendar, I can resist opportunities to purchase a relay torch replica or collect all four limited edition Coke cans.  But what I would enjoy seeing on www.vancouver2010 is a suggestion for readers like me who hope to catch all the best competitions and still manage some quality time with books. 

Here’s one possibility: short story collections.  I am a fan of this genre at any time of the year but especially appreciate being able to fit a complete story in at the end of a sports footage-laden evening.  Sometimes, I choose a selection to fill in the intervals presented by less thrilling events.  I can read one or two stories during lunch and virtuously settle in front of the tube for hours of figure skating that night, secure in the knowledge that I’ve forestalled brain rot for yet another day.  

The short-story/screen combination has also succeeded in another sort of venture.  Did you know that these acclaimed movies were inspired by short stories:  Brokeback Mountain, The Shawshank Redemption (the story was “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”), and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The random sampling of short story editions below could enable you to stay in literary trim without missing a single goal or triple jump. 

New/contemporary:  Kevin Brockmeier’s The View from the Seventh Layer; Wells Towers’ Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned; Amy Bloom’s Where the God of Love Hangs Out

Collections by one favorite author:  The Vampire Stories: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Collected Stories of Louis L’Amour; Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg; Flannery O’Connor’s Collected Works

Classics or Modern Classics:   Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery; James Thurber’s Further Fables for our Time

Anthologies:  Gods and Soldiers: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing; The Best American Mystery Stories; Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops; New Stories from the South

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