The Disaster Store


This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Disaster Store” (2019) by Helen Phillips. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Helen Phillips, born in 1981, is a distinguished writer from America who is known for her novels and short stories. She is a recipient of numerous accolades such as the Iowa Review Nonfiction Award and the Italo Calvino Prize for Fabulist Fiction. Among her notable works are the 2015 novel, "The Beautiful Bureaucrat", and the 2017 short story compilation, "And Yet They Were Happy". In 2019, her short story titled "The Disaster Store" was featured in Guernica magazine.

Excerpt from the study guide:

The conflict between the narrator and her daughter emerges because the narrator feels overwhelmed by her anxiety and the impending storm, while her daughter is only concerned with a childish interest – eating ice cream. Furthermore, the daughter fails to see that her mother’s anxiety is also fuelled by concerns about her children’s health and future: “But I am worried. At her most recent appointment, the doctor asked if we had noticed any signs of puberty”. 

The relationship with her daughter generally helps the narrator keep calm and sane during uncertain times. The two of them communicate “all the time”, talking about the present and the future. However, thinking “that far into an uncertain future” makes the narrator anxious and fearful. 

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The Disaster Store

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