Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Short of It

-"The short story is like an old friend who calls whenever he is in town. We are happy to hear from it; we casually fan the embers of past intimacies, and buy it lunch."
~R.Z. Sheppard quotes

          I love a good short story.
          I think that it is amazing when a writer, in less than 40 (sometimes less than 2) pages can tell you a whole entire story complete with character development, suspense and life changing themes and morals.
          I find that people who don't like short stories don't like them because a short story ask you to infer so much, sometimes it even ask you to infer the ending...most short story endings are not clear cut. I, personally, like that.

About the short story
English Companion
Collected Short Stories

Some excellent short story reviews from fellow bloggers
Exercises in Style
Blackbird House
The Interlopers
2 by Eudora Welty
Elizabeth Bowen stories
Body English (lots of short story reviews)

Short Stories: The List (My favorites)
Link is to the story itself or to the book in which it can be found.

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World"...Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"The first children who saw the dark and slinky bulge approaching through the sea let themselves think it was an enemy ship. Then they saw it had no flags or masts and they thought it was a whale. But when it washed up on the beach, they removed the clumps of seaweed, the jellyfish tentacles, and the remains of fish and flotsam, and only then did they see that it was a drowned man."

"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"...Raymond Carver
"My friend Mel McGinnis was talking. Mel McGinnis is a cardiologist, and sometimes that gave him the right.
The four of us were sitting around his kitchen table drinking gin. Sunlight filled the kitchen from the big window behind the sink. There were Mel and me and his second wife,  Teresa--Terri, we called her--and wife, Laura. We lived in Albuquerque then. But we were all from somewhere else."

"My Dead Brother Comes to America"...Alexander Godin
"When we arrived in New York Bay it was already winter, and the ground was covered with a hard brittle coat of snow. The whole harbor, as far as our eyes could reach, seemed to have been enameled with one vigorous sweep of the brush; standing on the deck, the sun high overhead, it hurt our eyes to look upon so much whiteness."

"Hills Like White Elephants"...Ernest Hemingway
"The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. ..."

"Cabulliwallah"...Rabindranath Tagore
"Mini, my five-year-old daughter, cannot live without chattering. I really believe that in all her life she has not wasted one minute in silence. Her mother is often vexed at this and would stop her prattle, but I do not. To see Mini quiet is unnatural and I cannot bear it for long. Because of this, our conversations are always lively."

"Harrison Bergeron"...Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
"The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the ceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General."

"Gaston"...William Saroyan
"They were to eat peaches, as planned, after her nap, and now she sat across from the man who would have been a total stranger except that he was in fact her father. They had been together again (although she couldn't quite remember when they had been together before) for almost a hundred years now, or was it only since day before yesterday? Anyhow, they were together again, and he was kind of funny. ..."

"The Story of an Hour"...Kate Chopin
"Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death."

"A Good Man is Hard to Find"...Flannery O'Connor
"The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. 'Now look here, Bailey,' she said, 'see here, read this,' and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. 'Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did.'"

"Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?"...Joyce Carol Oates
"Her name was Connie. She was fifteen and she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right. Her mother, who noticed everything and knew everything and who hadn't much reason any longer to look at her own face, always scolded Connie about it. "Stop gawking at yourself. Who are you? You think you're so pretty?" she would say. Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar old complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything. Her mother had been pretty once too, if you could believe those old snapshots in the album, but now her looks were gone and that was why she was always after Connie."

"The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"...Katherine Anne Porter
"She flicked her wrist neatly out of Doctor harry's pudgy careful fingers and pulled the sheet up to her chin. The brat ought to be in knee breeches. Doctoring around the country with spectacles on his nose" 'Get along now, take your schoolbooks and go. There's nothing wrong with me.'"

"A Jury of Her Peers"...Susan Glaspell
"When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away--it was probably farther from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted."

"A Cup of Tea"...Katherine Mansfield
"Rosemary Fell was not exactly beautiful. No, you couldn't have called her beautiful. Pretty? Well, if you took her to pieces...But why be so cruel as to take anyone to pieces? She was young, brilliant, extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read in the newest of the books,  and her parties were the most delicious mixture of the really important people..and artists--quaint creatures, discoveries of hers, some of them too terrifying for words, but others quite presentable and amusing."

"The Veldt"...Ray Bradbury
"'George, I wish you'd look at the nursery.'
'What's wrong with it?'
'I don't know.'
'Well, then.'"

"The Revolt of 'Mother'"...Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
'What is it?'
'What are them men diggin' over there in the field for?'
There was a sudden dropping and enlarging of the lower part of the old man's face, as if some heavy weight had settled therein; he shut his mouth tight, and went on harnessing the great bay mare. He hustled the collar on to her neck with a jerk."

"Winter Night"...Kay Boyle
"There is a time of apprehension which begins with the beginning of darkness, and to which only the speech of love can lend security. It is there, in abeyance, at the end of every day, not urgent enough to be given the name of fear but rather of concern for how the hours are to be reprieved from fear, and those who have forgotten how it was when they were children can remember nothing of this. ..."

"The Weapon"...Fredric Brown
The room was quiet in the dimness of early evening. Dr. James Graham, key scientist of a very important project, sat in his favorite chair, thinking. It was so still that he could hear the turning of the pages in the next room as his son leafed through a picture book."

"Everyday Use"...Alice Walker
"I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon. A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house."

"The Fan Club"...Rona Maynard
"It was Monday again. It was Monday and the day was damp and cold. Rain splattered the cover of Alegbra I as Laura leaved her books higher on her arm and sighed. School was such a bore. School. It loomed before her now, massive and dark against the sky. In a few minutes, she would have to face them again--Diane Goddard with her sleek blond hair and Terri Pierce in her candy-pink sweater. ..."

"The Things They Carried"...Tim O'Brien
"First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of the runsack. In the laste afternoon, after a day's march, he would dig his foxhole, wash his hands under a canteen, unwrap the letters, hold them with the tips of his fingers, and spend the last hour of light pretending."

and...short stories previously listed here and here!

Happy Reading!

What's your favorite short story?


  1. Thanks for posting so many of your favorite short stories. I have only read one that is considered "short" and it was The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons...and I really liked it. Now with your list, I can find many more to enjoy. Thanks again!

  2. Oh I do love a short story too! What a fun list, will have to check out some I haven't read.
    I recently read "The Universe in Miniature in Miniature" and totally loved it. Refreshing break from the long stuff.

  3. I've bookmarked this post as I definitely don't read enough short stories. Thanks for posting :)

  4. Hi! I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award:

  5. What a great post - and a mighty list of riches. I love F Scott Fitzgerald's short stories.

  6. This is really a great post-thanks to the links to my Bowen posts-

    I would like to invite you to consider participating in

    Irish Short Story Week-3/14 to 3/20



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