August 2014 favorites


August 2014

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Bright And Morning Star’ by Richard Wright
  2. ‘Symbols And Signs’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. ‘The Chrysanthemums’ by John Steinbeck
  4. ‘Free Fruit For Young Widows’ by Nathan Englander
  5. ‘The School’ by Donald Barthelme
  6. ‘The Night The Bed Fell’ by James Thurber
  7. ‘My First Goose’ by Isaac Babel
  8. ‘The Wood Duck’ by James Thurber
  9. ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ by James Thurber
  10. ‘The Fireman’s Wife’ by Richard Bausch
  11. ‘The Killers’ by Ernest Hemingway
  12. ‘In The Penal Colony’ by Franz Kafka
  13. ‘He’ by Katherine Anne Porter
  14. ‘The Rich Brother’ by Tobias Wolff
  15. ‘Lovers Of The Lake’ by Sean O’Faolain
  16. ‘First Love’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  17. ‘The Mysterious Kor’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  18. ‘Thirst’ by Ivo Andric
  19. ‘In Another Country’ by Ernest Hemingway
  20. ‘The Iron City’ by Lovell Thompson
  21. ‘Dusky Ruth’ by A.E. Coppard
  22. ‘The Odour Of Chrysanthemums’ by D.H. Lawrence
  23. ‘The Door’ by E.B. White
  24. ‘The Camberwell Beauty’ by V.S. Pritchett
  25. ‘The Fly’ by Katherine Mansfield
  26. ‘Christ In Concrete’ by Pietro di Donato
  27. ‘American Express’ by James Salter
  28. ‘The Piano’ by Anibal Monteiro Machado
  29. ‘The Greatest Man In The World’ by James Thurber
  30. ‘Men’ by Kay Boyle
  31. ‘A Couple Of Hamburgers’ by James Thurber

‘Dusky Ruth’ by A.E. Coppard


Coppard, A.E. 1921

Dusky Ruth by A.E. Coppard, 1921

The magic trick:

Imbuing his tale of a one-night stand with just the right amount of sexuality

“Dusky Ruth” is about a one-night stand, so it stands to reason that sexuality is at the heart of the story. That kind of thing can go off the rails real fast, but Coppard lays it on in just the right amount. He captures well the desperate desire and temporary passion inherent to such an encounter. Likewise, he is spot-on in his portrayal of the sober return to reality brought forth by the following morning.

A century later, it’s a favorite topic of another British pop-culture institution, rock band the Arctic Monkeys; surely Alex Turner would enjoy this lustful little nugget of a story. And that’s quite a trick on Coppard’s part.

The selection:

He whispered: “Ruth!” and she was standing there. She touched him, but not speaking. He put out his hands, and they met round her neck; her hair was flowing in its great wave about her; he put his lips to her face and found that her eyes were streaming with tears, salt and strange and disturbing. In the close darkness he put his arms about her with not thought but to comfort her; one hand had plunged through the long tresses and the other across her hips before he realized she was ungowned; then he was aware of the softness of her breasts and the cold naked sleekness of her shoulders. But she was crying there, crying silently with great tears, her strange sorrow stifling his desire.