‘To Hell With Dying’ by Alice Walker

To Hell With Dying by Alice Walker, 1967 Continue reading

July 2018 favorites

July 2018

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘So Peaceful In The Country’ by Carl Ruthven Offord
  2. ‘God Bless America’ by John Oliver Killens
  3. ‘Muttsy’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  4. ‘Sanctuary’ by Nella Larsen
  5. ‘Blood-Burning Moon’ by Jean Toomer
  6. ‘On Trains’ by James Alan McPherson
  7. ‘Landladies’ by Langston Hughes
  8. ‘Kiswana Browne’ by Gloria Naylor
  9. ‘Simple On Military Integration’ by Langston Hughes
  10. ‘Condemned House’ by Lucille Boehm
  11. ‘Simple Prays A Prayer’ by Langston Hughes
  12. ‘Feet Live Their Own Life’ by Langston Hughes
  13. ‘Steady Going Up’ by Maya Angelou
  14. ‘Exodus’ by James Baldwin
  15. ‘Mother’ by Andrea Lee
  16. ‘Long Distances’ by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  17. ‘Simple On Indian Blood’ by Langston Hughes
  18. ‘Conversation On The Corner’ by Langston Hughes
  19. ‘The Diary Of An African Nun’ by Alice Walker
  20. ‘Vacation’ by Langston Hughes

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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January 2015 favorites


January 2015

The January stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘How I Met My Husband’ by Alice Munro
  2. ‘Bardon Bus’ by Alice Munro
  3. ‘One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts’ by Shirley Jackson
  4. ‘The Open Boat’ by Stephen Crane
  5. ‘Where I’m Calling From’ by Raymond Carver
  6. ‘The Drunkard’ by Frank O’Connor
  7. ‘The Wind And The Snow Of Winter’ by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  8. ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker
  9. ‘The Enormous Radio’ by John Cheever
  10. ‘The View From Castle Rock’ by Alice Munro
  11. ‘Boys And Girls’ by Alice Munro
  12. ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Stars’ by Junot Diaz
  13. ‘The Skull’ by Philip K. Dick
  14. ‘The NRACP’ by George P. Elliott
  15. ‘Train’ by Alice Munro
  16. ‘The Other Foot’ by Ray Bradbury
  17. ‘Pigeon Feathers’ by John Updike
  18. ‘Jokester’ by Isaac Asimov
  19. ‘Tell Me A Riddle’ by Tillie Olsen
  20. ‘The Speech Of Polly Baker’ by Benjamin Franklin
  21. ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke

‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker

Walker, Alice 1973

Everyday Use by Alice Walker, 1973

The magic trick:

Beginning the story with the narrator’s daydream

The relationship between a first-person narrator and a reader is by its very nature an intimate one. A story begins and here is this person telling us about their life. In “Everyday Use,” the connection is even more personal than usual. Walker begins the story with her narrator telling the reader about a daydream. The narrator imagines meeting her daughter not in her shabby country home but instead on the Johnny Carson Show. She imagines herself as thin, fashionable and witty, before leveling with the reader that in reality she is none of these things. It’s heartbreakingly honest and immediately takes down any barrier between her narration and the reader. We feel as if we are not just reading her story; we are her confidants, we are on her side. And that’s quite a trick on Walker’s part.

The selection:

Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort. Out of a dark and soft-seated limousine I am ushered into a bright room filled with many people. There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who shakes my hand and tells me what a fine girl I have. Then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers.