December 2017 favorites

December 2017

The December stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Vanka’ by Anton Chekhov
  2. ‘Master Eustace’ by Henry James
  3. ‘Christmas Poem’ by John O’Hara
  4. ‘Brothers’ by Sherwood Anderson
  5. ‘Cat Person’ by Kristen Roupenian
  6. ‘Christmas Gift’ by Robert Penn Warren
  7. ‘Snow Angel’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  8. ‘The Last Night Of The World’ by Ray Bradbury
  9. ‘Uncle Raymond’ by Nelson Eubanks
  10. ‘Christmas Freud’ by David Rakoff
  11. ‘The Sunday After Christmas’ by Mavis Gallant
  12. ‘Where You’ll Find Me’ by Ann Beattie
  13. ‘Through The Tunnel’ by Doris Lessing
  14. ‘The Angel Of The Bridge’ by John Cheever
  15. ‘Nobody’s Story’ by Charles Dickens
  16. ‘A Different Kind Of Imperfection’ by Thomas Beller
  17. ‘Christmas By Injunction’ by O. Henry
  18. ‘The Errors Of Santa Claus’ by Stephen Leacock
  19. ‘The Feast Of Nemesis’ by Saki

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

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March 2016 favorites

March2016

March 2016

The March stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Dog Heaven’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  2. ‘A Country Doctor’ by Franz Kafka
  3. ‘The Judgment’ by Franz Kafka
  4. ‘Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning’ by Donald Barthelme
  5. ‘The Hunger Artist’ by Franz Kafka
  6. ‘Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor’ by Franz Kafka
  7. ‘Herself In Love’ by Marianne Wiggins
  8. ‘Gorilla, My Love’ by Toni Cade Bambara
  9. ‘Her Son’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  10. ‘Niagara’ by Mark Twain
  11. ‘I Stand Here Ironing’ by Tillie Olsen
  12. ‘Dance In America’ by Lorrie Moore
  13. ‘The Working Girl’ by Ann Beattie
  14. ‘The World Of Apples’ by John Cheever
  15. ‘This Is A Story About My Friend George, The Toy Inventor’ by Grace Paley
  16. ‘A Little Woman’ by Franz Kafka

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

July 2015 favorites

July2015

July 2015

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Wash’ by William Faulkner
  2. ‘A Rose For Emily’ by William Faulkner
  3. ‘The Beauties’ by Anton Chekhov
  4. ‘The Kiss’ by Anton Chekhov
  5. ‘The Bishop’ by Anton Chekhov
  6. ‘Revelation’ by Flannery O’Connor
  7. ‘The Darling’ by Anton Chekhov
  8. ‘What You Pawn I Will Redeem’ by Sherman Alexie
  9. ‘Shingles For The Lord’ by William Faulkner
  10. ‘The Only Traffic Signal On The Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore’ by Sherman Alexie
  11. ‘Health Card’ by Frank Yerby
  12. ‘The Huntsman’ by Anton Chekhov
  13. ‘The Artificial N—–‘ by Flannery O’Connor
  14. ‘Referential’ by Lorrie Moore
  15. ‘The Angel In The Alcove’ by Tennessee Williams
  16. ‘Because My Father Always Said He Was The Only Indian Who Saw Jim Hendrix Play The Star-Spangled Banner At Woodstock’ by Sherman Alexie
  17. ‘Shall Not Perish’ by William Faulkner
  18. ‘Death Drag’ by William Faulkner
  19. ‘Weekend’ by Ann Beattie
  20. ‘This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona’ by Sherman Alexie
  21. ‘Amusements’ by Sherman Alexie
  22. ‘Northerners Can Be So Smug’ by Alice Childress
  23. ‘The Case Of Four And Twenty Blackbirds’ by Neil Gaiman

 

May 2015 favorites

May2015

May 2015

The May stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Medal From Jerusalem’ by Irwin Shaw
  2. ‘A Silver Dish’ by Saul Bellow
  3. ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway
  4. ‘One Off The Short List’ by Doris Lessing
  5. ‘Neighbors’ by Diane Oliver
  6. ‘Drenched In Light’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  7. ‘The Snows Of Kilimanjaro’ by Ernest Hemingway
  8. ‘Eli, The Fanatic’ by Philip Roth
  9. ‘The Gift Of The Prodigal’ by Peter Taylor
  10. ‘Che Ti Dice La Patria?’ by Ernest Hemingway
  11. ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway
  12. ‘The New Order’ by Nancy Hale
  13. ‘Three Million Yen’ by Yukio Mishima
  14. ‘The Supper’ by Tadeusz Borowski
  15. ‘The Interior Castle’ by Jean Stafford
  16. ‘How I Contemplated The World From The Detroit House Of Correction And Began My Life Over Again’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  17. ‘A Simple Enquiry’ by Ernest Hemingway
  18. ‘Janus’ by Ann Beattie
  19. ‘Family Portrait’ by Sherman Alexie
  20. ‘Champion’ by Ring Lardner
  21. ‘The End Of The World’ by Dino Buzzati

July 2014 favorites

july2014

July 2014

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

1.       ‘Hot Ice’ by Stuart Dybek
2.       ‘The Babysitter’ by Robert Coover
3.       ‘Jeeves And The Impending Doom’ by P.G. Wodehouse
4.       ‘A Solo Song: For Doc’ by James Alan McPherson
5.       ‘City Boy’ by Leonard Michaels
6.       ‘You’re Ugly, Too’ by Lorrie Moore
7.       ‘The Flats Road’ by Alice Munro
8.       ‘Greasy Lake’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
9.       ‘Train’ by Joy Williams
10.     ‘Testimony Of Pilot’ by Barry Hannah
11.     ‘The Joy Luck Club’ by Amy Tan
12.    ‘Liars In Love’ by Richard Yates
13.     ‘How To Date A Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, Or Halfie)’ by Junot Diaz
14.    ‘A Poetics For Bullies’ by Stanley Elkin
15.     ‘Greenwich Time’ by Ann Beattie
16.     ‘Pretty Ice’ by Mary Robison
17.     ‘Lechery’ by Jayne Anne Phillips
18.     ‘Here Come The Maples’ by John Updike
19.     ‘Territory’ by David Leavitt
20.     ‘Bridging’ by Max Apple
21.     ‘The Circling Hand’ by Jamaica Kincaid
22.     ‘Are These Actual Miles?’ by Raymond Carver
23.     ‘The Other Wife’ by Colette
24.     ‘A.V. Laider’ by Max Beerbohm
25.     ‘White Rat’ by Gayl Jones
26.     ‘Search Through The Streets Of The City’ by Irwin Shaw
27.     ‘The Dead Man’ by Horacio Quiroga
28.     ‘A Life In The Day Of A Writer’ by Tess Slesinger
29.     ‘In The Heart Of The Heart Of The Country’ by William Gass
30.     ‘The Indian Uprising’ by Donald Barthelme
31.     ‘The Facts Of Life’ by Somerset Maugham

‘Greenwich Time’ by Ann Beattie

Beattie, Ann 1978

Greenwich Time by Ann Beattie, 1979

The magic trick:

Switching to the present tense and passive voice when the action shifts to Greenwich

Tom is lost in the past as he grapples with an uncertain future. Greenwich, Conn., home of his ex-wife and son, represents that no-man’s land in a physical sense. And so Beattie does something very cool with the narrative voice in the story.

The portions early in the story set in New York City are written in the past tense, as are the passages that detail Tom’s memories of his marriage and former life. These sections of the story carry with them a tremendous sense of authority. The sentences are written as fact.

When Tom arrives in Greenwich, however, Beattie switches voices entirely. She presents the action in a present tense, creating a much more tenuous feel than the previous sections. All authority is gone. In its stead, we get a feeling that we’re not quite sure where this is going. Beattie also employs the passive voice for many of these sentences. It meshes perfectly with Tom’s place in this world. It’s as if he isn’t even an active participant. Things happen to him; he isn’t in control. He has no idea what is coming next. The only authority he has is in thinking about his past. The shift in writing styles mirrors his agony. And that’s quite a trick on Beattie’s part.

The selection:

Tom reads the newspaper from the market. It comes out once a week. There are articles about deer leaping across the road, lady artists who do batik who will give demonstrations at the library. He hears Ben running up the stairs, chased by Inez.

Water is turned on. He hears Ben laughing above the water. It makes him happy that Ben is so well adjusted…