October 2021 favorites

October 2021

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Suspicion’ by Dorothy Sayers
  2. ‘Bad Dreams’ by Tessa Hadley
  3. ‘Mrs. Charbury At Eltham’ by Max Porter
  4. ‘The Man Who Knew How’ by Dorothy Sayers
  5. ‘The Flight Of Geese’ by Leslie Norris
  6. ‘The Open Window’ by Saki
  7. ‘The Lighthouse’ by Agnes Owens
  8. ‘Pornography’ by Ian McEwan
  9. ‘De Mortuis’ by John Collier
  10. ‘The Fountain Plays’ by Dorothy Sayers
  11. ‘An Arrow O’er The House’ by Dorothy Sayers
  12. ‘Then Later, His Ghost’ by Sarah Hall
  13. ‘When The Door Closed, It Was Dark’ by Alison Moore
  14. ‘Le Miroir’ by Robert Aickman
  15. ‘Dilemma’ by Dorothy Sayers
  16. ‘August Heat’ by W.F. Harvey
  17. ‘The Demon Lover’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  18. ‘The Apparition Of Mrs. Veal’ by Daniel Defoe
  19. ‘The Mystery Of Hunter’s Lodge’ by Agatha Christie
  20. ‘A Haunted House’ by Virginia Woolf
  21. ‘The Crystal Egg’ by H.G. Wells
  22. ‘The Lamp’ by Agatha Christie
  23. ‘Click-Clack The Rattlebag’ by Neil Gaiman

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

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January 2021 favorites

January 2021

The January stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Love Object’ by Edna O’Brien
  2. ‘Dandelion’ by Lore Segal
  3. ‘The Headstrong Historian’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. ‘The Black Monk’ by Anton Chekhov
  5. ‘Her Table Spread’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  6. ‘Cloud, Castle, Lake’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  7. ‘Modern Girls’ by Teju Cole
  8. ‘The Bound Man’ by Ilse Aichinger
  9. ‘The Married Couple’ by Franz Kafka
  10. ‘Everything’ by Ingeborg Bachmann
  11. ‘The Sacrificial Egg’ by Chinua Achebe
  12. ‘Phantoms’ by Ivan Turgenev
  13. ‘In The Shadow Of War’ by Ben Okri
  14. ‘The Hawk’ by Liam O’Flaherty
  15. ‘Work, Death, And Sickness’ by Leo Tolstoy
  16. ‘The Hotel’ by Anne Enright
  17. ‘Aspic’ by Tatyana Tolstaya

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

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

September 2015 favorites


September 2015

The September stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Doll’s House’ by Katherine Mansfield
  2. ‘Walk In The Moon Shadows’ by Jesse Stuart
  3. ‘The Baby In The Icebox’ by James M. Cain
  4. ‘The Horse Dealer’s Daughter’ by D.H. Lawrence
  5. ‘The Rescue’ by V.S. Pritchett
  6. ‘A Complicated Nature’ by William Trevor
  7. ‘The Standard Of Living’ by Dorothy Parker
  8. ‘Children Of The Sea’ by Edwidge Danticat
  9. ‘The Provincials’ by Daniel Alarcon
  10. ‘Eatonville Anthology’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  11. ‘Birdsong’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  12. ‘The Letter Writers’ by Elizabeth Taylor
  13. ‘The There There’ by Antonya Nelson
  14. ‘Winter In Yalta’ by Antonya Nelson
  15. ‘The Bowl’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. ‘Funny Once’ by Antonya Nelson
  17. ‘Literally’ by Antonya Nelson
  18. ‘Death Constant Beyond Love’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  19. ‘A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud’ by Carson McCullers
  20. ‘The Jungle’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  21. ‘Quality Time’ by Richard Ford
  22. ‘The Gully’ by Russell Banks
  23. ‘Inventing Wampanoag, 1672’ by Ben Shattuck


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

‘The Mysterious Kor’ by Elizabeth Bowen

NPG x3057; Elizabeth Bowen by Howard Coster

The Mysterious Kor by Elizabeth Bowen, 1942

The magic trick:

Showing two womens desire for an imaginary happiness

Early in the story, Pepita talks to Arthur about her dreams of mysterious Kor, the forsaken city of a poem she quotes. I thought, “Oh, OK, this is nice. Very romantic. During wartime, a nice escape dream for a young couple.” I figured that was the crux of the story. And in some ways I was right. But little did I know that Bowen was about to double down on the Kor metaphor.

Callie, too, – Pepita’s virginal roommate – lives in her own version of the Kor dream. She filters her fears and lusts through Pepita and Arthur’s relationship, escaping life vicariously through them.

As a result, what began seemingly as a war-torn romance story becomes a very dark, misty, somber, resonant story about an entire generation, an entire country, caught in the tragedy of war. And that’s quite a trick on Bowen’s part.

The selection:

“Don’t be cross about Kor; please don’t, Arthur,” she said.

“I thought girls thought about people.”

“What, these days?” she said. “Think about people? How can anyone think about people if they’ve got any heart? I don’t know how other girls manage: I always think about Kor.”

“Not about me?” he said. When she did not at once answer, he turned her hand over, in anguish, inside his grasp. “Because I’m not there when you want me – is that my fault?”

“But to think about Kor is to think about you and me.”

“In that dead place?”

“No, ours – we’d be alone here.”