June 2018 favorites

June 2018

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Bartleby, The Scrivener’ by Herman Melville
  2. ‘God Sees The Truth, But Waits’ by Leo Tolstoy
  3. ‘The Ingrate’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  4. ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’ by Frank Stockton
  5. ‘Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  6. ‘The Three Hermits’ by Leo Tolstoy
  7. ‘Jupiter Doke, Brigadier General’ by Ambrose Bierce
  8. ‘One Wicked Impulse!’ by Walt Whitman
  9. ‘Wisdom Of Children’ by Leo Tolstoy
  10. ‘The Angel Of The Odd’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  11. ‘The Sire de Maletroit’s Door’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. ‘The Two Brothers And The Gold’ by Leo Tolstoy
  13. ‘The Dream Of A Ridiculous Man’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. ‘The Prize Lodger’ by George Gissing
  15. ‘The Coffee-House Of Surat’ by Leo Tolstoy

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.


December 2014 favorites


December 2014

The December stories organized solely by my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Jeeves And The Yule-Tide Spirit’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  2. ‘The H Street Sledding Record’ by Ron Carlson
  3. ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote
  4. ‘A Christmas Tree And A Wedding’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  5. ‘The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. ‘Christmas At Red Butte’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  7. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Maeve Brennan
  8. ‘One Christmas Eve’ by Langston Hughes
  9. ‘The Gift Of The Magi’ by O. Henry
  10. ‘Powder’ by Tobias Wolff
  11. ‘The Ledge’ by Lawrence Sargent Hall
  12. ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ by Dylan Thomas
  13. ‘The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding’ by Agatha Christie
  14. ‘The Christmas Wreck’ by Frank Stockton
  15. ‘At Christmas Time’ by Anton Chekhov
  16. ‘Christmas Day In The Morning’ by Pearl S. Buck
  17. ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Andersen
  18. ‘Markheim’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  19. ‘Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor’ by John Cheever
  20. ‘The Burglar’s Christmas’ by Willa Cather
  21. ‘Papa Panov’s Special Christmas’ by Leo Tolstoy
  22. ‘The Beggar Boy At Christ’s Christmas Tree’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  23. ‘A New Year’s Gift’ by Guy de Maupassant
  24. ‘The Christmas Banquet’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  25. ‘The Best Christmas Ever’ by James Patrick Kelly
  26. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Guy de Maupassant

‘The Christmas Wreck’ by Frank Stockton

Stockton, Frank 1886

The Christmas Wreck by Frank Stockton, 1886

The magic trick:

Rewarding the characters for making a decision based on sentimentality

“The Christmas Wreck” is a pleasant contrast to such survival dramas on the sea such as Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” or recent SSMT holiday tragedy, “The Ledge.”

The three surviving crew members certainly are in peril when a typhoon wrecks their ship, but it’s a nice twist on the survival story to see Silas and Andy act out of the sentimental desire for some semblance of a traditional Christmas dinner. Of course, it winds up leading to their successful survival, too, whereas in many such stories the characters go by the book and wind up perishing anyway.

Stockton might be sacrificing some of the gritty realism of, say, Jack London, but he more than makes up for it in feel-good holiday charm. And that’s quite a trick on Stockton’s part.

The selection:

“Well, sir, there was three loads brought in altogether, an’ the Christmas dinner we had on the for’ard deck of that steamer’s hull was about the jolliest one that was ever seen of a hot day aboard of a wreck in the Pacific Ocean. The cap’n kept good order, an’ when all was ready the tops was jerked off the boxes, and each man grabbed a can an’ opened it with his knife. When he had cleaned it out, he tuk another without doin’ much questionin’ as to the bill of fare. Whether anybody got pidjin-pie ‘cept Andy, I can’t say, but the way we piled in Delmoniker prog would ‘a’ made people open their eyes as was eatin’ their Christmas dinners on shore that day. Some of the things would ‘a’ been better cooked a little more, or het up, but we was too fearful hungry to wait fur that, an’ they was tiptop as they was.