August 2018 favorites

August 2018

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Comforts Of Home’ by Flannery O’Connor
  2. ‘Petrified Man’ by Eudora Welty
  3. ‘Where Is The Voice Coming From?’ by Eudora Welty
  4. ‘Hair’ by William Faulkner
  5. ‘Dogs Go Wolf’ by Lauren Groff
  6. ‘A Pair Of Silk Stockings’ by Kate Chopin
  7. ‘Lily Daw And The Three Ladies’ by Eudora Welty
  8. ‘Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed’ by Barry Hannah
  9. ‘My Side Of The Matter’ by Truman Capote
  10. ‘The Homecoming’ by Frank Yerby
  11. ‘A Memory’ by Eudora Welty
  12. ‘The Confidence Man’ by George Garrett
  13. ‘A Curtain Of Green’ by Eudora Welty
  14. ‘Wunderkind’ by Carson McCullers
  15. ‘The Man With Two Left Feet’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  16. ‘Porte-Cochere’ by Peter Taylor
  17. ‘A Mother’s Tale’ by James Agee

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

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February 2015 favorites

February2015

February 2015

The February stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Death In The Woods’ by Sherwood Anderson
  2. ‘Cheap In August’ by Graham Greene
  3. ‘Debarking’ by Lorrie Moore
  4. ‘The Juniper Tree’ by Lorrie Moore
  5. ‘Flight’ by John O’Hara
  6. ‘To Build A Fire’ by Jack London
  7. ‘Harvey’s Dream’ by Stephen King
  8. ‘The Keyhole Eye’ by John Stewart Carter
  9. ‘The First Flower’ by Augusta Wallace Lyons
  10. ‘Subject To Search’ by Lorrie Moore
  11. ‘Thank You For Having Me’ by Lorrie Moore
  12. ‘Foes’ by Lorrie Moore
  13. ‘Spring In Fialta’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  14. ‘Talk To The Music’ by Arna Bontemps
  15. ‘The Contest For Aaron Gold’ by Philip Roth
  16. ‘The Old Army Game’ by George Garrett
  17. ‘Alma’ by Junot Diaz
  18. ‘Children Are Bored On Sunday’ by Jean Stafford
  19. ‘A Long Day’s Dying’ by William Eastlake
  20. ‘To The Wilderness I Wander’ by Frank Butler
  21. ‘Mammon And The Archer’ by O. Henry

‘The Old Army Game’ by George Garrett

Garrett, George 1961

The Old Army Game by George Garrett, 1961

The magic trick:

A knowing nod that this story treads on familiar ground

I’m a fan of wrapping art in a layer of self-effacement. There’s something permissive about it. Kind of takes the edge off. Lets the reader know the author isn’t trying to come at them from some all-knowing place. Now that being said, we just did an entire week here at SSMT about Stuart Dybek – a writer whose work is decidedly layered in pretense – and it is his total embrace of artistic sheen that makes him one of my all-time favorites. So I’m not saying that a story must operate with a wink and a nod. I’m just saying it helps.

George Garrett uses a wink and a nod here. His narrator talks about how he will be telling the story as he tells the story. He is very concerned that the reader knows that he understands that some of this might sound like a clichéd army story. It is very disarming. The story, as it develops, of course, goes in surprising directions far away from any clichés, and as it does, the narrator inserts fewer and fewer such comments. The result is akin to a storyteller who begins with some trepidation but gradually gains confidence. And that’s quite a trick on Garrett’s part.

The selection:

How did these various things happen? You’re bound to ask. Didn’t anybody go to the Inspector General, the Chaplain, write a Congressman or Mother? Not to my knowledge. Anyone could have, it’s true, but all were very young and in mortal fear of the man. Who would be the first to go? No one went. And – mirabilis! – nobody cracked up. If anything we got tougher and tougher every day. Gave our souls to God.