‘Master Eustace’ by Henry James

James, Henry 1871

Master Eustace by Henry James, 1871 Read the rest of this entry »


February 2017 favorites


February 2017

The February stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘We Didn’t’ by Stuart Dybek
  2. ‘Separating’ by John Updike
  3. ‘A Retrieved Reformation’ by O. Henry
  4. ‘Postcard’ by Alice Munro
  5. ‘Aurora’ by Junot Diaz
  6. ‘Ligeia’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. ‘The Altar Of The Dead’ by Henry James
  8. ‘An Ounce Of Cure’ by Alice Munro
  9. ‘The Furnished Room’ by O. Henry
  10. ‘Transients In Arcadia’ by O. Henry
  11. ‘On The Gull’s Road’ by Willa Cather
  12. ‘The Skylight Room’ by O. Henry
  13. ‘How’ by Roxane Gay
  14. ‘Teller’s Ticket’ by Robert Flanagan
  15. ‘It Was Romance’ by Miranda July
  16. ‘The Romance Of A Busy Broker’ by O. Henry

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

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‘The Altar Of The Dead’ by Henry James

James, Henry 1895

The Altar Of The Dead by Henry James, 1895 Read the rest of this entry »

November 2014 favorites


November 2014

The November stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Chickamauga’ by Ambrose Bierce
  2. ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather
  3. ‘The Veldt’ by Ray Bradbury
  4. ‘The Story Of An Hour’ by Kate Chopin
  5. ‘Of This Time, Of That Place’ by Lionel Trilling
  6. ‘The Nose’ by Nikolai Gogol
  7. ‘A White Heron’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
  8. ‘A Circle In The Fire’ by Flannery O’Connor
  9. ‘Going For A Beer’ by Robert Coover
  10. ‘Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen’ by O. Henry
  11. ‘Dawn Of Remembered Spring’ by Jesse Stuart
  12. ‘The Middle Years’ by Henry James
  13. ‘The Catbird Seat’ by James Thurber
  14. ‘The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story’ by Joel Chandler Harris
  15. ‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan
  16. ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  17. ‘An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving’ by Louisa May Alcott
  18. ‘Who Lived And Died Believing’ by Nancy Hale
  19. ‘The Devil And Tom Walker’ by Washington Irving
  20. ‘The Facts Concerning The Recent Carnival Of Crime In Connecticut’ by Mark Twain

‘The Middle Years’ by Henry James

James, Henry 1893

The Middle Years by Henry James, 1893

The magic trick:

Presenting a fascinating, if sad, philosophy about writing and mortality

As per usual with James, it’s dense. As per usual with James, it’s psychological. And as per usual with James, it’s endlessly insightful and thought-provoking. “The Middle Years” focuses on a dying author looking back on his career, wishing for more success, yes, but mostly wishing simply for more time to apply what he has learned.

It reminds me of a funeral for a friend I attended a few years ago. I was so struck by the deceased man’s extensive and varied education, his knowledge. He knew so much and was still learning. It was heartbreaking to think that he had spent his whole life perfecting his knowledge base and now it was over; it was all gone. “The Middle Years” recalls that tragic thread that runs through all of our existences, and does so in the compression of a short story. And that’s quite a trick on James’s part.

The selection:

He had followed literature from the first, but he had taken a lifetime to get abreast of her. Only today at last had he begun to see, so that all he had hitherto shown was a movement without a direction. He had ripened too late and was so clumsily constituted that he had had to teach himself by mistakes.

“I prefer your flowers then to other people’s fruit, and your mistakes to other people’s successes,” said gallant Doctor Hugh. “It’s for your mistakes I admire you.”

“You’re happy – you don’t know,” Dencombe answered.