February 2018 favorites

February 2018

The February stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx
  2. ‘Daisy’s Valentine’ by Mary Gaitskill
  3. ‘Clara’ by Roberto Bolaño
  4. ‘The Wife’ by Jennifer Jordan
  5. ‘Counting Breaths’ by Rosemarie Robotham
  6. ‘Last Night’ by James Salter
  7. ‘Cafeteria’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  8. ‘- And The Moon Be Still As Bright’ by Ray Bradbury
  9. ‘Fedora’ by Kate Chopin
  10. ‘The Lynching Of Jube Benson’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  11. ‘Solo On The Drums’ by Ann Petry
  12. ‘The Stout Gentleman’ by Washington Irving
  13. ‘The Man Who Disliked Cats’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  14. ‘Water Child’ by Edwidge Danticat
  15. ‘The Lost Decade’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. ‘Living’ by Grace Paley
  17. ‘Between The Halves’ by John O’Hara

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

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‘Last Night’ by James Salter

Last Night by James Salter, 2002 Read the rest of this entry »

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

‘American Express’ by James Salter

Salter, James 1988 American Express by James Salter, 1988

The magic trick:

Imparting a memorable idea

Salter is most famous, I gather, for his artfully mannered sentences. That’s nice. I noticed more than a couple here. I wasn’t, however, particularly taken with the story or the characters. It feels very ’80s. What resonated, more than anything, was one particular quote. Frank is extricating himself from a would-be relationship, saying, “Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are just the opposite. When they finally know you they’re ready to leave.” This is a very deep statement. Is it perhaps total condescending bullshit passed off as it is by the story’s lead creep? Perhaps. But it has stuck with me in the weeks since I read the story and left me debating its philosophical merits. And that’s quite a trick on Salter’s part.

The selection:

They lay silently. She was starting at something across the room. She was making him feel uncomfortable. “It wouldn’t work. It’s the attraction of opposites,” he said.

“We’re not opposites.”

“I don’t mean just you and me. Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are just the opposite. When they finally know you they’re ready to leave.”

She got up without saying anything and began gathering her clothes. He watched her dress in silence. There was nothing interesting about it. The funny thing was that he had meant to go on with her.

“I’ll get you a cab,” he said.