April 2022 favorites

April 2022

The April stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Roses, Rhododendron’ by Alice Adams
  2. ‘Warm River’ by Erskine Caldwell
  3. ‘What Have You Done?’ by Ben Marcus
  4. ‘A Story In Almost Classical Mode’ by Harold Brodkey
  5. ‘Back Then’ by Mary Grimm
  6. ‘Waugh’ by Bryan Washington
  7. ‘Car Crash While Hitchhiking’ by Denis Johnson
  8. ‘Thrift Store Coats’ by Brooks Rexroat
  9. ‘The Bride Comes To Yellow Sky’ by Stephen Crane
  10. ‘Maggie Of The Green Bottles’ by Toni Cade Bambara
  11. ‘The Landlord’ by Wells Tower
  12. ‘Heathen’ by Mike Wilson
  13. ‘Donna’ by Michaella Thornton
  14. ‘The Princess And The Puma’ by O. Henry
  15. ‘The Day The Dam Broke’ by James Thurber
  16. ‘The Texas Principessa’ by William Goyen

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

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April 2016 favorites

April2016

April 2016

The April stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Garden Of The Forking Paths’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  2. ‘Walker Brothers Cowboy’ by Alice Munro
  3. ‘Red Dress – 1946’ by Alice Munro
  4. ‘The Bear Came Over The Mountain’ by Alice Munro
  5. ‘The Gospel According To Mark’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  6. ‘The Office’ by Alice Munro
  7. ‘You Could Look It Up’ by James Thurber
  8. ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro
  9. ‘Ambush’ by Donna Tartt
  10. ‘Sanity’ by Tobias Wolff
  11. ‘Edison, New Jersey’ by Junot Diaz
  12. ‘The Library Of Babel’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  13. ‘The Approach To Al-Mu’tasim’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  14. ‘Late’ by Steven Millhauser
  15. ‘Serve-And-Volley Near Vichy’ by Greg Jackson
  16. ‘On Exactitude In Science’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  17. ‘Do Stay, Giraffe’ by Wolfgang Borchert

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

December 2015 favorites

December2015

December 2015

The December stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Christmas Morning’ by Frank O’Connor
  2. ‘Drawing Names’ by Bobbie Ann Mason
  3. ‘The Frozen Fields’ by Paul Bowles
  4. ‘Tenth Of December’ by George Saunders
  5. ‘Christmas’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  6. ‘The Birds For Christmas’ by Mark Richard
  7. ‘Every Little Hurricane’ by Sherman Alexie
  8. ‘An Old-Time Christmas’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  9. ‘Two Of A Kind’ by Sean O’Faolain
  10. ‘Christmas For Sassafrass, Cypress And Indigo’ by Ntozake Shange
  11. ‘Family Christmas’ by Roxana Robinson
  12. ‘A Visit From Saint Nicholas (In The Ernest Hemingway Manner)’ by James Thurber
  13. ‘Creche’ by Richard Ford
  14. ‘The Christmas Tree’ by Charles Dickens
  15. ‘A Kidnapped Santa Claus’ by L. Frank Baum
  16. ‘Xmas’ by Thomas M. Disch
  17. ‘Christmas Every Day’ by William Dean Howells
  18. ‘Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story’ by Paul Auster
  19. ‘Falalalalalalalala’ by Nikki Giovanni
  20. ‘Old Christmas’ by Stephen Merion

‘A Visit From Saint Nicholas (In The Ernest Hemingway Manner)’ by James Thurber

Thurber, James 1927

A Visit From Saint Nicholas (In The Ernest Hemingway Manner) by James Thurber, 1927 Continue reading

August 2015 favorites

August2015

August 2015

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Reunion’ by John Cheever
  2. ‘The Crime Wave At Blandings’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  3. ‘Love’ by William Maxwell
  4. ‘The Bridal Party’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. ‘The Manhunt’ by Daniel Curley
  6. ‘Jeeves And The Song Of Songs’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  7. ‘Chapter Two’ by Antonya Nelson
  8. ‘Marjorie Daw’ by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  9. ‘Nikishka’s Secrets’ by Yury Kazakov
  10. ‘The Pelican’s Shadow’ by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  11. ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  12. ‘Blowing Shades’ by Stuart Dybek
  13. ‘Roy Spivey’ by Miranda July
  14. ‘Leave It To Jeeves’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  15. ‘Aunt Agatha Takes The Count’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  16. ‘Liquor Makes You Smart’ by Anita Loos
  17. ‘When The Light Gets Green’ by Robert Penn Warren
  18. ‘The Dead Fiddler’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  19. ‘La Belle Zoraide’ by Kate Chopin
  20. ‘The Unicorn In The Garden’ by James Thurber
  21. ‘Reeling For The Empire’ by Karen Russell

November 2014 favorites

november2014

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 Catbird Seat’ by James Thurber

Thurber, James 1943

The Catbird Seat by James Thurber, 1942

The magic trick:

The phrases used by Ulgine Barrows

We’ve got another brilliantly written, hopelessly mean-spirited, piece from Thurber. (See also: “A Couple Hamburgers,” or “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.”) I’m afraid I don’t find the actual story particularly funny, even as I know “The Catbird Seat” ranks among his most famous pieces. I do, however, love the phrases Ulgine Barrows uses around the office. If you have worked in an office then you’ve almost certainly encountered a co-worker who spews out the same tired catch phrases over and over and over. Here, Mrs. Barrows uses some particularly ridiculous (and annoying) (and hilarious) phrases. And that’s quite a trick on Thurber’s part.

The selection:

In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was consistently shouting these silly questions at him. “Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are sitting in the catbird seat?”

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