March 2022 favorites

March 2022

The March stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Foaling Season’ by Aryn Kyle
  2. ‘Something That Needs Nothing’ by Miranda July
  3. ‘The Mountain Day’ by Jean Stafford
  4. ‘Blackie’ by Elizabeth Spencer
  5. ‘Tiny In The Wilderness’ by Tom Drury
  6. ‘Mrs. Box’ by Michael Chabon
  7. ‘Small Avalanches’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  8. ‘My Kinsman, Major Molineaux’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  9. ‘Jacklighting’ by Ann Beattie
  10. ‘The Prospectors’ by Karen Russell
  11. ‘A Wagner Matinée’ by Willa Cather
  12. ‘Nest Egg’ by Jesse Stuart
  13. ‘On The Oregon Trail’ by Caitlin Horrocks
  14. ‘The Sentimentality Of William Tavener’ by Willa Cather
  15. ‘Snakebite’ by Arthur Bradford
  16. ‘Impulse’ by Conrad Aiken
  17. ‘Residents And Transients’ by Bobbie Ann Mason
  18. ‘Giving Blood’ by John Updike
  19. ‘Rain On Tanyard Hollow’ by Jesse Stuart

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

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July 2019 favorites

July 2019

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Ugly Duckling’ by Hans Christian Andersen
  2. ‘Too Early Spring’ by Stephen Vincent Benét
  3. ‘When We Went To See The End Of The World By Dawnie Morningside, Age 11¼’ by Neil Gaiman
  4. ‘The Nightingale And The Rose’ by Oscar Wilde
  5. ‘The Remarkable Rocket’ by Oscar Wilde
  6. ‘The Devoted Friend’ by Oscar Wilde
  7. ‘The Moon Child Of Wolfe Creek’ by Jesse Stuart
  8. ‘The Coming Of The King’ by Laura E. Richards
  9. ‘The Gray Hare’ by Leo Tolstoy
  10. ‘The Selfish Giant’ by Oscar Wilde
  11. ‘The Wish’ by Roald Dahl
  12. ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde
  13. ‘Breaking The Pig’ by Etgar Keret
  14. ‘Lars Farf, Excessively Fearful Father And Husband’ by George Saunders
  15. ‘The Shirt-Collar’ by Hans Christian Andersen
  16. ‘How The Camel Got His Hump’ by Rudyard Kipling
  17. ‘The Mixer II: He Moves In Society’ by P.G. Wodehouse

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.

September 2015 favorites


September 2015

The September stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Doll’s House’ by Katherine Mansfield
  2. ‘Walk In The Moon Shadows’ by Jesse Stuart
  3. ‘The Baby In The Icebox’ by James M. Cain
  4. ‘The Horse Dealer’s Daughter’ by D.H. Lawrence
  5. ‘The Rescue’ by V.S. Pritchett
  6. ‘A Complicated Nature’ by William Trevor
  7. ‘The Standard Of Living’ by Dorothy Parker
  8. ‘Children Of The Sea’ by Edwidge Danticat
  9. ‘The Provincials’ by Daniel Alarcon
  10. ‘Eatonville Anthology’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  11. ‘Birdsong’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  12. ‘The Letter Writers’ by Elizabeth Taylor
  13. ‘The There There’ by Antonya Nelson
  14. ‘Winter In Yalta’ by Antonya Nelson
  15. ‘The Bowl’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. ‘Funny Once’ by Antonya Nelson
  17. ‘Literally’ by Antonya Nelson
  18. ‘Death Constant Beyond Love’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  19. ‘A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud’ by Carson McCullers
  20. ‘The Jungle’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  21. ‘Quality Time’ by Richard Ford
  22. ‘The Gully’ by Russell Banks
  23. ‘Inventing Wampanoag, 1672’ by Ben Shattuck


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

‘Dawn Of Remembered Spring’ by Jesse Stuart

Stuart, Jesse 1942

Dawn Of Remembered Spring by Jesse Stuart, 1943

The magic trick:

Elegant simplicity

Like a Kentucky version of Hemingway, Stuart never instructs or dictates. He lays back and lets the story do the talking. This story is an elegant bit of simplicity.

A young boy reacts to the snakebite death of a local boy by attempting to kill every water moccasin he can find. And he does a pretty good job at it. Especially powerful is the way Stuart has the narrator boy reference his own memories of his parents each killing snakes in the past. Their actions inform and justify his actions. Of course then he is surprised when, having killed 53 snakes, his family and neighbors are far more interested in watching two copperhead snakes mate than look at his snake body count. The boy is still angry, and, notably, he does not demonstrate during the story’s conclusion what, if any, lesson he has learned from this incident.

Stuart isn’t here to explain. He lets the ending rest with the same simplicity he used throughout the story. It’s up to the reader to make his or her own assessments, just as it’s presumably up to the narrator to glean his own lessons from the memory of this spring. And that’s quite a trick on Stuart’s part.

The selection:

What will Mom think when I tell her I’ve killed fifty-three water moccasins? I thought. A water moccasin bit Roy Deer but one’s not going to bite me. I paid the snakes back for biting him. It was good enough for them. Roy wasn’t bothering the water moccasin that bit him. He was just crossing the creek at the foot-log and it jumped from the grass and bit him.