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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March 2017 favorites


March 2017

The March stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Ibn-Hakam al-Bokhari, Murdered In His Labyrinth’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  2. ‘How To Tell Stories To Children’ by Miranda July
  3. ‘Action Will Be Taken’ by Heinrich Boll
  4. ‘The Two Kings And The Two Labyrinths’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  5. ‘The Aleph’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  6. ‘A Late Encounter With The Enemy’ by Flannery O’Connor
  7. ‘The Paperhanger’ by William Gay
  8. ‘Where The Door Is Always Open And The Welcome Mat Is Out’ by Patricia Highsmith
  9. ‘How To Talk To Girls At Parties’ by Neil Gaiman
  10. ‘A Subject Of Childhood’ by Grace Paley
  11. ‘Revenge Of The Lawn’ by Richard Brautigan
  12. ‘The Man On The Threshold’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  13. ‘The Wait’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  14. ‘Good People’ by David Foster Wallace
  15. ‘Regret’ by Kate Chopin

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.

August 2015 favorites


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


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 Story Of An Hour’ by Kate Chopin

Chopin, Kate 1894

The Story Of An Hour by Kate Chopin, 1894

The magic trick:

Using a twist ending to make a point not just for dramatic effect

The matter of a “twist” ending can be suspect when it comes to earning whatever passes for artistic merit. Sure, it’s shocking to turn a story on its head in the final paragraph; to drop the viewers jaw in the final minute of a movie. But it also reeks of gimmick, while rendering repeat readings/viewings unnecessary (you can only be shocked once).

Personally? I like ’em. I think it’s pretty cool. No, I haven’t watched The Sixth Sense a second time, but that’s because I think it’s a pretty stupid movie. The ending was the one part that was interesting. Do I read O. Henry stories over and over even though I know the super-contrived “twist” ending is coming from a mile away? Yes, actually. I like them. I know some people can’t stomach that kind of thing, but that’s just not where I’m coming from.

In the case of “The Story Of An Hour,” every reader wins, whether fan or hater of the “twist” ending. Chopin uses a major twist, for sure. Without spoiling anything, we can at least say the story reverses course quite dramatically at the end. So the shock seekers will enjoy that. But the more literary-minded among us also have plenty to analyze because the twist allows Chopin to make a serious feminist point about woman’s role in marriage during the late 19th century.

Consider this the feminist O. Henry story. And that’s quite a trick on Chopin’s part.

The selection:

There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.