November 2015 favorites

November2015

November 2015

The November stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘A Conversation With My Father’ by Grace Paley
  2. ‘The Warm Fuzzies’ by Chris Adrian
  3. ‘Kid MacArthur’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  4. ‘Kneel To The Rising Sun’ by Erskine Caldwell
  5. ‘Over The River And Through The Wood’ by John O’Hara
  6. ‘We’re On TV In The Universe’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  7. ‘Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  8. ‘I Bought A Little City’ by Donald Barthelme
  9. ‘Sweet Talk’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  10. ‘Yao’s Chick’ by Max Apple
  11. ‘The Battle Of Fallen Timbers’ by Stephanie Vaughn
  12. ‘Collectors’ by Daniel Alarcon
  13. ‘The Great Mountains’ by John Steinbeck
  14. ‘Last Day In The Field’ by Caroline Gordon
  15. ‘Ann Mary; Her Two Thanksgivings’ by Mary Wilkins Freeman
  16. ‘Business Talk’ by Max Apple
  17. ‘Theft’ by Katherine Anne Porter
  18. ‘Zelig’ by Benjamin Rosenblatt
  19. ‘Brothers And Sisters Around The World’ by Andrea Lee
  20. ‘The Kitchen Baby’ by Angela Carter
  21. ‘The Best Girlfriend You Never Had’ by Pam Houston
  22. ‘Cinnamon’ by Neil Gaiman

August 2014 favorites

august2014

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

‘He’ by Katherine Anne Porter

Porter, Katherine Anne 1927

He by Katherine Anne Porter, 1927

The magic trick:

Letting the full emotional weight of the story only hit when the He characters perspective is considered

Porter capitalizes “He” and “His” every time He is mentioned throughout the story. (Jesus, anyone?) For all that spotlight, His perspective is never considered until the very end. It’s a remarkable subterfuge by Porter.

Mrs. Whipple certainly thinks she is caring about her son the entire time, but, in fact, her concerns are rooted only in what people will think of her family. She wants to love Him, but mainly because she wants to keep her neighbors from ever saying that she didn’t love Him. The neighbors, meanwhile, are just as judgmental as she fears and offer no help to the family.

I won’t ruin it here for those who haven’t read the story, but sufficed to say, Mrs. Whipple faces her guilt in the end, as do the neighbors. She finally considers (is forced to recognize) His point of view for the first time, and the revelations are heartbreaking. I dare say even the hardest of the hard out there, those who equate sentimentality with crimes against the state, will be reaching for the tissue box. And that’s quite a trick on Porter’s part.

The selection:

“It’s the neighbors,” said Mrs. Whipple to her husband. “Oh, I do mortally wish they would keep out of our business. I can’t afford to let Him do anything for fear they’ll come nosing around about it. Look at the bees, now. Adna can’t handle them, they sting him up so; I haven’t got time to do everything, and now I don’t dare let Him. But if He gets a string He don’t really mind.”

“It’s just because He ain’t got sense enough to be scared of anything,” said Mr. Whipple.

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