December 2014 favorites


December 2014

The December stories organized solely by my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Jeeves And The Yule-Tide Spirit’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  2. ‘The H Street Sledding Record’ by Ron Carlson
  3. ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote
  4. ‘A Christmas Tree And A Wedding’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  5. ‘The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. ‘Christmas At Red Butte’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  7. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Maeve Brennan
  8. ‘One Christmas Eve’ by Langston Hughes
  9. ‘The Gift Of The Magi’ by O. Henry
  10. ‘Powder’ by Tobias Wolff
  11. ‘The Ledge’ by Lawrence Sargent Hall
  12. ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ by Dylan Thomas
  13. ‘The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding’ by Agatha Christie
  14. ‘The Christmas Wreck’ by Frank Stockton
  15. ‘At Christmas Time’ by Anton Chekhov
  16. ‘Christmas Day In The Morning’ by Pearl S. Buck
  17. ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Andersen
  18. ‘Markheim’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  19. ‘Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor’ by John Cheever
  20. ‘The Burglar’s Christmas’ by Willa Cather
  21. ‘Papa Panov’s Special Christmas’ by Leo Tolstoy
  22. ‘The Beggar Boy At Christ’s Christmas Tree’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  23. ‘A New Year’s Gift’ by Guy de Maupassant
  24. ‘The Christmas Banquet’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  25. ‘The Best Christmas Ever’ by James Patrick Kelly
  26. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Guy de Maupassant

‘The Ledge’ by Lawrence Sargent Hall

Hall, Lawrence Sargent 1959

The Ledge by Lawrence Sargent Hall, 1959

The magic trick:

Using extreme moods and traits to create a complex, memorable, and ultimately sympathetic character in the fisherman

In a story of extreme circumstances, the fisherman character is a study in extremes. He can be extraordinarily cocky, selfish, mean, petty, short-tempered, and stubborn. The ledge also shows him to be extraordinarily generous, brave, kind, and human. The story’s high-stakes suspense is enough to warrant reading, but the memorable character of the fisherman and his relationship to his family keeps it kicking around your mind for a long time. And that’s quite a trick on Hall’s part.

The selection:

People thought him a hard man, and gave him the reputation of being all out for himself because he was inclined to brag and be disdainful. If it was true, and his own brother was one of those who strongly felt it was, they lived better than others, and his brother had small right to criticize. There had been times when in her loneliness she had yearned to leave him for another man. But it would have been dangerous. So over the years she had learned to shut her mind to his hard-driving, and take what comfort she might from his unsympathetic competence. Only once or twice, perhaps, had she gone so far as to dwell guiltily on what it would be like to be a widow.