January 2019 favorites

January 2019

The January stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Beginning Of A Long Story’ by Maeve Brennan
  2. ‘The Point’ by Charles D’Ambrosio
  3. ‘Guests Of The Nation’ by Frank O’Connor
  4. ‘Voices’ by Alice Munro
  5. ‘Dear Life’ by Alice Munro
  6. ‘The Enduring Chill’ by Flannery O’Connor
  7. ‘The Eye’ by Alice Munro
  8. ‘Armistice’ by Bernard Malamud
  9. ‘O Youth And Beauty’ by John Cheever
  10. ‘Real Estate’ by Lorrie Moore
  11. ‘Night’ by Alice Munro
  12. ‘The Trouble With Mrs. Blynn, The Trouble With The World’ by Patricia Highsmith
  13. ‘The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen’ by Graham Greene
  14. ‘The Slaves In New York’ by Tama Janowitz
  15. ‘Batman And Robin Have An Altercation’ by Stephen King
  16. ‘Tied In A Bow’ by Langston Hughes
  17. ‘The Stranger’ by Rainer Maria Rilke

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

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May 2018 favorites

May 2018

The May stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Man Of The World’ by Frank O’Connor
  2. ‘Irish Revel’ by Edna O’Brien
  3. ‘Sister Imelda’ by Edna O’Brien
  4. ‘Summer Voices’ by John Banville
  5. ‘Villa Marta’ by Clare Boylan
  6. ‘Innocence’ by Sean O’Faolain
  7. ‘The Widow’ by Edna O’Brien
  8. ‘A Rose In The Heart Of New York’ by Edna O’Brien
  9. ‘An Attack Of Hunger’ by Maeve Brennan
  10. ‘The Road To The Shore’ by Michael McLaverty
  11. ‘Bullfighting’ by Roddy Doyle
  12. ‘Deer Season’ by Kevin Barry
  13. ‘Nightfall’ by Daniel Corkery
  14. ‘Brother’ by Edna O’Brien
  15. ‘Solstice’ by Anne Enright
  16. ‘Anhedonia, Here I Come’ by Colin Barrett

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.

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

‘Christmas Eve’ by Maeve Brennan

Brennan, Maeve 1972

Christmas Eve by Maeve Brennan, 1972

The magic trick:

Using the hallway of the family home as literary device

This is a simple little story, a snapshot really. Brennan checks in on the Bagot family – regular cast members in her work – at Christmas time. Nothing much happens, but the story manages to resonate, particularly her use of the family home’s hallway.

The hallway stands in as many things. It physically separates the husband and wife, the father from the family. It also acts as a kind of reminder that Christmas time can return worn-down, tired adults to the joy and innocence of childhood, if even for one night. The hallway, too, Brennan writes, is a means by which the house can be seen by visitors. Visitors like the reader, or even Brennan’s narrator.

That’s like three literary devices for the price of one! And that’s quite a trick on Brennan’s part.

The selection:

The hall was quite narrow, and was covered with linoleum, and it served its purpose very well, both as an entrance to the house and as a vantage point from which the house could be viewed and seen for what it was – a small, plain, family place that had a compartmented look now in winter because of all the doors being closed to keep whatever heat there was inside the rooms. In the hall there was a rack with hooks on it for coats, and there was an umbrella stand, and a chair nobody ever sat on. Nobody ever sat on the chair and nobody ever stood long in the hall. It was a passageway – not to fame and not to fortune but only to the common practices of family life, those practices, habits, and ordinary customs that are the only true realities most of us ever know, and that in some of us form a memory strong enough to give us something to hold on to to the end of our days.