December 2018 favorites

December 2018

The December stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Unlighted Lamps’ by Sherwood Anderson
  2. ‘The Doll’ by Edna O’Brien
  3. ‘Flowers For Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes
  4. ‘Homecoming’ by William Maxwell
  5. ‘Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie’ by Beryl Bainbridge
  6. ‘The Christmas Miracle’ by Rebecca Curtis
  7. ‘Christmas Longings’ by Elizabeth Spencer
  8. ‘The Enchanted Bluff’ by Willa Cather
  9. ‘New York Mining Disaster’ by Haruki Murakami
  10. ‘Christmas Song’ by Langston Hughes
  11. ‘Present For Joyce’ by Langston Hughes
  12. ‘Lost In The City’ by Edward P. Jones
  13. ‘The Cat’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  14. ‘Leg’ by Stephen Polansky
  15. ‘The Cold Outside’ by John Burnside
  16. ‘Stuff’ by Joy Williams
  17. ‘Horatio’s Trick’ by Ann Beattie
  18. ‘The Night Of Chancellorsville’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  19. ‘Home For Christmas’ by Jeffrey Shaffer

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 2016 favorites

december2016

December 2016

The December stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Final Problem’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. ‘A Worn Path’ by Eudora Welty
  3. ‘Domestic Life In America’ by John Updike
  4. ‘O Tannenbaum’ by Maile Meloy
  5. ‘Ben’ by Kay Boyle
  6. ‘The Poor Relation’s Story’ by Charles Dickens
  7. ‘The Christmas Masquerade’ by Mary Wilkins Freeman
  8. ‘The Centerpiece’ by Peter Matthiessen
  9. ‘Merry Christmas’ by Stephen Leacock
  10. ‘Bertie’s Christmas Eve’ by Saki
  11. ‘Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desire’ by Michael Tournier
  12. ‘The Christmas Story’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  13. ‘Christmas; Or, The Good Fairy’ by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  14. ‘Grandmother’s Christmas Story’ by Faith Wynne
  15. ‘The World In A Bowl Of Soup: A Christmas Story” by Annie Dillard

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.

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

October 2014 favorites

october2014

October 2014

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ by Flannery O’Connor
  2. ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ by Flannery O’Connor
  3. ‘The River’ by Flannery O’Connor
  4. ‘A&P’ by John Updike
  5. ‘The Life You Save May Be Your Own’ by Flannery O’Connor
  6. ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman
  7. ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  8. ‘Nilda’ by Junot Diaz
  9. ‘Young Goodman Brown’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  10. ‘The Lady’s Maid’s Bell’ by Edith Wharton
  11. ‘Luella Miller’ by Mary Wilkins Freeman
  12. ‘The Outcasts Of Poker Flat’ by Bret Harte
  13. ‘The Sutton Place Story’ by John Cheever
  14. ‘Premium Harmony’ by Stephen King
  15. ‘Paper Losses’ by Lorrie Moore
  16. ‘This Morning, This Evening, So Soon’ by James Baldwin
  17. ‘Three Players Of A Summer Game’ by Tennessee Williams
  18. ‘A Stroke Of Good Fortune’ by Flannery O’Connor
  19. ‘The Body Snatcher’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. ‘Awake’ by Tobias Wolff
  21. ‘In Greenwich, There Are Many Gravelled Walks’ by Hortense Calisher
  22. ‘A Dark Brown Dog’ by Stephen Crane
  23. ‘Nothing Ever Breaks Except The Heart’ by Kay Boyle

‘Luella Miller’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

Freeman, Mary Wilkins 1902

Luella Miller by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, 1902

The magic trick:

Putting the bulk of the story through the frame of Lydia Andersons retelling

I’m embarrassed to admit I can’t quite work out why Freeman frames this story through the memories of Luella Miler’s neighbor, Lydia Anderson. The story is told by a third-person narrator but relies for the bulk of the plot on stories Lydia Anderson told the town about Luella. I suppose this allows a more intimate appraisal of the character and the story from the town’s perspective?

Maybe, too, it allows the reader to question some of the story’s validity. Notably, Freeman mentions on more than one occasion that, long ago, Erastus Miller had married Luella instead of Lydia. Perhaps that ache is what drivies the dark biography of Luella’s life that Lydia tells. Maybe Lydia, and not Luella, is the evil, tragic figure of the story.

As I said, I’m not sure. I can’t quite figure it out. But I know I like the framing device. I like the layer it brings to the story. And that’s quite a trick on Freeman’s part.

The selection:

“I found her all dressed up in blue muslin with white polka dots on it, and her hair curled jest as pretty, and there wa’n’t a young girl in the place could compare with her. There was somethin’ about Luella Miller seemed to draw the heart right out of you, but she didn’t draw it out of me.

READ THIS STORY ONLINE