January 2020 favorites

January 2020

The January stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘A Jonquil For Mary Penn’ by Wendell Berry
  2. ‘A Half-Pint Of Old Darling’ by Wendell Berry
  3. ‘Greenleaf’ by Flannery O’Connor
  4. ‘The Woman Who Came At Six O’Clock’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  5. ‘One Of These Days’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  6. ‘Dismemberment’ by Wendell Berry
  7. ‘Eyes Of A Blue Dog’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  8. ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  9. ‘Goodbye, Pops’ by Joe Gores
  10. ‘Mother’ by Grace Paley
  11. ‘Making It Home’ by Wendell Berry
  12. ‘The Fishing-Boat Picture’ by Alan Sillitoe
  13. ‘Fly Away, Breath’ by Wendell Berry
  14. ‘Quiet Please’ by Aimee Bender
  15. ‘Nairobi’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  16. ‘The Last Voyage Of The Ghost Ship’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  17. ‘The Hit Man’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  18. ‘Heart Attack’ by Max Apple

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

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November 2015 favorites


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

July 2014 favorites


July 2014

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

1.       ‘Hot Ice’ by Stuart Dybek
2.       ‘The Babysitter’ by Robert Coover
3.       ‘Jeeves And The Impending Doom’ by P.G. Wodehouse
4.       ‘A Solo Song: For Doc’ by James Alan McPherson
5.       ‘City Boy’ by Leonard Michaels
6.       ‘You’re Ugly, Too’ by Lorrie Moore
7.       ‘The Flats Road’ by Alice Munro
8.       ‘Greasy Lake’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
9.       ‘Train’ by Joy Williams
10.     ‘Testimony Of Pilot’ by Barry Hannah
11.     ‘The Joy Luck Club’ by Amy Tan
12.    ‘Liars In Love’ by Richard Yates
13.     ‘How To Date A Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, Or Halfie)’ by Junot Diaz
14.    ‘A Poetics For Bullies’ by Stanley Elkin
15.     ‘Greenwich Time’ by Ann Beattie
16.     ‘Pretty Ice’ by Mary Robison
17.     ‘Lechery’ by Jayne Anne Phillips
18.     ‘Here Come The Maples’ by John Updike
19.     ‘Territory’ by David Leavitt
20.     ‘Bridging’ by Max Apple
21.     ‘The Circling Hand’ by Jamaica Kincaid
22.     ‘Are These Actual Miles?’ by Raymond Carver
23.     ‘The Other Wife’ by Colette
24.     ‘A.V. Laider’ by Max Beerbohm
25.     ‘White Rat’ by Gayl Jones
26.     ‘Search Through The Streets Of The City’ by Irwin Shaw
27.     ‘The Dead Man’ by Horacio Quiroga
28.     ‘A Life In The Day Of A Writer’ by Tess Slesinger
29.     ‘In The Heart Of The Heart Of The Country’ by William Gass
30.     ‘The Indian Uprising’ by Donald Barthelme
31.     ‘The Facts Of Life’ by Somerset Maugham

‘Bridging’ by Max Apple

Apple, Max 1984

Bridging by Max Apple, 1984

The magic trick:

Using real and contemporary sports references

I understand if you are guffawing loudly right now as you read this post. The magic trick in this story is that Apple mentions Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount? Yeah, yeah, I know. That barely has anything to do with the story Apple is telling. But it means a lot to me, and it’s my blog, so kindly file your complaints at the home page and let’s move on.

I was a kid in 1984. I liked baseball very much. I remember Nolan Ryan on the Houston Astros. I remember Robin Yount and Joaquin Andujar. Those names instantly conjure up a time period for me – a certain feeling – very much tied to the 1980s and the comforts and insecurities of youth. As such, I was able to place this story in a very specific context. Obviously, that doesn’t work for every reader. But for those who do attach meaning to those baseball players and that time period, the names do more to create atmosphere than any author could’ve done with 10 pages of description. And that’s quite a trick on Apple’s part.

The selection:

At the Astrodome, Nolan Ryan is shaving the corners. He’s going through the Giants in order. The radio announcer is not even mentioning that by the sixth the Giants haven’t had a hit. The K’s mount on the scoreboard. Tonight Nolan passes the Big Train and is now the all-time strikeout king. He’s almost as old as I am and he still throws nothing but smoke. His fastball is an aspirin; batters tear their tendons lunging for his curve.