June 2018 favorites

June 2018

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Bartleby, The Scrivener’ by Herman Melville
  2. ‘God Sees The Truth, But Waits’ by Leo Tolstoy
  3. ‘The Ingrate’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  4. ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’ by Frank Stockton
  5. ‘Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  6. ‘The Three Hermits’ by Leo Tolstoy
  7. ‘Jupiter Doke, Brigadier General’ by Ambrose Bierce
  8. ‘One Wicked Impulse!’ by Walt Whitman
  9. ‘Wisdom Of Children’ by Leo Tolstoy
  10. ‘The Angel Of The Odd’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  11. ‘The Sire de Maletroit’s Door’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. ‘The Two Brothers And The Gold’ by Leo Tolstoy
  13. ‘The Dream Of A Ridiculous Man’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. ‘The Prize Lodger’ by George Gissing
  15. ‘The Coffee-House Of Surat’ by Leo Tolstoy

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

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August 2017 favorites

August 2017

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ by Haruki Murakami
  2. ‘The Man Of The House’ by Frank O’Connor
  3. ‘Chicxulub’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  4. ‘The Second Bakery Attack’ by Haruki Murakami
  5. ‘The Man On The Stairs’ by Miranda July
  6. ‘First Confession’ by Frank O’Connor
  7. ‘Sault Ste. Marie’ by David Means
  8. ‘Them Old Cowboy Songs’ by Annie Proulx
  9. ‘The Year Of Spaghetti’ by Haruki Murakami
  10. ‘My Oedipus Complex’ by Frank O’Connor
  11. ‘August 25, 1983’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  12. ‘A Piece Of News’ by Eudora Welty
  13. ‘Legal Aid’ by Frank O’Connor
  14. ‘Dabchick’ by Haruki Murakami
  15. ‘Other Factors’ by Mary Gaitskill
  16. ‘Prodigal’ by Laura D. Nichols
  17. ‘The Masculine Principle’ by Frank O’Connor
  18. ‘The Prophetic Pictures’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  19. ‘The Stolen Body’ by H.G. Wells

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.

May 2016 favorites

May2016

May 2016

The May stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Story Of My Dovecote’ by Isaac Babel
  2. ‘The Swimmer’ by John Cheever
  3. ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  4. ‘The Ransom Of Red Chief’ by O. Henry
  5. ‘The Luck Of Roaring Camp’ by Bret Harte
  6. ‘Drummond & Son’ by Charles D’Ambrosio
  7. ‘Thank You Ma’am’ by Langston Hughes
  8. ‘The Duplicity Of Hargraves’ by O. Henry
  9. ‘A Summer’s Reading’ by Bernard Malamud
  10. ‘The Swimmers’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. ‘Prizes’ by Janet Frame
  12. ‘The Student’s Wife’ by Raymond Carver
  13. ‘My Father Sits In The Dark’ by Jerome Weidman
  14. ‘The Cop And The Anthem’ by O. Henry
  15. ‘Tobin’s Palm’ by O. Henry
  16. ‘The Clarion Call’ by O. Henry

What do you think about this list? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

December 2014 favorites

december2014

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 Christmas Banquet’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hawthorne, Nathaniel 1846

The Christmas Banquet by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1846

The magic trick:

Keeping the nature of the successful mans misery a mystery for most of the story

Oh, that Nathaniel Hawthorne. What a chipper, happy guy he must have been. Leave it to Nate to create a Christmas tale based on an annual dinner for the saddest people in all of society. Seriously, did this guy ever lighten up?

Anyway, the story’s concept, if you don’t mind a little holiday misery, is actually pretty brilliant. Hawthorne devotes much of the text to the three lengthy descriptions of the various party guests and their maladies; these sections are sharp and hilarious. The driving force throughout the story is the mystery surrounding Gervayse Hastings’ gloom. He seems to all other invitees to be a happy, well-adjusted, successful man of the world. So why does he keep getting invited to the doom room? The unanswered question keeps the reader reading.

So no, you might never want to invite Hawthorne to your Christmas party, but “Banquet” is a neat bit of suspense and social commentary. And that’s quite a trick on Hawthorne’s part.

The selection:

“I know of but one misfortune,” answered Gervayse Hastings, quietly, “and that is my own.”

“Your own!” rejoined the philanthropist. “And looking back on your serene and prosperous life, how can you claim to be the sole unfortunate of the human race?”

“You will not understand it,” replied Gervayse Hastings, feebly, and with a singular inefficiency of pronunciation, and sometimes putting one word for another. “None have understood it, not even those who experience the like. It is a chillness, a want of earnestness, a feeling as if what should be my heart were a thing of vapor, a haunting perception of unreality! Thus seeming to possess all that other men have, all that men aim at, I have really possessed nothing, neither joy nor griefs. All things, all persons,—as was truly said to me at this table long and long ago,—have been like shadows flickering on the wall. It was so with my wife and children, with those who seemed my friends: it is so with yourselves, whom I see now before one. Neither have I myself any real existence, but am a shadow like the rest.”

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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