October 2017 favorites

October 2017

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ by Ray Bradbury
  2. ‘The Hanging Stranger’ by Philip K. Dick
  3. ‘Landfill’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  4. ‘Closing Time’ by Neil Gaiman
  5. ‘A Resumed Identity’ by Ambrose Bierce
  6. ‘St. John’s Eve’ by Nikolai Gogol
  7. ‘Man From The South’ by Roald Dahl
  8. ‘The Terror’ by Guy de Maupassant
  9. ‘The Circular Ruins’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  10. ‘One Summer Night’ by Ambrose Bierce
  11. ‘A Vine On A House’ by Ambrose Bierce
  12. ‘Quitters, Inc.’ by Stephen King
  13. ‘The Beggarwoman Of Locarno’ by Heinrich von Kleist
  14. ‘The Boarded Window’ by Ambrose Bierce
  15. ‘A Baby Tramp’ by Ambrose Bierce
  16. ‘The White Maniac – A Doctor’s Tale’ by Mary Fortune

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

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June 2016 favorites


June 2016

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Overcoat’ by Nikolai Gogol
  2. ‘Diary Of A Madman’ by Nikolai Gogol
  3. ‘The Swim Team’ by Miranda July
  4. ‘Nevsky Prospect’ by Nikolai Gogol
  5. ‘Unjust’ by Richard Bausch
  6. ‘Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka And His Aunt’ by Nikolai Gogol
  7. ‘Idiots First’ by Bernard Malamud
  8. ‘Under The Radar’ by Richard Ford
  9. ‘The Carriage’ by Nikolai Gogol
  10. ‘Accident At The Sugarbeet’ by Tom Drury
  11. ‘Privacy’ by Richard Ford
  12. ‘Calling’ by Richard Ford
  13. ‘Puppy’ by Richard Ford
  14. ‘A Day’ by William Trevor
  15. ‘Reunion’ by Richard Ford
  16. ‘Esther’ by Jean Toomer
  17. ‘The King Of Norway’ by Amos Oz

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

November 2014 favorites


November 2014

The November stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Chickamauga’ by Ambrose Bierce
  2. ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather
  3. ‘The Veldt’ by Ray Bradbury
  4. ‘The Story Of An Hour’ by Kate Chopin
  5. ‘Of This Time, Of That Place’ by Lionel Trilling
  6. ‘The Nose’ by Nikolai Gogol
  7. ‘A White Heron’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
  8. ‘A Circle In The Fire’ by Flannery O’Connor
  9. ‘Going For A Beer’ by Robert Coover
  10. ‘Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen’ by O. Henry
  11. ‘Dawn Of Remembered Spring’ by Jesse Stuart
  12. ‘The Middle Years’ by Henry James
  13. ‘The Catbird Seat’ by James Thurber
  14. ‘The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story’ by Joel Chandler Harris
  15. ‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan
  16. ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ by Jorge Luis Borges
  17. ‘An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving’ by Louisa May Alcott
  18. ‘Who Lived And Died Believing’ by Nancy Hale
  19. ‘The Devil And Tom Walker’ by Washington Irving
  20. ‘The Facts Concerning The Recent Carnival Of Crime In Connecticut’ by Mark Twain

‘The Nose’ by Nikolai Gogol

Gogol, Nikolai 1836

The Nose by Nikolai Gogol, 1836

The magic trick:

Balancing conceptual symbolism and comedy

Typically, when an artist elects to use bold symbolism and conceptual commentary, they are trading in the chance at comedy (at least unintentional comedy). High pretension simply doesn’t blend well with a down-to-earth sense of humor. Somehow though, Gogol is able to achieve both simultaneously.

Consider that in “The Nose,” Gogol does all this: totally distorts the reader’s sense of realistic expectation, makes very serious critiques of a society based on superficial status symbols, and distances himself from the whole thing by throwing in funny asides in which the narrator basically says, “Wow, this whole story is really silly.”

It’s a wonderful tone – like Twain, Chekhov and Kafka rolled into one. And that’s quite a trick on Gogol’s part.

The selection:

Poor Kovalev felt almost demented. The astounding event left him utterly at a loss. For how could the nose which had been on his face but yesterday, and able then neither to drive nor to walk independently, now be going about in uniform?