August 2018 favorites

August 2018

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Comforts Of Home’ by Flannery O’Connor
  2. ‘Petrified Man’ by Eudora Welty
  3. ‘Where Is The Voice Coming From?’ by Eudora Welty
  4. ‘Hair’ by William Faulkner
  5. ‘Dogs Go Wolf’ by Lauren Groff
  6. ‘A Pair Of Silk Stockings’ by Kate Chopin
  7. ‘Lily Daw And The Three Ladies’ by Eudora Welty
  8. ‘Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed’ by Barry Hannah
  9. ‘My Side Of The Matter’ by Truman Capote
  10. ‘The Homecoming’ by Frank Yerby
  11. ‘A Memory’ by Eudora Welty
  12. ‘The Confidence Man’ by George Garrett
  13. ‘A Curtain Of Green’ by Eudora Welty
  14. ‘Wunderkind’ by Carson McCullers
  15. ‘The Man With Two Left Feet’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  16. ‘Porte-Cochere’ by Peter Taylor
  17. ‘A Mother’s Tale’ by James Agee

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

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June 2015 favorites

June2015

June 2015

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Dead’ by James Joyce
  2. ‘Big Boy Leaves Home’ by Richard Wright
  3. ‘Dry September’ by William Faulkner
  4. ‘Araby’ by James Joyce
  5. ‘Eveline’ by James Joyce
  6. ‘The Boarding House’ by James Joyce
  7. ‘Counterparts’ by James Joyce
  8. ‘An Encounter’ by James Joyce
  9. ‘A Little Cloud’ by James Joyce
  10. ‘Two Pilgrims’ by Peter Taylor
  11. ‘A Painful Case’ by James Joyce
  12. ‘The Sisters’ by James Joyce
  13. ‘Ivy Day In The Committee Room’ by James Joyce
  14. ‘Going Ashore’ by Mavis Gallant
  15. ‘Two Gallants’ by James Joyce
  16. ‘Madame Zilensky And The King Of Finland’ by Carson McCullers
  17. ‘Grace’ by James Joyce
  18. ‘Clay’ by James Joyce
  19. ‘A Mother’ by James Joyce
  20. ‘And The Rock Cried Out’ by Ray Bradbury
  21. ‘After The Race’ by James Joyce
  22. ‘The Man From Mars’ by Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

May 2015 favorites

May2015

May 2015

The May stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Medal From Jerusalem’ by Irwin Shaw
  2. ‘A Silver Dish’ by Saul Bellow
  3. ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway
  4. ‘One Off The Short List’ by Doris Lessing
  5. ‘Neighbors’ by Diane Oliver
  6. ‘Drenched In Light’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  7. ‘The Snows Of Kilimanjaro’ by Ernest Hemingway
  8. ‘Eli, The Fanatic’ by Philip Roth
  9. ‘The Gift Of The Prodigal’ by Peter Taylor
  10. ‘Che Ti Dice La Patria?’ by Ernest Hemingway
  11. ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway
  12. ‘The New Order’ by Nancy Hale
  13. ‘Three Million Yen’ by Yukio Mishima
  14. ‘The Supper’ by Tadeusz Borowski
  15. ‘The Interior Castle’ by Jean Stafford
  16. ‘How I Contemplated The World From The Detroit House Of Correction And Began My Life Over Again’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  17. ‘A Simple Enquiry’ by Ernest Hemingway
  18. ‘Janus’ by Ann Beattie
  19. ‘Family Portrait’ by Sherman Alexie
  20. ‘Champion’ by Ring Lardner
  21. ‘The End Of The World’ by Dino Buzzati

June 2014 favorites

june2014

June 2014

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time’ by Peter Taylor
  2. ‘Blackberry Winter’ by Robert Penn Warren
  3. ‘Babylon Revisited’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. ‘Upon The Sweeping Flood’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  5. ‘Good Country People’ by Flannery O’Connor
  6. ‘My Old Man’ by Ernest Hemingway
  7. ‘I’m A Fool’ by Sherwood Anderson
  8. ‘Sonny’s Blues’ by James Baldwin
  9. ‘Only The Dead Know Brooklyn’ by Thomas Wolfe
  10. ‘Double Birthday’ by Willa Cather
  11. ‘The View From The Balcony’ by Wallace Stegner
  12. ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud
  13. ‘No Place For You, My Love’ by Eudora Welty
  14. ‘The Schreuderspitze’ by Mark Helprin
  15. ‘The Hartleys’ by John Cheever
  16. ‘O City Of Broken Dreams’ by John Cheever
  17. ‘A Day In The Open’ by Jane Bowles
  18. ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson
  19. ‘In The Zoo’ by Jean Stafford
  20. ‘The Lost Phoebe’ by Theodore Dreiser
  21. ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  22. ‘How Beautiful With Shoes’ by Wilbur Daniel Steele
  23. ‘The Little Wife’ by William March
  24. ‘A Distant Episode’ by Paul Bowles
  25. ‘The Faithful Wife’ by Morley Callaghan
  26. ‘The Golden Honeymoon’ by Ring Lardner
  27. ‘Resurrection Of A Life’ by William Saroyan
  28. ‘The State Of Grace’ by Harold Brodkey
  29. ‘A Telephone Call’ by Dorothy Parker
  30. ‘The Survivors’ by Elsie Singmaster

‘Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time’ by Peter Taylor

taylor, peter 1961

Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time by Peter Taylor, 1959

The magic trick:

Making the reader a co-conspirator

This story is so good it manages to touch on about 56 different themes in its few pages. At its core, though, this is a story about storytelling; how perceptions – erroneous as they may be – dictate judgments among communities and families. Taylor dusts the story in shame, guilt, and innocence lost. The especially brilliant part: he makes the reader feel all those things along the way.

How does he do it? The key thing is having the narrator speak in second person, directly addressing the reader. It’s as if the narrator knows the reader lives in the town and therefore has an intimate understanding of the community. Further, this assumption means that the narrator’s often-harsh judgments and close-minded attitudes are forced on the audience as our own.

The story exposes the community as classist, repressed, and even incestuous, and, because we were implicated from the beginning by the narrator as being part of this town’s judging class, we the reader share the blame.

Without that little touch, the story – still likely great for other reasons – would read as a standard telling of a strange event in a town’s history. The reader would probably think about how perceptions form reality. But by using the occasional second-person technique, Taylor makes the reader feel the guilt of casting constrictive judgments. And that’s quite a trick on Taylor’s part.

The selection:

They lived in a dilapidated and curiously mutilated house on a street, which, except for their own house, was the most splendid street in the entire city. Their house was one that you or I would have been ashamed to live in – even in the lean years of the early thirties.