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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January 2015 favorites


January 2015

The January stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘How I Met My Husband’ by Alice Munro
  2. ‘Bardon Bus’ by Alice Munro
  3. ‘One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts’ by Shirley Jackson
  4. ‘The Open Boat’ by Stephen Crane
  5. ‘Where I’m Calling From’ by Raymond Carver
  6. ‘The Drunkard’ by Frank O’Connor
  7. ‘The Wind And The Snow Of Winter’ by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  8. ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker
  9. ‘The Enormous Radio’ by John Cheever
  10. ‘The View From Castle Rock’ by Alice Munro
  11. ‘Boys And Girls’ by Alice Munro
  12. ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Stars’ by Junot Diaz
  13. ‘The Skull’ by Philip K. Dick
  14. ‘The NRACP’ by George P. Elliott
  15. ‘Train’ by Alice Munro
  16. ‘The Other Foot’ by Ray Bradbury
  17. ‘Pigeon Feathers’ by John Updike
  18. ‘Jokester’ by Isaac Asimov
  19. ‘Tell Me A Riddle’ by Tillie Olsen
  20. ‘The Speech Of Polly Baker’ by Benjamin Franklin
  21. ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke

‘The Skull’ by Philip K. Dick

Dick, Philip K. 1953

The Skull by Philp K. Dick, 1953

The magic trick:

Building suspense through the protagonist’s ignorance

Limited third-person narration is a great way to build suspense in a story. Case in point: “The Skull.” The reader takes the story in through Conger’s perspective, which would be fine except that our man Conger doesn’t have a clue about much of what is going on around him. As a result, we the reader is left trying to solve the mystery one step at a time along with our protagonist. And that’s quite a trick on Dick’s part.

The selection:

Conger sighed. His lips twisted. “All right,” he said. “Leave that out. Get to the point. Who do you want me to kill?”

The Speaker smiled. “All in proper sequence,” he said softly.