August 2016 favorites


August 2016

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Vanishing American’ by Leslie Parry
  2. ‘Chef’s House’ by Raymond Carver
  3. ‘Of Mystery There Is No End’ by Leonard Michaels
  4. ‘Nachman From Los Angeles’ by Leonard Michaels
  5. ‘Vitamins’ by Raymond Carver
  6. ‘The Embassy Of Cambodia’ by Zadie Smith
  7. ‘Nachman At The Races’ by Leonard Michaels
  8. ‘Scheherazade’ by Haruki Murakami
  9. ‘The Penultimate Conjecture’ by Leonard Michaels
  10. ‘Cryptology’ by Leonard Michaels
  11. ‘Passing’ by Langston Hughes
  12. ‘Preservation’ by Raymond Carver
  13. ‘Nachman Burning’ by Leonard Michaels
  14. ‘1-900’ by Richard Bausch
  15. ‘Fever’ by Raymond Carver
  16. ‘The Gilded Six-Bits’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  17. ‘(I Thought My Father Looked Like FDR)’ by George Chambers
  18. ‘The Train’ by Raymond Carver
  19. ‘Chablis’ by Donald Barthelme

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

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.

August 2014 favorites


August 2014

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Bright And Morning Star’ by Richard Wright
  2. ‘Symbols And Signs’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. ‘The Chrysanthemums’ by John Steinbeck
  4. ‘Free Fruit For Young Widows’ by Nathan Englander
  5. ‘The School’ by Donald Barthelme
  6. ‘The Night The Bed Fell’ by James Thurber
  7. ‘My First Goose’ by Isaac Babel
  8. ‘The Wood Duck’ by James Thurber
  9. ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ by James Thurber
  10. ‘The Fireman’s Wife’ by Richard Bausch
  11. ‘The Killers’ by Ernest Hemingway
  12. ‘In The Penal Colony’ by Franz Kafka
  13. ‘He’ by Katherine Anne Porter
  14. ‘The Rich Brother’ by Tobias Wolff
  15. ‘Lovers Of The Lake’ by Sean O’Faolain
  16. ‘First Love’ by Vladimir Nabokov
  17. ‘The Mysterious Kor’ by Elizabeth Bowen
  18. ‘Thirst’ by Ivo Andric
  19. ‘In Another Country’ by Ernest Hemingway
  20. ‘The Iron City’ by Lovell Thompson
  21. ‘Dusky Ruth’ by A.E. Coppard
  22. ‘The Odour Of Chrysanthemums’ by D.H. Lawrence
  23. ‘The Door’ by E.B. White
  24. ‘The Camberwell Beauty’ by V.S. Pritchett
  25. ‘The Fly’ by Katherine Mansfield
  26. ‘Christ In Concrete’ by Pietro di Donato
  27. ‘American Express’ by James Salter
  28. ‘The Piano’ by Anibal Monteiro Machado
  29. ‘The Greatest Man In The World’ by James Thurber
  30. ‘Men’ by Kay Boyle
  31. ‘A Couple Of Hamburgers’ by James Thurber

‘The Fireman’s Wife’ by Richard Bausch

Bausch, Richard 1990

The Fireman’s Wife by Richard Bausch, 1990

The magic trick:

Using a dramatic plot twist but not allowing it to dramatically affect the ending

I find it difficult to write about this without spoiling the ending, given that what I’m writing about is the ending. So, my apologies if I fail.

The plot twist we get about two-thirds of the way through the story is not particularly surprising, nor is the resulting situation it creates. What is surprising is the extent – or lack thereof – that the twist affects the ending.

I like that. The easy thing to do as a writer would be to carry the drama to its logical conclusion. Something crazy out of the ordinary begets crazy-out-of-the-ordinary results, right? Well, not really. Most times most people stay close to normal in their reactions, no matter how extraordinary the preceding action. This story reflects that well. The conclusion feels very honest. And that’s quite a trick on Bausch’s part.

The selection:

Later, while he sleeps on the sofa, she wanders outside and walks down to the end of the driveway. The day is sunny and cool, with little cottony clouds – the kind of clear day that comes after a storm. She looks up and down the street. Nothing is moving. A few houses away someone has put up a flag, and it flutters in a stray breeze. This is the way it was, she remembers, when she first lived here – when she first stood on this sidewalk and marveled at how flat the land was, how far it stretched in all directions. Now she turns and makes her way back to the house, and then she finds herself in the garage. It’s almost as if she’s saying good-bye to everything, and as this thought occurs to her, she feels a little stir of sadness.