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

 

 

 

August 2014 favorites

august2014

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

‘Bright And Morning Star’ by Richard Wright

Wright, Richard 1938

Bright And Morning Star by Richard Wright, 1938

The magic trick:

Using the limited omniscient narrator to reflect Aunt Sues lack of control and power

Stories this breathtakingly great make my blog’s concept of picking but one magic trick per story seem pretty stupid. “Bright And Morning Star” is one of the most powerful stories I have ever read. And much of that power derives from the lack of power Aunt Sue wields. She can’t take control of her own life in any way, struggling against both the racism of her southern surroundings and the choices her own son makes. She’s left alone at home with nothing to do but wait and hope.

Wright illustrates this brilliantly by using a limited omniscient narrator. The reader is confined to the house with Aunt Sue, stuck nervously waiting for information from afar. The plot moves through her thoughts and through her interactions with the various visitors to her home. She finally leaves the house and takes action at the end of the story. And while the closing scene is brutal, it still feels like a victory of sorts because finally, Aunt Sue has determined the outcome.

It is important to note, too, that aligning the reader with Aunt Sue’s point of view was especially important given the time period in which this story was written. The southern black point of view was terribly underrepresented then (and now). To give Aunt Sue a voice at all was valuable. To do so with such literary brilliance and power was genius. And that’s quite a trick on Wright’s part.

The selection:

She stood by the ironing board, her hands folded loosely over her stomach, watching Reva pull off her watterclogged shoes. She was feeling that Johnny-Boy was already lost to her; she was feeling the pain that would come when she knew it for certain; and she was feeling that she would have to be brave and bear it. She was like a person caught in a swift current of water and knew where the water was sweeping her and did not want to go on but had to go on to the end.

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