March 2020 favorites

March 2020

The March stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. ‘Wakefield’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  3. ‘The Death Of A Government Clerk’ by Anton Chekhov
  4. ‘A Dead Woman’s Secrets’ by Guy de Maupassant
  5. ‘Her Letters’ by Kate Chopin
  6. ‘The Birth-Mark’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  7. ‘The Lightning-Rod Man’ by Herman Melville
  8. ‘The Pelican’ by Edith Wharton
  9. ‘Wild Frank’s Return’ by Walt Whitman
  10. ‘A Winter Courtship’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
  11. ‘My Friend Bingham’ by Henry James
  12. ‘The Haunted Mind’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. ‘Nanette: An Aside’ by Willa Cather
  14. ‘The Striding Place’ by Gertrude Atherton
  15. ‘Is He Living Or Is He Dead?’ by Mark Twain
  16. ‘The Maypole Of Merry-Mount’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  17. ‘Legend Of The Two Discreet Statues’ by Washington Irving

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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

‘A White Heron’ by Sarah Orne Jewett

Jewett, Sarah Orne 1886

A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett, 1886

The magic trick:

Eloquently showing a young girls first glimpse of romantic love and the way that immediately scatters priorities and views

On the surface, especially in 2014, the idea of an older ornithologist charming a young girl romantically in order to gain access to a local bird sounds pretty creepy. But Jewett has a way of portraying that very scenario in this story with a gentle, natural touch. The ornithologist is selfish, yes, but not really creepy, per se. Jewett is very careful to keep his point of view out of the line of sight. His selfish agenda is only implied. What the reader gets instead is Sylvia’s young, restless, and bored, worldview. She is young and innocent and learning anything and everything. Her interest in the man is only the interest of a young girl desperate for recognition, and her journey toward making a mature decision about the fate of the heron proves heart-warming and inspiring. And that’s quite a trick on Jewett’s part.

The selection:

But as the day waned, Sylvia watched the young man with loving admiration. She had never seen anybody so charming and delightful; the woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love. Some premonition of that great power stirred and swayed these young foresters who traversed the solemn woodlands with soft-footed silent care. They stopped to listen to a bird’s song; they pressed forward again eagerly, parting the branches, – speaking to each other rarely and in whispers; the young man going first and Sylvia following, fascinated, a few steps behind, with her gray eyes dark with excitement.