July 2015 favorites

July2015

July 2015

The July stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Wash’ by William Faulkner
  2. ‘A Rose For Emily’ by William Faulkner
  3. ‘The Beauties’ by Anton Chekhov
  4. ‘The Kiss’ by Anton Chekhov
  5. ‘The Bishop’ by Anton Chekhov
  6. ‘Revelation’ by Flannery O’Connor
  7. ‘The Darling’ by Anton Chekhov
  8. ‘What You Pawn I Will Redeem’ by Sherman Alexie
  9. ‘Shingles For The Lord’ by William Faulkner
  10. ‘The Only Traffic Signal On The Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore’ by Sherman Alexie
  11. ‘Health Card’ by Frank Yerby
  12. ‘The Huntsman’ by Anton Chekhov
  13. ‘The Artificial N—–‘ by Flannery O’Connor
  14. ‘Referential’ by Lorrie Moore
  15. ‘The Angel In The Alcove’ by Tennessee Williams
  16. ‘Because My Father Always Said He Was The Only Indian Who Saw Jim Hendrix Play The Star-Spangled Banner At Woodstock’ by Sherman Alexie
  17. ‘Shall Not Perish’ by William Faulkner
  18. ‘Death Drag’ by William Faulkner
  19. ‘Weekend’ by Ann Beattie
  20. ‘This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona’ by Sherman Alexie
  21. ‘Amusements’ by Sherman Alexie
  22. ‘Northerners Can Be So Smug’ by Alice Childress
  23. ‘The Case Of Four And Twenty Blackbirds’ by Neil Gaiman

 

October 2014 favorites

october2014

October 2014

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ by Flannery O’Connor
  2. ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ by Flannery O’Connor
  3. ‘The River’ by Flannery O’Connor
  4. ‘A&P’ by John Updike
  5. ‘The Life You Save May Be Your Own’ by Flannery O’Connor
  6. ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman
  7. ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  8. ‘Nilda’ by Junot Diaz
  9. ‘Young Goodman Brown’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  10. ‘The Lady’s Maid’s Bell’ by Edith Wharton
  11. ‘Luella Miller’ by Mary Wilkins Freeman
  12. ‘The Outcasts Of Poker Flat’ by Bret Harte
  13. ‘The Sutton Place Story’ by John Cheever
  14. ‘Premium Harmony’ by Stephen King
  15. ‘Paper Losses’ by Lorrie Moore
  16. ‘This Morning, This Evening, So Soon’ by James Baldwin
  17. ‘Three Players Of A Summer Game’ by Tennessee Williams
  18. ‘A Stroke Of Good Fortune’ by Flannery O’Connor
  19. ‘The Body Snatcher’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. ‘Awake’ by Tobias Wolff
  21. ‘In Greenwich, There Are Many Gravelled Walks’ by Hortense Calisher
  22. ‘A Dark Brown Dog’ by Stephen Crane
  23. ‘Nothing Ever Breaks Except The Heart’ by Kay Boyle

‘Three Players Of A Summer Game’ by Tennessee Williams

Williams, Tennessee 1952

Three Players Of A Summer Game by Tennessee Williams, 1952

The magic trick:

Telling the story through the eyes of a neighbor

This story recalls to mind both a story SSMT discussed last summer – Peter Taylor’s masterful “Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time” – and a novel – Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides. We have bad parents; alcoholism; lonely, damaged children; and maybe most crucially, the judgments of a community as relayed through the narration of a neighbor.

The narrator in “Three Players Of A Summer Game” is not one of the titular three players. But that’s the point. As a neighbor with only minimal connection to the key characters, he is able to give the story from outside their defenses. A third-person omniscient narration, obviously, could provide that same advantage; but the neighbor narration has one up on the godlike perspective in that it can imbue the community’s point of view. This gives a much deeper feeling of scorn toward Brick Pollitt’s relationship with the widow; much more embarrassment felt for Brick’s nude, late-night outburst on the croquet lawn. A third-person narration would probably detach the reader too far from the community. The first-person narration from a tangential character provides the perfect balance, closeness to distance, and makes the portraits of the three players that much richer. And that’s quite a trick on Williams’s part.

The selection:

But people did not approve of what Brick Pollitt was doing. They sympathized with Margaret, that brave little woman who had to put up with so much. As for Dr. Gray’s widow, she had not been very long in the town; the Doctor had married her while he was an intern at a big hospital in Baltimore. Nobody had formed a definite opinion of her before the Doctor died, so it was no effort now simply to condemn her, without any qualification, as a common strumpet.

Brick Pollitt, when he talked to the house painters, shouted to them as if they were deaf, so that all the neighbors could hear what he had to say. He was explaining things to the world, especially the matter of his drinking.