December 2022 favorites

December 2022

The December stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Read This And Tell Me What It Says’ by A. Manette Ansay
  2. ‘The Happiest I’ve Been’ by John Updike
  3. ‘A Jury Of Her Peers’ by Susan Glaspell
  4. ‘God Writes A Bad Hand’ by J.F. Powers
  5. ‘Naked Ladies’ by Antonya Nelson
  6. ‘The Champ’ by Pedro Juan Soto
  7. ‘Sybil’ by A. Manette Ansay
  8. ‘Grandma’s Wake’ by Emilio Díaz Valcárcel
  9. ‘Changes In Louise’ by Tom Drury
  10. ‘The Sculptor’s Funeral’ by Willa Cather
  11. ‘Agnes Of Iowa’ by Lorrie Moore
  12. ‘Kansas’ by Antonya Nelson
  13. ‘Camping Out’ by James Wilcox
  14. ‘Beautiful Grade’ by Lorrie Moore
  15. ‘Purification On Cristo Street’ by René Marqués
  16. ‘Spit In The Governor’s Tea’ by Shay Youngblood
  17. ‘Peyo Mercé: English Teacher’ by Abelardo Díaz Alfaro
  18. ‘Dundun’ by Denis Johnson
  19. ‘The Way Of The World’ by Willa Cather
  20. ‘One Christmas’ by Truman Capote
  21. ‘The Artichoke’ by Marilyn Krysl

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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May 2022 favorites

May 2022

The May stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Children On Their Birthdays’ by Truman Capote
  2. ‘A View Of The Woods’ by Flannery O’Connor
  3. ‘Complicities’ by Alice Adams
  4. ‘This Is Paradise’ by Kristiana Kahakauwila
  5. ‘Birdland’ by Michael Knight
  6. ‘Consolation’ by Richard Bausch
  7. ‘Strange Moonlight’ by Conrad Aiken
  8. ‘The Quest For “Blank Claveringi”’ by Patricia Highsmith
  9. ‘Sucker’ by Carson McCullers
  10. ‘Buck Boy’ by James McBride
  11. ‘Friends From Philadelphia’ by John Updike
  12. ‘To Hell With Dying’ by Alice Walker
  13. ‘The Devil And Daniel Webster’ by Stephen Vincent Benét
  14. ‘The Local Production Of Cinderella’ by Allegra Goodman
  15. ‘Young Francis Whitehead’ by William Maxwell
  16. ‘Playing Before Royalty’ by Ian MacMillan
  17. ‘The Child Screams And Looks Back At You’ by Russell Banks
  18. ‘The Intermediate Class’ by Sam Allingham

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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August 2018 favorites

August 2018

The August stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘The Comforts Of Home’ by Flannery O’Connor
  2. ‘Petrified Man’ by Eudora Welty
  3. ‘Where Is The Voice Coming From?’ by Eudora Welty
  4. ‘Hair’ by William Faulkner
  5. ‘Dogs Go Wolf’ by Lauren Groff
  6. ‘A Pair Of Silk Stockings’ by Kate Chopin
  7. ‘Lily Daw And The Three Ladies’ by Eudora Welty
  8. ‘Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed’ by Barry Hannah
  9. ‘My Side Of The Matter’ by Truman Capote
  10. ‘The Homecoming’ by Frank Yerby
  11. ‘A Memory’ by Eudora Welty
  12. ‘The Confidence Man’ by George Garrett
  13. ‘A Curtain Of Green’ by Eudora Welty
  14. ‘Wunderkind’ by Carson McCullers
  15. ‘The Man With Two Left Feet’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  16. ‘Porte-Cochere’ by Peter Taylor
  17. ‘A Mother’s Tale’ by James Agee

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

October 2015 favorites


October 2015

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Don’t Look Now’ by Daphne du Maurier
  2. ‘Leiningen Versus The Ants’ by Carl Stephenson
  3. ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  4. ‘Strawberry Spring’ by Stephen King
  5. ‘The Masque Of The Red Death’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  6. ‘Miriam’ by Truman Capote
  7. ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs
  8. ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  9. ‘In The Red Room’ by Paul Bowles
  10. ‘The Lawnmower Man’ by Stephen King
  11. ‘The Black Cat’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  12. ‘Silent Snow, Secret Snow’ by Conrad Aiken
  13. ‘Becky’ by Jean Toomer
  14. ‘The Fall Of The House Of Usher’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  15. ‘The Pedestrian’ by Ray Bradbury
  16. ‘The Pit And The Pendulum’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  17. ‘The Use Of Force’ by William Carlos Williams
  18. ‘1408’ by Stephen King
  19. ‘Down To A Sunless Sea’ by Neil Gaiman
  20. ‘Hop-Frog’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  21. ‘The Boogeyman’ by Stephen King
  22. ‘Here There Be Tygers’ by Stephen King
  23. ‘The Hedgehog’ by Saki



December 2014 favorites


December 2014

The December stories organized solely by my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Jeeves And The Yule-Tide Spirit’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  2. ‘The H Street Sledding Record’ by Ron Carlson
  3. ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote
  4. ‘A Christmas Tree And A Wedding’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  5. ‘The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. ‘Christmas At Red Butte’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  7. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Maeve Brennan
  8. ‘One Christmas Eve’ by Langston Hughes
  9. ‘The Gift Of The Magi’ by O. Henry
  10. ‘Powder’ by Tobias Wolff
  11. ‘The Ledge’ by Lawrence Sargent Hall
  12. ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ by Dylan Thomas
  13. ‘The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding’ by Agatha Christie
  14. ‘The Christmas Wreck’ by Frank Stockton
  15. ‘At Christmas Time’ by Anton Chekhov
  16. ‘Christmas Day In The Morning’ by Pearl S. Buck
  17. ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Andersen
  18. ‘Markheim’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  19. ‘Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor’ by John Cheever
  20. ‘The Burglar’s Christmas’ by Willa Cather
  21. ‘Papa Panov’s Special Christmas’ by Leo Tolstoy
  22. ‘The Beggar Boy At Christ’s Christmas Tree’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  23. ‘A New Year’s Gift’ by Guy de Maupassant
  24. ‘The Christmas Banquet’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  25. ‘The Best Christmas Ever’ by James Patrick Kelly
  26. ‘Christmas Eve’ by Guy de Maupassant

‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote

Capote, Truman 1956

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, 1956

The magic trick:

Presenting the bulk of the story as a self-enclosed world untouched by time before highlighting the heartbreakingly temporary nature of the rituals

This is a classic for several reasons. The key trick Capote manages, as far as I can tell, is pulling the rug out from under the readers a little bit at the end. The story is so warm and content and self-enclosed as the narrator details the many little Christmas traditions he shared with his cousin and friend. Suddenly, near the end of the story, Capote pulls back the lens and we see the Christmas memory with more context. These rituals didn’t last forever, and loneliness and sadness often took their place in the years that followed. By placing the memory within a larger biography what might have been a simple, funny and heartwarming reminiscence takes on a greater meaning. And that’s quite a trick on Capote’s part.

The selection:

“My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. “You know what I’ve always thought?” she asks in a tone of discovery and not smiling at me but a point beyond. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when he came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’11 wager it never happens. I’11 wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are”—her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone—”just what they’ve always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”