February 2018 favorites

February 2018

The February stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx
  2. ‘Daisy’s Valentine’ by Mary Gaitskill
  3. ‘Clara’ by Roberto Bolaño
  4. ‘The Wife’ by Jennifer Jordan
  5. ‘Counting Breaths’ by Rosemarie Robotham
  6. ‘Last Night’ by James Salter
  7. ‘Cafeteria’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  8. ‘- And The Moon Be Still As Bright’ by Ray Bradbury
  9. ‘Fedora’ by Kate Chopin
  10. ‘The Lynching Of Jube Benson’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  11. ‘Solo On The Drums’ by Ann Petry
  12. ‘The Stout Gentleman’ by Washington Irving
  13. ‘The Man Who Disliked Cats’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  14. ‘Water Child’ by Edwidge Danticat
  15. ‘The Lost Decade’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. ‘Living’ by Grace Paley
  17. ‘Between The Halves’ by John O’Hara

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

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October 2016 favorites


October 2016

The October stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Eisenheim The Illusionist’ by Steven Millhauser
  2. ‘The Red-Headed League’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’ by Washington Irving
  4. ‘The Birds’ by Daphne du Maurier
  5. ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. ‘Spunk’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  7. ‘The Other Place’ by Mary Gaitskill
  8. ‘A Short Trip Home’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. ‘The Five Orange Pips’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. ‘The Baby-Sitter’ by Jane Yolen
  11. ‘The Adventure Of The Solitary Cyclist’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. ‘The Adventure Of Abbey Grange’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  13. ‘Unhappiness’ by Franz Kafka
  14. ‘The Ledge’ by Stephen King
  15. ‘Descent Into The Maelstrom’ by Edgar Allan Poe

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

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

‘The Devil And Tom Walker’ by Washington Irving

Irving, Washington 1824

The Devil And Tom Walker by Washington Irving, 1824

The magic trick:

Calling into question early on the veracity of the story

The history of American literature is rooted in oral storytelling. Irving, of course a very important part of those roots, makes sure to establish “The Devil And Tom Walker” in a faux-oral tradition. Irving alternates between a third-person omniscient narration and the voice of a neighborhood storyteller.

The key moment comes when he discusses the disappearance of Tom Walker’s wife. He writes: “What her real fate nobody knows, in consequence of so many pretending to know.” The story, at this point, is no longer simply a scary tale or even Christian allegory. The story becomes about storytelling, the way communities pass on their own myths and history. And that’s quite a trick on Irving’s part.

The selection:

The most current and probable story, however, observes, that Tom Walker grew so anxious about the fate of his wife and his property, that he set out at length to seek them both at the Indian fort. During a long summer’s afternoon he searched about the gloomy place, but no wife was to be seen. He called her name repeatedly, but she was nowhere to be heard.