April 2015 favorites


April 2015

The April stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Bullet In The Brain’ by Tobias Wolff
  2. ‘The Shawl’ by Cynthia Ozick
  3. ‘The Bath’ by Raymond Carver
  4. ‘The Five-Forty-Eight’ by John Cheever
  5. ‘The Living’ by Mary Lavin
  6. ‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ by Raymond Carver
  7. ‘Feathers’ by Raymond Carver
  8. ‘Death Of A Right Fielder’ by Stuart Dybek
  9. ‘Death Of A Traveling Salesman’ by Eudora Welty
  10. ‘Everything Stuck To Him’ by Raymond Carver
  11. ‘The Vertical Ladder’ by William Sansom
  12. ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ by Richard Connell
  13. ‘A Small, Good Thing’ by Raymond Carver
  14. ‘The Patented Gate And The Mean Hamburger’ by Robert Penn Warren
  15. ‘One Throw’ by W.C. Heinz
  16. ‘One Gram Short’ by Etgar Keret
  17. ‘Game’ by Donald Barthelme
  18. ‘Alibi Ike’ by Ring Lardner
  19. ‘Smoke’ by Michael Chabon
  20. ‘The Jewbird’ by Bernard Malamud
  21. ‘The Pitcher And The Plutocrat’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  22. ‘The Hitchhiking Game’ by Milan Kundera
  23. ‘Tony’s Wife’ by Alice Dunbar-Nelson
  24. ‘The Man Who Saw Through Heaven’ by Wilbur Daniel Steele

June 2014 favorites


June 2014

The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.

  1. ‘Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time’ by Peter Taylor
  2. ‘Blackberry Winter’ by Robert Penn Warren
  3. ‘Babylon Revisited’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. ‘Upon The Sweeping Flood’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  5. ‘Good Country People’ by Flannery O’Connor
  6. ‘My Old Man’ by Ernest Hemingway
  7. ‘I’m A Fool’ by Sherwood Anderson
  8. ‘Sonny’s Blues’ by James Baldwin
  9. ‘Only The Dead Know Brooklyn’ by Thomas Wolfe
  10. ‘Double Birthday’ by Willa Cather
  11. ‘The View From The Balcony’ by Wallace Stegner
  12. ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud
  13. ‘No Place For You, My Love’ by Eudora Welty
  14. ‘The Schreuderspitze’ by Mark Helprin
  15. ‘The Hartleys’ by John Cheever
  16. ‘O City Of Broken Dreams’ by John Cheever
  17. ‘A Day In The Open’ by Jane Bowles
  18. ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson
  19. ‘In The Zoo’ by Jean Stafford
  20. ‘The Lost Phoebe’ by Theodore Dreiser
  21. ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  22. ‘How Beautiful With Shoes’ by Wilbur Daniel Steele
  23. ‘The Little Wife’ by William March
  24. ‘A Distant Episode’ by Paul Bowles
  25. ‘The Faithful Wife’ by Morley Callaghan
  26. ‘The Golden Honeymoon’ by Ring Lardner
  27. ‘Resurrection Of A Life’ by William Saroyan
  28. ‘The State Of Grace’ by Harold Brodkey
  29. ‘A Telephone Call’ by Dorothy Parker
  30. ‘The Survivors’ by Elsie Singmaster

‘How Beautiful With Shoes’ by Wilbur Daniel Steele

steele, wilbur 1931

How Beautiful With Shoes by Wilbur Daniel Steele, 1932

The magic trick:

Balancing Amarantha’s reaction to her kidnapping between terror and enthrallment

Amarantha is terrified by Humble Jewett. That part makes sense. He is, after all, a murderous madman escaped from the local asylum. But it’s the excitement and interest she shows at various points, in spite of the danger, that truly surprise, and it is in these feelings that Steele makes his mark with the story.

Humble Jewett represents passion – fire and blood, as Steele describes it during the pair’s first meeting. Passion can be overwhelming and terrifying, but likewise it is alluring and addictive. Amarantha never tasted passion before her encounter with Jewett and it seems to reset her entire worldview.

When she sees the literal fire and blood of the church fire later in the story, she is shocked and scared of the danger but takes a few extra moments to watch. She can’t look away. She has been taken in by the fire – the passion. By the end, she’s not relieved to be safe at home; she’s mourning the return of the safe existence among the drudgery of the farm. And that’s quite a trick on Steele’s part.

The selection:

She stood stock-still. Her mother’s voice was to be heard in the distance, strident and meaningless. More cars were on the road. Nearer, around the rock, there were sounds of tramping and thrashing. Ruby fussed and cursed. He shouted, “Mare, dang you, where are you, Mare?” his voice harsh with uneasy anger. Now, if she aimed to do anything, was the time to do it. But there was neither breath nor power in her windpipe. It was as if those yearning fingers had paralyzed the muscles.