Monday, May 28, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 28, Speaking of Courage by Tim O'Brien

by z0xx Under CC license
"The town seemed remote somehow. Sally was married and Max was drowned and his father was at home watching baseball on national TV."

Today's selection is a war story that follows the character Norman Bowker who, having returned from war, finds himself driving circles around a lake in his father's truck, and in his memory.

by Tim O'Brien

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 27, Story About The Body by Robert Hass

Photograph of a beehive in a tree overlooking a hill
by Charlotte Nordahl, CC license
"The young composer, working that summer at an artist's colony, had watched her for a week."

Embedded within a newspaper article by poet Robert Pinksy is Robert Hass's prose poem "Story About the Body".  Or not poem, one might argue, but flash fiction piece.  Or one might argue, not flash fiction but a very short story.  What's the difference?  Good question.

For today, the work will be a short story and one that definitely, in its writing and reading, is a celebration of the form--since, of course, the title itself draws attention to the form.  So, without further ado, here is the story for Day 27 of National Short-Story Month, from his collection Human Wishes,


by Robert Hass

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 26, The Daredevil's Wife by Tom Noyes

Photo of a photo of niagra falls
by Rebecca Partington,
Used under CC license

     "Otherwise a calm evening. No eleventh-hour ultimatums, no last-ditch begging. The daredevil and his wife stay home sip wine, channel-surf.
      The daredevil's wife is understandably anxious and distressed, but the daredevil knows, deep-down, she's on board."

Day 26.
National Short-Story Month.

In continuing the lighter of the dark stories from yesterday, she has to decided to continue the lighter of the dark with a dark story lightly told about a man bent on saving his wife, or himself.

by Tom Noyes
(scroll down the Eureka website to read)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 25, Show-and-Tell by George Singleton

Photograph of a turtle against a black-and-white checked background (floor)
by Taro Taylor,
Used under CC license

He held his arms wide open, as if I were a returning POW. "Did your teacher send back a note to me?"
I reached in my pocket and pulled out the letter from Héloise to Abelard. I handed it to him and said, "She made me quit reading."
"She made you quit reading? How far along did you get?"
I told him that I had only gotten to the part about "sugar-booger-baby." 

Six days remain of National Short Story Month, and so far, of the selected stories, none have been humorous.  And so, it's about time for some relief--a story about a boy whose father courts his teacher through a series of covert show-and-tells--by one of the United States' humorists, George Singleton. Of course, for humor to work there must be the bittersweet, too, and there is, there is.  

"Show-and-Tell" is from Singleton's collection The Half-Mammals of Dixie, which she remembers reading in the backyard on a blanket in San Marcos, Texas, having found the book at a library sale. 

by George Singleton

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Superb News! Pringle-Toungate 2012 Artist Trust Fellowship Recipient

A Washington arts foundation, Artist Trust has awarded Erin Pringle-Toungate a writing fellowship.  She is one of sixteen artists in Washington state to be awarded the honor, and one of eight in the literary arts category. Over 400 people applied for a fellowship.  Artist Trust is a not-for-profit arts organization that supports regional artists in their pursuits.  

"Fellowships award $7,500 to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and demonstrated ability."  ~from the Artist Trust website

To read the list of other winning artists, please see the Artist Trust website or the press release in The Seattle Times.


Needless to say, she's very pleased and will be able to finish Midwest in Memoriam completely this summer and make a deep start into a new book.  A new book?  It's dazzling to consider.


Short-Story Month 2012: Day 24, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Page 24 of 1948 issue of The New Yorker
From original, in The New Yorker
"Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box." 

Of course, long before Hunger Games, there was Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," which is today's selection.  "The Lottery" takes place on a day unlike any day for the reader, but a day the village has seen year after year, the day when a name is drawn and one villager wins. . .

by Shirley Jackson
(also in audio version)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 23, The Still Point of the Turning World by Patricia Highsmith

Photograph of Patricia Highsmith wearing pearls on the cover of her collected work
Cover of
Nothing That Meets the Eye
"There is a small park, hardly more than a square, far over on the West Side in the lower Thirties, that is almost always deserted. A low iron fence runs around it, setting it off from a used car lot, a big redstone public dispensary of some sort, and the plain gray backs of shabby apartment buildings that share the same block with it." 

From the author of Strangers on a Train, and The Talented Mr. Ripley, and other novels, comes today's selected story.  Any number of the stories that appear in Highsmith's uncollected works, Nothing That Meets the Eye, could be here.  Highsmith is a master story-writer, and it is a current shame that this collection hasn't yet won a major award.

 "The Still Point of the Turning World" is the story of two mothers who are strangers to each other and who bring their children to play at a park; the story follows the plot imagined by one mother about the other.  Highsmith takes a common situation and makes of it a masterpiece of assumption and despair.

by Patricia Highsmith
(somewhere between 1938 and 1949)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kore Press Finalist: How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble

A quick and lovely announcement:

Erin Pringle-Toungate's story, "How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble", was awarded the honor of being a finalist in the 2012 Kore Press Short Fiction Chapbook Award.  The judge, Karen Brennan, had this to say about the story:

"What I most admire about this fine story is the author’s ability to render hyper-dramatic—almost gothicmaterial with a beautifully orchestrated lyricism that never over-reaches itself.  Indeed, the story of the young girl grieving for her murdered sister is made even more poignant for its distant, almost oracular point of view, a point of view that allows the reader to glimpse not only the protagonist’s confusion and sorrow, but also the indifferent, soulless landscape in which she wanders.  A little Cormac McCarthy, a little Carson McCullers, 'How the Sun Burns' is full of dense atmosphere, apocalyptic overtones and heart."

Photograph of a pond behind a barbed wire fence with shadowed flowers
"Dark Pond" by Elliot Bennett, Used under CC license
The other two finalists were Carol Test and Rebecca Entel, and the winner was Mary Byrne, a writer originally from Ireland who now lives in France. Byrne will receive $1,000 and her story, "A Parallel Life" will be published in chapbook form by Kore Press.  Stay tuned to Kore Press ( so you can be the first in line to read Byrne's story.  If you absolutely cannot wait, then you can also find her work in Best Paris Stories

Pringle-Toungate's story will be in her next book, Midwest in Memoriam. You'll also be able to read the story in the Spring 2013 issue of minnesota review.

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 22, The Things They Left Behind by Stephen King

"The things I want to tell you about--
the ones they left behind--showed up 
in my apartment in August 2002. I'm sure
 of that, because I found most of them 
not long after I helped Paula Robeson 
with her air conditioner. Memory always 
needs a marker, and that's mine."

It would be a total fault not to include Stephen King in a celebration of National Short Story Month since he is one of the working masters of the short story.  Any number of his stories could be selected, but the reasoning for the selection of his story "The Things They Left Behind" are these: 1) It's one of King's more recent works, and she thinks, shows more his abilities than some of his recent longer works; and 2) it's one of the few creative works to deal with 9/11 in a smart and cathartic manner.

As with any of King's work, it is difficult if not impossible to find online; even when magazines publish King, his work is available only to those who have paying subscriptions to that magazine (and as well it should be, regardless of who the writer is).  "The Things They Left Behind" is from King's collection Just After Sunset, and the title links to the story via the Google Preview for the collection.

by Stephen King

Monday, May 21, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 21, The Red House by Ian T. MacMillan

Photograph of a red house in the country
Red House by Mike Klein,
Used under CC license
She discovered today's story, "The Red House", in the 1997 edition of the O'Henry Prize Stories which was assigned in one of her college classes (this is also the book where she first read Carol Shields).  She thinks she even wrote an essay about "The Red House", regarding its ending especially, which is fantastic in its brevity and poetry.  The story follows a quiet boy who lives in an isolated family with a strange father (this is totally based on her memory).

There is no excerpt because her copy of the prize stories was eaten her dog Gretta, then a puppy.  

For years, she has hunted for this writer while the story haunted her.  But he was difficult to find; perhaps because his last name has a typo on the Random House website ("MacMillian"), or perhaps because the story's title isn't listed in anywhere but three places online. But after some sleuthing, she has found out these important details: "The Red House" originally appeared in The Gettysburg Review; it appears in MacMillan's book Our People: Stories (2008), which has a publication year one year after his death; and in an interview with Karen I. Johnson, MacMillan had this to say about "The Red House": 

[Question by Johnson]
Two of these stories, “A Story of Water You Could Never Tell” 
and “The Red House” are not what I would consider traditional 
narratives.    How would you describe the style of these two stories 
and what led you to write in this style? 

[MacMillan's Response]
“The Red House” was an experiment in the use of second 
person (you).  It felt right, until I read some draft and saw 
the word ‘you’ too many times, so I began crossing them 
out, in effect crossing out subjects and verbs of a lot of 
sentences, which gave the narrative a kind of stream of 
consciousness quality.  The result enhances the tangibility 
of the experience, I think, and “A Story of Water You 
Could Never Tell” was a further exercise in the use of this 


Needless to say, this story is high up on her list of excellent stories, and thanks to National Short Story month and choosing a story a day, she has found its book and has ordered her copy. She hopes you will, too.

by Ian T. MacMillan,