Thursday, May 31, 2012

In Closing: National Short Story Month 2012

We've spent the month of May here at What She Might Think showcasing a story a day in celebration of National Short Story Month.  Rather than having a story-for-today, here is the list of every selected story, along with a link to its original post (and from there, a link to the story's text).

Day 1-4: "Diagnostic Drift" by Michael Martone
Day 5: "The Brewsters" by Laura Ellen Scott
Centennial Statue by Alan Cotrill, at
Coshocton, Ohio Public Library
Day 6: "The Juniper Tree" (folkstory, no author)
Day 7: "All the Anne Franks" by Erik Hoel
Day 8: "Roots" by Chadwick Redden
Day 9: "Concerning Ghosts" by Michael Stewart
Day 10: "Mirrors" by Carol Shields
Day 11: "The Red Bow" by George Saunders
Day 12: "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
             by Joyce Carol Oates
Day 14: "Hands" by Sherwood Anderson
Day 15: "For Sale" attributed to Ernest Hemingway
Day 16: "Of Missing Persons" by Jack Finney
Day 17: "Old Lady Lloyd" by L.M. Montgomery
Day 18: "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
Day 19: "The Baby-Sitter" by Robert Coover
Day 20: "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville
Day 21: "The Red House" by Ian T. MacMillan
Day 22: "The Things They Left Behind" by Stephen King
Day 23: "The Still Point of the Turning World" by Patricia Highsmith
Day 24: "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
Day 25: "Show-and-Tell" by George Singleton
Day 26: "The Daredevil's Wife" by Tom Noyes
Day 27: "Story About the Body" by Robert Hass
Day 28: "Speaking of Courage" by Tim O'Brien
Day 29: "Inland Sea" by Stuart Dybek
Day 30: "The River" by Flannery O'Connor

This is not an ever-fixed list.  Certainly, some of the greats have been left out, such as Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Kate Chopin, Raymond Carver and many others.  Should they be on here?  Absolutely.  Next year, then.  Next year.  But this is a fine list, she thinks, of short stories and their writers--both living and not, whose work shows why the genre has continued, will continue, and should be celebrated this month and every day until it returns with flowers. 

If you chose a story for today, what would it be?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short-Story Month: Day 30, The River by Flannery O'Connor

"It occurred to him that he was lucky this time that they had found Mrs. Connin who would take you away for the day instead of an ordinary sitter who only sat where you lived or went to the park. You found out more when you left where you lived. He had found out already this morning that he had been made by a carpenter named Jesus Christ. Before he had thought it had been a doctor named Sladewell, a fat man with a yellow mustache who gave him shots and thought his name was Herbert, but this must have been a joke."

"North Georgia River" by Melissa,
Used under CC license
We're drawing toward the end of National Short Story Month, and have yet to feature a story by one of the best American writers, Flannery O'Connor.  

And, so, today's selection is her story "The River". "The River" follows a boy whose parents have hired a Southern fundamentalist--perhaps by mistake, as it seems--to watch him for the day.  She ends up taking the boy to a river baptism, a new experience for the boy who later returns to the river alone.  

Like nearly all of O'Connor's stories, although her own religiosity and tendency toward trying to save her readers through careful allegorical imagery and grotesque images, "The River" defies O'Connor's religious wish in the story and shows us complex characters in the strange situations that religion itself stages time and again.  Regardless of O'Connor's intentions, "The River" is an excellent story of the way humans try to control their own lives by controlling each other's and the terrible fiasco that comes from such behavior.  And the main character, "Bevel", is hilarious, too.  And he knows it.

"The Riverby
Flannery O'Connor

(link goes to a nearly full "preview" 
of the story on GoogleBooks)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Short-Story Month: Day 29, Inland Sea by Stuart Dybek

by Shirl, used under CC license
Today's selected story is two sentences long.  And the sentences are made to work so hard, but with a seeming lack of effort, that certainly one should wonder if this is poetry or prose.  Right now, it's categorized as flash fiction, but seems more of the imagist camp, of the William Carlos Williams club.  Regardless.

Were every sentence in fiction so well built, like the architecture of a ballerina's extended leg, well, then, that would be lovely. 

The story also was selected as part of the annual Wigleaf series, which is aimed at collecting the best flash fiction published in a given year, and where she discovered this.

Stuart Dybek

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)