Perhaps short stories are so memorable because "life is a handful of short stories, pretending to be a novel." Last week, we asked Red Roomers to blog about their favorite short stories.
I first discovered my favorite short stories in school. Maybe short stories are so popular to teach because students are more likely to read them between each class, or because teachers can fit more of them into a semester. I think it's also because they're such a compact form that you can learn everything there is to know about good writing in short stories. Several bloggers wrote about short stories they've taught or learned in school:
- Harrison Solow took a student's claim that a certain literary description was "the best" to find many more, and to remember A.S. Byatt's "Cold."
- C. B. Mosher teaches Julio Cortazar's "The Southern Thruway" because of the "mirror for us to see just what human Society is," and that makes it his "Favorite Short Story."
- As a 16-year-old, Delia Quigley had a formative moment when learning a Brer Rabbit story. Her entry, "A Short Story Perfomance," evokes her anticipation and excitement.
- Kimberly Jackson was hooked on great short stories and wanted to write one herself after her teacher introduced her to Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." She relates her wonder in "The Discovering of a Tell-Tale Heart."
- She was one of several bloggers who chose stories by Poe. Willington H. Monguí loved "Loss of Breath" so much he chose it for his bachelor's thesis. Find out why in "My Favorite Short Story."
Two bloggers stood out this week:
Of the tales about teaching and learning short stories, we were struck by Patricia Volonakis Davis's post about an inner-city middle school where many of her eighth-grade pupils were gang members. Her reading of Tobias Wolff's "The Chain" brought a stunning revelation. Don't miss "My Favorite Short Story."
Ibi Kaslik cites "Escapes," a short story by Joy Williams, as her favorite. Her connection with this "terrifying little masterpiece" with her experience as a child of alcoholics is heartrending and beautiful. Read "My Favorite Short Story." .
Love, death, humor, and the glue called family are the elements of Red Room author Christopher Meeks's short-story collections The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea (2006) and Months and Seasons (2008), both from White Whisker Press. Tales includes characters such as a famous playwright who faces a firestorm consuming the landscape; a reluctant man who attends a Halloween party as Dracula; and a New Yorker who thinks she's a chicken. For their excellent blogging, Patricia and Ibi will each receive signed copies of both.
Here are some other posts that caught our eye this week:
- In "A Pie, A Spoon," Jessica Barksdale Inclán remembers how a short story showed her how "people don't have to be so solid, so drawn in the lines. There is possibility that things can be different."
- For Mara Buck, a story like D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" continues to "have a subliminal effect on your own style, merely a wisp at the back of your mind." Read "Riding For Life."
- John Oughton's "Dizzying Perspective," on the writing of Jorge Luis Borges, sparked a fascinating discussion of how different authors alternate between concrete and abstract expression.
- It's hard to tell where first-time blogger Marge Jameson's appreciation for particular short stories ends and her memories of moving a lot as a child and again now begin in her bittersweet post "Goodbyes."
- K. M. Soehnlein's favorite, "Emergency" by Denis Johnson, sounds like a wild ride that's also a master class in what makes a short story work. Read "A Knife in the Eye."
- Chris Blanc (another first-time blogger) isn't ashamed to admit that he grew up hating Hemingway. Find out how one story changed his mind when he discovered "The short happy Life of Francis Macomber."
- Lauren John wasn't the only blogger to cite Nikolai Gogol, but she's certainly the only one to declare "Gogol is Not a Search Engine: Unstitching 'The Overcoat.'"
You can read all the My Favorite Short Story blog posts here. I hope you'll choose your favorite, and leave a comment letting the blogger know why you enjoyed it. Thanks as always for blogging!
-Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room