Top Ten Tuesday:
Titles of some short stories I have read and enjoyed.
1. "Cannibalism in the Cars" by Mark Twain. It can serve as a satire for our political system and politicians who seemingly eat each other up. Written in 1868. My mother read it aloud to us, her assembled children, one time during a power outage. We sat in the dark, transfixed by her voice, and the silly story. It has remained an all-time favorite of mine since that time. Want to listen it? Click the link.
2. "Reader, She Married Me" by Sally Vickers, found in a collection of stories edited by Tracey Chevalier, called Reader, I Married Him. Fans will recognize the title of the book as the last line of Jane Eyre. Sally Vickers writes the Jane Eyre story from Mr. Rochester's point of view. It was a sort of clearing the record for him. He wanted the record to show that he no longer loved Jane Eyre and didn't want to marry her but did it because he'd been such a lout in the beginning. Tee-hee. I love stories which stand the classic on its head.
3. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Connor, found in a collection of short stories by the same name. The opening line of this story sets the stage for bad things to come: "The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida." O'Connor is famous for her writing style, Southern Gothic. The stories are so creepy, but she prepares the readers a long the way so by the conclusion we are ready for what happens. If you haven't read any O'Connor, I encourage you to change that as soon as you can.
4. "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor. This story, found in the same collection, is as hilarious as the above one is horrifying.
5. "Breaking and Entering" by Sherman Alexie, found in War Dances, a collection of essays, short stories, and poems. B&E forces us to face the many angles of racism. A young African American teenager breaks into a home to steal whatever he can. The homeowner, a Native American, is working from home and surprises the burglar armed with a baseball bat for protection. The would-be thief lunges at the homeowner, who swings the bat and connects with the young man's head, killing him. Suddenly the victim becomes perpetrator...an assumedly white man taking another black teen's life. When the man attempts to correct the record about his own race, he appears calloused and self-centered. Everything goes wrong.
6. "A Christmas Story" by Jean Shepherd. We all love this "story" because of the movie we watch every year at Christmas time by the same name, but actually the story/novella is made up of several stories found in different collections by Shepherd: In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters. This mash-up of stories to make a new thing we know as "The Christmas Story" is very, very funny. (I bet the originals are too!)
7. "The Department of Nothing" by Colin Firth, found in a collection of short stories edited by Nick Hornby called Speaking With the Angel. The project was designed to make money for a school where Hornby's autistic son, Danny, attended. Firth, yes, the actor who played Mr. Darcy, has been "writing and putting stuff in a drawer" for years but The Department of Nothing is his first published piece.
8. "Nipple Jesus" by Nick Hornby, is a hilarious story also included in the Speaking With the Angel collection. Even though I wouldn't call it a favorite story, I had to mention it because of the title. As you can imagine the story is quite memorable.
9. "No Room at the Inn" by Leo Buscalia, from Seven Stories of Christmas Love. This sweet Christmas story just melts my heart. The author spends Christmas in Bali where the natives are aghast when they learn that there was no room for Jesus and Mary in the inn the night that Jesus is born. There is no way someone from Bali wouldn't just scoot over and make room for everyone. This story is worth a yearly reread.
10. "Jane Austen Over the Styx" by Victoria Owens. This short story is in a collection called Dancing With Mr. Darcy:Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House. I loved this whole collection. This story just makes me smile because in it Jane Austen is having to plead her case for the way she wrote her characters to the judges: Mrs. Norris, Catherine duBourgh, Mrs. Ferrars, Mrs. Bennet, and others. It is very clever. I read this collection while on a European trip which, I think, increased my pleasure in it.
11. "Moses Found Among the Rushes" by James Herriot found in his book called James Herriot's Cat Stories. I could actually put all of James Herriot's books and stories on this list. They are all based on his experiences living as a country veterinarian in Britain in the early part of the twentieth century. They are all such simple, loving stories. This collection includes only stories about cats. But the original books included all types of animals. In this story, a cat found alone and near death in the reeds (rushes) is named Moses, a Biblical reference, based on the similarities to where they were both found as babies.
12. "The Best Christmas Pageant" by Barbara Robinson. Before this story adapted into a fairly well known book, it was published as a short story in McCall's magazine (circa 1967.) My mother got a copy of the magazine and read it aloud every Christmas to the family until the book was published. Then she read the whole book aloud. I sometimes still repeat phrases to my family that are not in the book but were in the original short story. Very funny and charming.
13. "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx, from Close Range:Wyoming Stories. This is such a heart-breaking story about two men who are not allowed by societal mores to be together even though they love each other.
14. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I probably read this is high school, it has deeply touched me because of its feminist message of what happens when a woman is dominated by a man.
15. "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. Okay, I am still creeped-out about this one. In fact, all of Poe's stories scare me.
16. "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. I saw the movie, starring Tom Cruise, first then went back and read the short story. They are different enough it is worth taking a look at the original. It is found in The Complete Stories by Philip K. Dicks.
I hadn't realized, until I compiled this list, just how much I do enjoy reading short stories. I often travel with short stories collections because I can consume one story a day and not get bogged down in a long, detailed book.
Do you have any favorite short stories or story collecitons I should consider reading?