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Short Stories August 30, 2009

Posted by skinbad in Literature.

Last week I was skimming a book of short essays Dorothy Parker wrote for the New Yorker. Parker has some great quotes. She’s very funny.  Since I’m still thinking about one of the essays, I guess I’ll post something in the hope that my gray matter will then free itself for other uses.

She said the best American short stories (the book was published in 1970) are:

She also praised Chekhov’s “The Darling.”

I read them all except Lardner’s. Conclusion? She likes stories where the men are men and the women (if they exist) are pretty dim. The only semi-deep thought that occurred to me from reading these came from The Killers–which seems kind of dated and mild, in a way. We would expect any self-respecting modern-day movie or book killer to be ruthless enough not to leave witnesses alive. Of course that would screw the plot up completely. Nick has to go see Ole Anderson and get a heaping dose o’ fatalism. Death is coming for all of us. We can lie in our room with our face to the wall or we can “make up our mind” to go out and live. Either way, you can’t run. It will find you. So why not meet it on your terms? She also said Hemingway wrote the shortest short story ever: “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.”

I’m having a hard time thinking of favorite short stories at the moment. The Storyteller by Saki is the only thing coming to mind. Have a nice Sunday.


1. Mrs. Peel - August 30, 2009

I always liked “The Most Dangerous Game.” “It’s a Good Life” and “To Serve Man” are pretty good as well. (I have actually never seen the Twilight Zone episodes in question.) “Nightfall” is also good, from what I remember. And of course there’s Twain.

The short story is really a uniquely American form of literature…

2. skinbad - August 30, 2009

Thank you for your pity comment. You are a nice person. I loved “The Most Dangerous Game. I used to check out “Alfred Hitchcock” short story books as a kid. He didn’t write any of them but I guess his name was used to move some merchandise. I read “The Birds” in one of those long before I ever saw the movie.

The short story is really a uniquely American form of literature. Really? I’ll have to ponder that.

3. BrewFan - August 30, 2009

A great contemporary short story writer is Stephen King.

4. Mrs. Peel - August 30, 2009

Oh yeah, I have two Alfred Hitchcock Presents collections of excellent short stories. There’s one that is so f’n scary that I can’t reread it to this day. It’s bizarre, because nothing even happens – a dude is on a cruise liner and senses an evil presence on a particular deck chair – and yet it scared the everlovin’ crap out of me. Even just looking at the first page used to scare me, and I would flip quickly past it to the next story.

Oh, one of those collections also has the novella “The Fly.” Much, much better than any of the film adaptations.

Yep, we Americans pretty much perfected the short story, with a little help from the Russians. KC knows much more about it than I do, I’m sure. Where is she these days anyway?

I recently read a Neil Gaiman short story, “Snow, Glass, Apples.” It was well-written, but too much on the creepy side for me to really enjoy. You know?

5. Sobek - August 30, 2009

You can’t spell “shortp storey” without the letters P-O-E.

The Cask of Amontillado, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart, Metzengerstein, The Gold Bug, Murders in the Rue Morgue … I could go on and on.

6. Sobek - August 30, 2009

Isaac Asimov’s “Green Patches” is really interesting.

7. Sobek - August 30, 2009

H.P. Lovecraft’s shport stories are cool.

8. Michael - August 30, 2009

KC knows much more about it than I do, I’m sure. Where is she these days anyway?

She’s shackled to the dank stone walll in my basement and doing OK. She said to say hi.

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