So, everyone here likes stories about spinsters getting back a bit of their own, right? “The Bachelor’s Christmas” isn’t that, but thematically it’s a cross between that and Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Christmas. As you can probably imagine, I’m super into it. Read the rest of this entry ?
Posts Tagged ‘shortstories’
Check out the previous post in the series for stuff about short story series you’ve almost certainly heard of, and for my philosophy of short stories, which pretty much boils down to “they’re better when they come by the bookful and are all about the same character.”
These are the stories that I’ve written about here before. They’re in order from least to most awesome, which is not to say that the Our Square stories aren’t pretty good, or that Torchy isn’t a little higher on my list of favorite things ever than Emma McChesney. I mean, I put them in worst-to-best order by accident, and thought I might as well make a note of it. Read the rest of this entry ?
You know how sometimes your daily life saps your will to do anything you’re not actually required to do? So, yeah. That. But I wanted to drop by to talk about “The Fool’s Love Story”, which I read on the tail end of the Sabatini kick that started with my reread of Bardelys the Magnificent.
It looks like The Fool’s Love Story might have been Sabatini’s first published story — it’s the first listed on the uncollected stories list on rafaelsabatini.com, and…it reads young. It’s about a Hofknarr, or court jester, in a small German kingdom in the mid-17th century. He’s in love with a young woman who’s engaged to an unworthy Frenchman, and it doesn’t end too well for anybody, really, unless you count the fact that I was completely delighted by it. Which was why I wanted to say something about it, but probably not in the way you think.
This is the thing: this story is pretty terrible. The plot is ridiculous, the writing is more than ridiculous, and you’re sort of plopped down in the middle of a fully formed emotional situation that never really changes. Also, dying heroically and tragically tends to go over a little better if there’s a point to it. But it’s Sabatini, who pretty much always gets me where I live, and I was totally sold by the time I hit “lean, sardonic countenance,” halfway through the first sentence.
Basically, I suspect this is one for the Sabatini devotees — and I’d be interested to know if I’m right.
Of all the English classes I ever had, my 7th grade one was the best. And part of it was that my teacher was great, and part of it was that I realized that grammar is equal parts fun and fascinating — although I realize I may be alone on that one — but probably the single biggest factor was that we had to write an essay on a short story each week. And I could talk a lot about how helpful it was to have to churn out essays and learn to construct an argument and stuff, but what I’m here to talk about today is how much I hated the short stories.
Middle School and High School English classes do a lot to instill in kids the idea that serious literature is super depressing, and short stories, which tend to be sort of single-minded in pursuit of an idea, make it worse — at least with novels, there’s usually time and space to put in a few scenes that will make you laugh, or, you know, offer sidelights on a character that give you hope that they have inner resources to draw on and won’t spend the rest of their lives completely miserable. If they live to the end of the story, that is.
I mean, there were bright spots: “The Speckled Band.” Dorothy Parker. Vocabulary lessons. But I came out of Middle School English with the conviction that all short stories were terrible and that I would hate them forever, with a grudging exception for detective stories.
Anyway, the point of this is that for a long time I really believed I hated short stories — until a couple of years ago when I realized that I was reading short stories all the time, and loving them. It was just that they were short story series, character-driven and funny instead of literary and depressing. These days I get really excited when an author I’ve been enjoying turns out to have a series of short stories or two. So this is the first in what I expect to be a extremely rambling series of posts about those, and how much fun they are — starting with the super obvious. Read the rest of this entry ?
I blame Eleanor for the amount of Mary Roberts Rinehart I’ve been reading lately. Every time I move on to something else, she tells me which Rinehart she’s reading and I get jealous.
Anyway, I read Love Stories last week. I was pretty sure I hadn’t read it before, but the first story seemed awfully familiar. It turns out I’d already read it in a magazine. But it holds up well. I mean, it’s Rinehart. Of course it does.
This book is kind of a precursor to the hospital romance comics from the 1970s that I read at my grandmother’s apartment when I was younger. All but the last two stories are set in hospitals, and all but the last one are romances. Lots of doctors and nurses. Lots of incidents recycled from or for K. Read the rest of this entry ?
In his two books of “Our Square” stories, Our Square and the People in it and From a Bench in Our Square, Samuel Hopkins Adams veers dangerously close to Eleanor Hallowell Abbott territory: everyone is named things like Cyrus the Gaunt, the Bonnie Lassie, the Little Red Doctor, or the Weeping Scion, and more than half the stories are adorable romances between peculiar young men and beautiful, wealthy young women, cookie cutter-like in their similarity. And if he never gets quite as twee as Abbott, he also doesn’t have her touch with hysteria.
But that’s not to say that the stories aren’t a lot of fun. Barring a few missteps and a dead dog, they are. Read the rest of this entry ?
Until recently I knew Mary Cholmondeley only as the author of Red Pottage, a bestselling turn of the century novel that I feel like I ought to read — so much so that I now sort of don’t want to read it. Then I came across a short story of hers in Pearson’s Magazine and, as I skimmed past it, read just enough to be intrigued.
That story was “The Pitfall,” and I tracked it down in Moth and Rust. I often find, with authors from this era, that what appear to be books of short stories are more often novellas bound with a few extra stories to make them book-length, and that’s the case here. “The Pitfall” is the last story in the book, and possibly the most interesting, because its protagonist is a bit of an antiheroine. Cholmondeley lets us know right away that Lady Mary Carden is dull and conventional and possibly a bit of a hypocrite, but she also shows us how to sympathize with her, and we do — or I did, anyway — much more than we would with a character whose author wasn’t aware that she possessed those qualities. And then Cholmondeley slowly leads Lady Mary to a cruel and indefensible act, and it’s horrible, but interesting. Read the rest of this entry ?
The Contrast is the first book of Elinor Glyn’s short stories I’ve read, and it’s a pretty mixed bag. There are five stories in all; “Fragments” is the shortest and “The Point of View” by far the longest.
In no particular order, except that I saved the best for last (and by best I mean worst): Read the rest of this entry ?
I recently acquainted myself with Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah’s blind detective. The Carrados stories were first published in the Strand Magazine, alongside the Sherlock Holmes stories, and were apparently just as popular. And actually, they’re pretty good. They’re a little too fantastical, probably, but in such an entertaining way that I hesitate to call that a complaint. Read the rest of this entry ?
I’ve been on a crazy Edna Ferber kick for the past week, starting with a reread of the Emma McChesney books. Up until last week, my knowledge of Ferber was restricted to Emma McChesney, Dinner at Eight, and Giant, so I wasn’t surprised to find that she doesn’t always feel called upon to produce a happy ending, but there’s “Let’s not have a happy ending this time,” and there’s “Buttered Side Down is kind of a perfect name for this collection of stories.” Although, to be fair, the collection Cheerful — By Request is approximately as depressing. Read the rest of this entry ?
I have now read all of the Torchy books, and realized two things:
1. The bibliography I was looking at is wrong, and The House of Torchy comes between Wilt Thou Torchy and Torchy and Vee, not after Torchy as a Pa. It’s important to know that, too, because if you skip it you go straight from Torchy getting married yo Vee to Torchy living on Long Island with Vee and an infant son and a French cook/gardener, and doing his work for the Corrugated Trust under the auspices of the US Army.
I kind of love it when authors deal with wars by having their series characters reassigned to their usual jobs by the Army.
2. Torchy and Vee are the best early 20th century fictional couple ever. It’s not just that they talk to each other about all sorts of things, that they laugh together, that they like each other as much as they love each other but done always understand each other. It’s also that Vee, the beautiful heiress, wasn’t even the tiniest bit reserved or distant from the beginning. And that Torchy kisses her pretty early on in their friendship (and frequently thereafter), and she doesn’t really get upset. And that they’re always touching each other–they hug, and hold hands, and Vee rumples Torchy’s hair–and it’s almost shocking, because I’ve never before come across fictional characters from this era who were so casually affectionate. It’s kind of great.
After I finished The Circular Staircase and The House of a Thousand Candles, I thought I’d continue on a Mary Roberts Rinehart kick. And I liked Tish, one of her books of stories about an eccentric spinster and her friends, but it didn’t make me want to read more Tish books. It made me want to reread Torchy.
Torchy is, like Tish, a character in a long-running series of short stories. But his are better than hers. I meant just to reread Torchy, but once I was done with that, I read Trying Out Torchy, On With Torchy, Torchy, Private Sec., and Wilt Thou Torchy and now I’m in the middle of Torchy and Vee. Read the rest of this entry ?
There are, apparently, three books of stories about Emma McChesney, a travelling saleswoman, but I wish there were more. They’re by Edna Ferber, and they are…kind of fantastic, actually. I was skeptical, and I shouldn’t have been.
Emma McChesney is in her mid thirties, but looks younger. She has a teenage son named Jock, who has both faults and flashes of brilliance. She travels for the T.A. Buck Featherloom Skirt Company, and she is almost, but not quite, too good to be true. Read the rest of this entry ?
I hadn’t really meant to read another Eleanor Hallowell Abbott book just yet, but I was looking at Project Gutenberg’s list of this week’s updates, and the first item on the list was Fairy Prince and Other Stories. Short stories are nice because they require such a small commitment, and I thought I would read one or two in order to take a break from Peter and Jane, but then, of course, I ended up reading the whole thing.
The title is somewhat misleading, because all the short stories are about the same family ( Mother: has brown eyes; Father: likes tulips; Rosalee, 17: is pretty; Carol, male, 11: is dumb — literally; Ruthy, 9: is a terrible narrator) and take place in chronological order. Read the rest of this entry ?
After all those Ruth Fielding books, I was kind of sick of girls, so I set out to find a fun boys’ book. I ended up reading The New Boy at Hilltop, and Other Stories, by Ralph Henry Barbour, except that I didn’t notice the subtitle at first, so I was kind of surprised when I got to what I thought was the second chapter and Kenneth Garwood wasn’t one of the characters. But it really is a boys’ book, so I’m not that disappointed.
Kenneth is the hero of the first story. He arrives at Hilltop, his new school, after Christmas, and is told by the principal that he’ll be rooming with Joseph Brewster, a model student. Ken is sure he’ll dislike Joe, and Joe is kind of upset when he gets back to school and finds that he has a roommate now. So of course they immediately get into a fight, and after that they’re friends.