Posts Tagged ‘shortstories’

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Christmas Stories: The Bachelor’s Christmas

December 13, 2013

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 ?

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Short story series #2: We’ve been here before

June 20, 2013

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 ?

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The Fool’s Love Story

October 4, 2012

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.

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Short Story Series #1: The super obvious

June 14, 2012

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 ?

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Love Stories

March 24, 2012

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 ?

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Our Square

January 15, 2012

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 ?

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Moth and Rust

August 17, 2011

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 ?

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