short stories


Author Rating: Not Yet Read

Charlie Pierce introduces an author new to us — Charles Portis, author of five novels:

  • 1966:  Norwood
  • 1968:  True Grit
  • 1979: The Dog of the South
  • 1985: Masters of Atlantis
  • 1991: Gringos

Additionally, a number of Portis’ essays and short fiction pieces have been published in one volume titled Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany.

You can read Portis’s The Forgotten River, one of the essays in Escape Velocity, here.

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Author Rating: C

Where I’m Calling From (read 4/14/2013) Meh

I wanted to like this, I really did. I was supposed to like this, I really was. While I found the writing engaging, the stories left me feeling that I neither liked nor cared about any of the characters.

Author Rating: A

Sherman Alexie is a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, Washington, who is both a poet and a novelist.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (read 9/17/11) Recommended

I knew I had to read this collection of short stories after seeing a Youtube video of a scene with Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire from the movie adaptation (Smoke Signals). The written stories did not disappoint.

Most of the stories are told first-person through Victor Joseph, a Spokane Indian. All of them are about life on the reservation and the difficulties of being an Indian in a white man’s world.

Author Rating: A

Tell Me a Riddle (read 1981)

I was totally blown away when I read this collection of four short stories as part of a women writers course. It is unfortunate that Olsen never had the leisure to complete her novel Yonnondio, published posthumously by her husband Jack, but she was a busy person who spent her life encouraging other writers and fighting for workers’ rights.

Author Rating: A

J.D. Salinger has died at age 91.

Mr. Salinger is survived by Ms. O’Neill; his son, Matt; his daughter, Margaret; and three grandsons. His literary agents said in their statement that “in keeping with his lifelong, uncompromising desire to protect and defend his privacy, there will be no service, and the family asks that people’s respect for him, his work and his privacy be extended to them, individually and collectively, during this time.”

“Salinger had remarked that he was in this world but not of it,” the statement said. “His body is gone but the family hopes that he is still with those he loves, whether they are religious or historical figures, personal friends or fictional characters.”

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

Nine Stories (1953)

  • “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (1948)
  • “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” (1948)
  • “Just Before the War with the Eskimos” (1948)
  • “The Laughing Man” (1949)
  • “Down at the Dinghy” (1949)
  • “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” (1950)
  • “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes” (1951)
  • “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” (1952)
  • “Teddy” (1953)

Franny and Zooey (1961)

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963)

Author Rating: A+

P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) is one of my all-time favorite writers. If I am feeling out of sorts, sitting down with “Plum,” as he was known to his friends and family, never fails to cheer me up.

Since there are so many, I am just going to list the titles I have read. They are all highly recommended.

Something New

Psmith, Journalist

Psmith In The City

The Man Upstairs (short stories)

Picadilly Jim

The Inimitable Jeeves

Ukridge

Carry On, Jeeves

The Small Bachelor

Meet Mr. Mulliner

Summer Lightning

Very Good, Jeeves

Big Money

Hot Water

Mulliner Nights (short stories)

Heavy Weather

The Luck of the Bodkins

Laughing Gas

Summer Moonshine

Quick Service

Bertie Wooster Sees It Through

French Leave

Cocktail Time

How Right You Are, Jeeves

Service With A Smile

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood

No Nudes Is Good Nudes

The Girl In Blue

Plum Pie (short stories)

I found four new ones and have two of them on order from the library! Sadly, the fourth is not in the system.

Indiscretions of Archie (read 11/30/11)

This is one of Wodehouse’s best. Published in 1921, this feels more like a collection of short stories which follow chronologically from the first where we are introduced to Archie Moffam (pronounced “Moom”), an impoverished upper-class young man from England who meets and marries Lucille Brewster, daughter of a millionaire hotelier. Archie’s father-in-law is less than thrilled with his new son-in-law but by the end, despite all the crazy adventures Archie has inadvertently involved him in, Daniel Brewster discovers Archie is not as bad as all that. Laugh-out-loud funny.

The Purloined Paperweight (reread 11/25/11)

Published in 1967, this is “mature” Wodehouse. Earlier Wodehouse, from the 1920s, is much more frenetic while his later work, from the 1960s, is more polished, and he never lost the ability to be extraordinarily entertaining. Interestingly, there is a character in this novel with the same name (Binstead) as a completely difference character in the 1921 Indiscretions of Archie, the only instance I have come across where Wodehouse did this. Anyone know of another?

A Wodehouse Bestiary

Barmy in Wonderland

Love Among The Chickens (read 2/3/2014)

I am, to my surprise, still finding Wodehouse novels I wasn’t aware of; and this one is a definite keeper. How is it not among his most popular? I don’t know. As the title infers, it’s a love story, but with Wodehouse the course of love is never straight or certain, with plenty of diversions along the way. Very entertaining.

Jill the Reckless (read 3/11/2014)

No, no, this is his best! How to choose? One of the great things about Wodehouse is his ability to create strong female characters. This novel is exhibit A. I am thrilled that so much of his out-of-print work is available either free or very low cost on Kindle.

Author Rating: A

Starlight 1 (read 5/17/09) recommended

Don’t wave off this collection of short stories put together by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, published in 1996, because they are labeled as “science fiction.” Few involve outer space, all are well written, many took my breath away.

Someone gets the bright idea to replace workers with zombies.

Only the Crazy Water Man can truly hear her.

The source of Emily Dickinson’s vision revealed.

Historical fiction of science.

The future tries to steal the present.

England is a land of magic.

The life saving qualities of validation.

To me, this is the only unsatisfying story in the book. A woman has sex with a man in her office.

I struggled to understand this story.

This one was also difficult for me to understand because I lack any real knowledge of Shakespeare and Greek tragedies, but what I did understand made me queasy.

Re-drawing the world.

People are just not very nice.

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