March, Week 2: Suggested Reading List from Charles May’s The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice, Part I

Chopin, Kate “Desiree’s Baby” The prevailing   belief was that she had been purposely left by a party of Texans, whose   canvas-covered wagon, late in the day, had crossed the ferry that Coton Mais had kept, just below the plantation.
Achebe, Chinua “Dead Men’s Path” Dead men do not require footpaths.
Aiken, Conrad “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” All one could do was to laugh embarrassedly, pretend to be a   little ashamed, apologize, and take a sudden and somewhat disingenuous   interest in what was being done or said.
Aldrich, James “Marjorie Daw” If we were shipwrecked together on an uninhabited island–let me suggest a tropical island, for it costs no more to be picturesque–I would build her a bamboo hut, I would fetch her bread-fruit and coconuts, I would fry yams for her, I would lure the ingenuous turtle and make her nourishing  soups, but I wouldn’t make love to her–not under eighteen months.
Anderson, Sherwood “Death in the Woods” All country and small-town people have seen such old women, but  no one knows much about them.
Anderson, Sherwood “Hands” Wing Biddlebaum, forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts, did not think of himself as in any way part of the life of the town where he had lived for twenty years.
Anderson, Sherwood “I Want to Know Why” They were homely too, except one who was tall and looked a little like the gelding Middlestride, but not clean like him, but with a hard   ugly mouth.
Anderson, Sherwood “I’m a Fool” My grandfather was Welsh and over in the old country, in Wales he was–but never mind that.
Babel, Isaac “My First Goose” The dying sun, round and yellow as a pumpkin, was giving up its   roseate ghost to the skies.
Baldwin, James “Sonny’s Blues” So we drove along, between the green of the park and the stony, lifeless elegance of hotels  and   apartment buildings, toward the vivid, killing streets of our childhood.
Bambara, Toni Cade “The Lesson” “You wanna who that costs what?” she’d say, cocking   her head to the side to get a better view of the hole in my head.
Barth, John “Lost in the Funhouse” In a short story about Ocean City, Maryland, during World War II, the author could make use of the image of sailors on leave in the penny arcades and shooting galleries, sighting through the crosshairs of toy   machine guns at swastika’d subs, while out in the black Atlantic a U-boat  skipper squints through his periscope at real ships outlined by the glow of  penny arcades.
Barthelme, Donald “A Shower of Gold” “Let me answer your question with another question,”   Miss Arbor said.
Barthelme, Donald “The Balloon” This ability of the balloon to shift its shape, to change,   was very pleasing, especially to people whose lives were rather rigidly   patterned, persons to whom change, although desired, was not available.
Beattie, Anne “Janus” A bowl was a poor conductor of electricity: it would not  be hit by lightening.
Bierce, Ambrose “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds  of people, and gentlemen are not excluded.
Borges, Jorge Luis “Funes the Memorious” Every word had a particular figure attached to it, a sort  of marker; the later ones were extremely complicated…I tried to explain to Funes that his rhapsody of unconnected words was exactly the opposite of a   number system. (translation Andrew Hurley)
Borges, Jorge Luis “Pierre Menard, Author of Quixote” In spite of those three obstacles, Menard’s fragmentary   Quixote is more subtle than Cervantes’.
Boyle, T. Coraghessan “Greasy Lake” Behind me, the girl’s screams rose in intensity,   disconsolate, incriminating, the screams of the Sabine women, the Christian  martyrs, Anne Frank dragged from the garret.
Camus, Albert “The Guest” This is the way the region was, cruel to live in, even without men–who didn’t  help matters either.
Capote, Truman “A Tree of Night” The tale that followed was baffling and pointless: Kay did not  bother to listen
Carver, Raymond “Cathedral” But she was in love with the guy, and he was in love with  her, etc.
Carver, Raymond “Why Don’t You Dance?”  ”Wouldn’t it be funny if,” the girl said and grinned and didn’t finish.
Cather, Willa “Paul’s Case” His eyes were remarkable for a certain hysterical brilliancy,  and he continually used them in a conscious, theatrical sort of way, peculiarly offensive in a boy.
Cheever, John “The Country Husband” She turned and walked away from him, so damaged in spirit that she limped.
Cheever, John “The Enormous Radio” The dials flooded with a malevolent green light, and in the distance she heard the music of a piano quartet.
Cheever, John “The Swimmer” It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around  saying, “I drank too much last night.”
Chekhov, Anton “Gooseberries” And all this Ivan Ivanovitch said with a pitiful, imploring  smile, as though he were asking him a personal favour.
Chekhov, Anton “Misery” Just as the young man had been thirsty for water, he thirsts for speech.
Chekhov, Anton “The Lady with the Pet Dog” And two peculiarities of a well-dressed Yalta crowd were very   conspicuous: the elderly ladies were dressed like young ones, and there were  great numbers of generals.
Conrad, Joseph “The Secret Sharer” And suddenly I rejoiced in the great security of the sea as   compared with the unrest of the land, in my choice of that untempted life moral beauty by the absolute straightforwardness of its appeal and by the singleness of its purpose.
Coover, Robert “The Babysitter” Two of them are talking about mothers they’ve salted away in   rest homes.
Crane, Stephen “The Blue Hotel” The entire prelude had in it a tragedy greater than the tragedy of action, and this aspect was accentuated by the long, mellow cry of the   blizzard, as it sped the tumbling and wailing flakes into the black abyss of the south.
Crane, Stephen “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” “It means, my friend,” he answered, as he came into the saloon,   “that for the next two hours this town won’t be a health resort.”
Crane, Stephen “The Open Boat” If I am going to be drowned– if I am going to be   drowned–if I am going to be drowned, why, in the  name of the seven mad gods who rule the  sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?
Defoe, Daniel “A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal” And why we should dispute matter of fact, because we cannot solve things of which we can have no certain or demonstrative notions, seems   strange to me; Mrs. Bargrave’s authority and sincerity alone would have been   undoubted in any other case.
Dinesen, Isak “Sorrow-Acre” The thin grey line of a road, winding across the plain   and up and down hills, was the fixed materialisation of human longing, and of   the human notion that it is better to be in one place than another.
Doyle, Arthur Conan “The Adventure of the Specled Band” Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the tropics.
Faulkner, William “A Rose for Emily” “But garages and cotton gins had encroached and   obliterated even the august names of that neighbourhood; only Miss Emily’s   house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton  wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores.
Faulkner, William “Barn Burning” There was something about his wolflike independence and even  courage when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers, as   if they got from his latent ravening ferocity not so much a sense of dependability   as a feeling that his ferocious conviction in the rightness of his own   actions would be of advantage to all whose interest lay with his.
Fitzgerald, Scott F. “Babylon Revisited” The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because   the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow.
Freeman, Mary Wilkins “A New England Nun” She ate quite heartily, though in a delicate, pecking way; it seemed almost surprising that any considerable bulk of the food should   vanish.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” A spectacle like that, full of so much human truth and with such   a fearful lesson, was bound to defeat without even trying that of a haughty   angel who scarcely deigned to look at mortals.
Gass, Wiliam H. “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country” Age does not make concrete genial, and aspahlt is always – like   America – twenty-one, until it breaks up in crumbs like stale cake.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins “The Yellow Wallpaper” On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of   sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to a normal  mind.
Glaspell, Susan “A Jury of Her Peers” But if Mrs. Peters didn’t look like a sheriff’s wife, Peters made it up in looking like a sheriff.
Gogol, Nikolai “The Overcoat” He liked to produce powerful effects, liked to stun utterly and suddenly, and then to glance sideways to see what face the stunned person would put on the matter.
Goodwin, Gail “A Sorrowful Woman” She tried these personalities on like costumes, then discarded them.
Gordimor, Nadine “The Train from Rhodesia” All up and down the length of the train in the dust the  artists sprang, walking bent, like performing animals, the better to exhiit   the fantasy held towards the faces on the train.
Greene, Graham “The Basement Room” Baines wasn’t really happy; he was only watching happiness from close to instead of from far away.
Harte, Brett “Tennessee’s Partner” Both were fearless, both self-possessed and independent; and   both types of a civilization that in the seventeenth century would have been called heroic, but, in the nineteenth, simply “reckless.”
Hawthorne, Nathaniel “My Kinsmen, Major Molineaux” He then walked forward into the town, with as light a step, as   if his day’s journey had not already exceeded thirty miles, and with as eager   an eye as if he were entering London city, instead of the little metropolis   of a New England colony.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel “Rappaccini’s Daughter” If not too refined, at all events too remote, too shadowy, and   unsubstantial in his modes of development to suit the taste of the latter   class, and yet too popular to satisfy the spiritual or metaphysical   requisitions of the former, he must necessarily find himself without an audience, except here and there an individual or possibly an isolated clique.
“That old woman taught me my catechism,” said the young man; and there was a world of meaning in this simple comment.
Hemingway, Ernest “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” “You should have killed yourself last week,” he said   to the deaf man.
Hemingway, Ernest “Big Two-Hearted River” In the swamp fishing was a tragic adventure.
Hemingway, Ernest “Hills Like White Elephants” ‘Would you please please please please please please please   stop talking?’
Hemingway, Ernest “The Killers” Their faces were different, but they were dressed like   twins.
Henry, O. “The Gift of the Magi” Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and   the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent   imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.
Hoffman, E.T.A. “The Sandman”  Do you not then believe   that even in free, cheerful, careless minds, here may dwell the suspicion of   some dread power, which endeavours to destroy us in our own selves?
Hurston, Zora Neale “Spunk” Ah bet he’s wore out half a dozen Adam’s apples since Spunk’s   been on the job with Lena.
Irving, Washington “Rip Van Winkle” A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered   a tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed.
Irving, Washington “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our  villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap and turn   themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled   away from the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon.
Jackson, Shirley “The Lottery” “They grinned at one another humorlessly and   nervously.”
James, Henry “The Beast and the Jungle” He had gone in late to see her, but evening hadn’t settled and   she was presented to him in that long fresh light of waning April days which   affects us often with a sadness sharper than the greyest hours of autumn.
James, Henry “The Real Thing” It was in their faces, the blankness, the deep intellectual   repose of the twenty years of country-house visiting which had given them   pleasant intonations.
Joyce, James “Araby” We walked through the flaring streets, jostled by drunken men   and bargaining women, amid the curses of labourers, the shrill litanies of   shop-boys who stood on guard by the barrels of pigs’ cheeks, the nasal   chanting of street-singers, who sang a come-all-you about O’Donovan Rossa, or a ballad about the troubles in our native land.
Joyce, James “The Dead”  He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous well-meaning   sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own clownish lusts,   the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror.
Kafka, Franz “A Country Doctor” If they use me for sacred purposes, I let that happen to me as well.  (translation: Ian Johnston)
Kafka, Franz “The Hunger Artist” Apart from the changing groups of spectators there were also   constant observers chosen by the public—strangely enough they were usually   butchers—who, always three at a time, were given the task of observing the   hunger artist day and night, so that he didn’t get anything to eat in some  secret manner.
Kafka, Franz “The Metamorphosis” He felt himself included once again in the circle of humanity   and was expecting from both the doctor and the locksmith, without   differentiating between them with any real precision, splendid and surprising results.
Kipling, Rudyard “The Man Who Would be King” Englishmen are not usually softened by appeals to the memory   of their mothers; but for certain reasons, which will be fully apparent, I   saw fit to agree.
Lardner, Ring “Haircut” The most of them had drank plenty of gin, and they was a rough   bunch even when sober.
Lawrence, D.H. “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter” Mabel looked at him with her steady, dangerous eyes, that   always made him uncomfortable, unsettling his superficial ease.
Lawrence, D.H. “The Rocking-Horse Winner” “Because we’re the poor members of the family,” said   the mother.
London, Jack “To Build a Fire” Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty   degrees below zero.
Malamud, Bernard “The Magic Barrel” He smelled frankly of fish, which he loved to eat, and although   he was missing a few teeth, his presence was not displeasing, because of an   amiable manner curiously contrasted with mournful eyes.
Mann, Thomas “Disorder and Early Sorrow” He knows that history professors do not love history because it   is
something that comes to pass, but only because it is something that has come   to pass; that
they hate a revolution like the present one because they feel it is lawless,   incoherent,
irrelevant-in a word, unhistoric; that their hearts belong to the coherent,   disciplined,
historic past.
Mansfield, Katherine “The Fly” All the same, we cling to our last pleasures as the tree clings   to its last leaves.
Mason, Bobbie Ann “Shiloh” “He can only think of that war as a board game with plastic  soldiers.”
Maupassant, Guy de “Madame Tellier’s Excursion”  It was quite twenty leagues from Fecamp to   Virville, and for a peasant twenty leagues on land are more than is crossing   the ocean to an educated person.
Maupassant, Guy de “The Necklace” At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling   carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were   ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.
McCullers, Carson “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud” The spinner ate breakfast there every morning, but the better Leo knew his customers the stingier he treated them.
Melville, Herman “Bartleby the Scrivener” “Very good, Bartleby,” said I, in a quiet sort of   serenely severe self-possessed tone, intimating the unalterable purpose of  some terrible retribution very close at hand.
Merimee, Prosper “Mateo Falcone” The child’s face clearly showed the struggle between personal   greed and the traditional claims of solidarity against the authorities that   was raging within him.
Nabakov, Vladimir “Signs and Symbols” Aunt Rosa, a fussy, angular, wild-eyed old lady, who had lived   in a tremulous world of bad news, bankruptcies, train accidents, cancerous   growths–until the Germans put her to death, together with all the people she   had worried about.
Oates, Joyce Carol “Where are you Going, Where Have You Been?” His eyes were like chips of broken glass that catch the light in an amiable way.
O’Connor, Flannery “A Good Man is Hard to Find” The horrible thought she had had before the accident was that   the house she had remembered so vividly was not in Georgia but   in Tennessee.
O’Connor, Flannery “Good Country People” Get rid of the salt of the earth,” she said, “and let’s eat.”
Olsen, Tillie “I Stand Here Ironing” She was a child of anxious, not proud, love.
Ozick, Cynthia “The Shawl” Magda had never seen anyone laugh.
Paley, Grace “A Conversation with my Father” In order to keep him from feeling guilty (because guilt is the stony heart of nine tenths of all clinically diagnosed cancers in America   today, she said), and because she had always believed in giving bad habits   room at home where one could keep an eye on them, she too became a junkie.
Poe, Edgar Allan “The Cask of Amontillado” My heart grew sick–on account of the dampness of the catacombs.
Poe, Edgar Allan “The Fall of the House of Usher”  A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and   luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely moulded chin,   speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a   more than web-like softness and tenuity; these features, with an inordinate   expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.
Poe, Edgar Allan “The Murders of the Rue Morgue” Nevertheless, that he failed in the solution of this mystery, is by no means that matter for wonder which he supposes it; for, in truth, our   friend the Prefect is somewhat too cunning to be profound.
Poe, Edgar Allan “The Tell-Tale Heart” It is impossible to tell how first the idea entered my brain;   but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.
Poe, Edgar Allan “The Purloined Letter” With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the   ‘Pagan fables’ are believed, and the inferences are made, not so much through   lapse of memory, as through an unaccountable addling of the brains.
Porter, Katerine Anne “Flowering Judas” Braggioni is cruel to everyone, with a kind of specialized   insolence, but he is so vain of his talents, and so sensitive to slights, it   would require a cruelty and vanity greater than his own to lay a finger on   thevast cureless would of his self-esteem.
Porter, Katerine Anne “The Grave” “Even if it had once contained a coffin for years upon   years, when the coffin was gone a grave was just a hole in the ground.”
Pushkin, Alexander “The Queen of Spades” The long winter night passed away imperceptibly, and it was five   o’clock in the morning before the company sat down to supper.
Roth, Philips “The Conversion of the Jews” It was the attitude of a dictator, but one–the eyes confessed   all–whose personal valet had spit neatly in his face.
Silko, Leslie Marmon “Yellow Woman” Because she is from out of time past and I live now and   I’ve been to school and there are highways and pickup trucks that Yellow Woman never saw.
Singer, I.B. “Gimpel the Fool” I thought: No bread will ever be baked from this dough.
Steinbeck, John “The Crysanthemums” The laughter had disappeared from his face and eyes the moment   his laughing voice ceased.
Steinbeck, John “The Flight” Mama Torres, a lean, dry woman with ancient eyes, had  ruled the farm for ten years, ever since her husband tripped over a stone in the field one day and fell full length on a rattlesnake.
Stockton, Frank “The Lady or the Tiger” When the people gathered together on one of the great trial  days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a   hilarious wedding.
Thurber, James “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips,   he faced the firing squad; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter   Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.
Tieck, Ludwig “Der Blonde Eckbert” The most marvelous was confused with the most ordinary-the   world around him bewitched-no thought, no memory was under his control.
Tolstoy, Leo “The Death of Ivan Illych” She began to wish that he would die; yet she did not   want him to die because then his salary   would cease.
Turgenev, Ivan “Bezhin Meadow” He was an uncouth lad, there is no denying it, and yet I liked   him for all that: he had an intelligent, frank look, and in his voice too   there was a note of authority.
Twain, Mark “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” Maybe you understand frogs and maybe you don’t understand ‘em;   maybe you’ve had experience, and maybe you ain’t only a amature, as it were.
Updike, John “A & P” I forgot to say he thinks he’s going to be manager some   sunny day, maybe in 1990 when it’s called the Great Alexandrov and Petrooshki Tea Company or something.
Walker,   Alice “To Hell with Dying” He was like a piece of   rare and delicate china which was always being saved from breaking and which   finally fell.
Welty,   Eudora “A Worn Path”  ’Seem like there is chains   about my feet, time I get this far,’ she said, in the voice of argument old   people keep to use with themselves.
Welty,   Eudora “Death of a Travelling   Salesman” The time did not seem to clear   the noon hurdle and settle into
soft afternoon.
Welty,   Eudora “Why I Live at the   P.O.” But this would be the day he was   drinking that prescription, the Fourth of July.
Williams,   William Carlos “The Use of Force” At that I ground my teeth in   disgust.
Wright,   Richard “The Man Who Was Almost a   Man” Ahead the long rails were   glinting in the moonlight, stretching away, away to somewhere, somewhere   where he could be a man. …

 

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