Monday, April 20, 2009

Short Story Monday - April 20

For this week's Short Story Monday, I decided to read a couple stories other participants have recommended. Both John and Eva read stories by Saki last week. I've never read Saki and this
seemed a good time to start. Since Eva posted a link for "Quail Seeds" along with her review, I printed it out and began reading. The story is about a small grocer lamenting the fact that shoppers seem to need more than just food. They need a shopping 'experience'... and he decides to give them one! This fun, light-hearted story was a delight to read. Other Saki stories will certainly be featured in future Short Story Monday posts!

Susan Glaspell's story "A Jury of Her Peers" really got me thinking! This is a story BookPsmith rewieved a couple weeks ago. It would be too simplistic to say it's a murder mystery, although that's what it appears to be. A woman awakens to find her husband strangled in their bed. She is put in jail as the prime suspect. The county attorney, sheriff, and a neighbor who discovered the crime scene visit the home to search for clues. The sheriff's wife and neighbor's wife also go along.

The story, published in 1917, shows quite a bit about the relationship between men and women at the time.
As the group enters the kitchen:

"Nothing here but kitchen things," he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things....

"Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder and worrying about her preserves!"

"Oh, well," said Mrs. Hale's husband, with good-natured superiority, "women are used to worrying over trifles."

The men leave the women in the kitchen with instructions to 'keep your eye out...for anything that might be of use' as they continue on with their search:

"But would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?" he said.

From the objects in the kitchen, the women are able to deduce the details of the murder....details that continue to elude the men. What happens in that kitchen is, in effect, a trial by a jury of the woman's peers.

After reading this story, I was curious to learn more about it. Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) was a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and bestselling novelist. The story "A Jury of Her Peers" is a short story adaptation of her one act play "Trifles". It was inspired by events witnessed during her years as a court reporter. A very similar murder actually did occur. At the time, women were not allowed to be jurors, so Glaspell created a jury of those female peers in her short story.






10 comments:

  1. I own The Complete Saki so will have to mark Quail Seeds as a story to read. Isn't he terrific!

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  2. Darlene -
    I don't know why it's taken me so long to read one of his stories, but I'm glad I finally did.

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  3. I didn't know all the back story for A Jury of Her Peers...that is fascinating. I haven't read Saki. Another to add to my list.

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  4. Both stories sound great! Thank you. I love the notion of a 'shopping experience!' And the second one is a fascinating concept. I did some short story reading and blog entries for a while, but then stopped. Why? I don't know. I like both short stories, and essays, and should set aside some regular times for reading them, as you have.

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  5. Nan,
    Until a couple months ago, I was never much of a short story reader.
    Now I enjoy them very much and have decided to read more essays, too.

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  6. Have you come across this blog before? It is truly beautiful. She has a post on a book that is entitled A Jury of Her Peers and is partly about Susan Glaspell.

    http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2009/03/a-jury-of-her-peers.html

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  7. Book Psmith,
    Yes, this is actually one of the first book blogs I discovered, but I must've missed that post. My library has the book, so I've just put a hold on it. Coincidentally, I'm reading Dorothy Canfield Fisher's The Home- Maker now. Thank you so much for sending the link!

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  8. Dovegreyreader better watch out because I want her bookshelves:) She has a great eye. I haven't read Fisher before. So many new authors to get to...

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  9. BookPsmith -
    I'll admit to being a little envious of dovegreyreader's shelves, too! So far, I like Dorothy Canfield Fisher's voice very much.

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  10. I just did a post on this short story-I liked it a lot-I linked to your very insightful post-

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