Monday, March 9, 2009

Short Story Monday

Well, here first short story post. I'll preface it by saying that ever since high school, I've steered clear of short stories. They seem to demand more of the reader and, often, I've felt like I'm not up to the task. Recently, however, two collections of short stories have found their way into my reading. Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth (review to be posted this week) and Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge (my review and book club meeting posted earlier) were both outstanding and have me re-thinking my stance on short stories.

The Norton Book of American Short Stories has been on my bookshelf for a few months now. Twin A used it for her English class short story unit and told me I should take a look... "There are some really good stories in there, Mom."

As a test, I decided to choose a "short" short story by an author that is familiar to me. At just three pages, "The Story of An Hour" by Kate Chopin fit my criteria. It is about a woman who receives word of her husband's death in a train accident and chronicles her emotional state for the following hour. The story was written in 1894, five years before The Awakening was published, and is obviously the work of the same author. It (very) briefly explores a woman's sense of identity as it relates to her marriage .

"She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands
folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed
and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of
years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her
arms out to them in welcome."

Saying more will spoil the story, but you can find it here and read it for yourself in just a couple of minutes.


  1. The Story of an Hour is such a great story! I thought about that one for a long time after I read it a couple of years ago. I would never have thought that three little pages could generate that much inner discussion! :-)


  2. Lezlie,
    It is a pretty amazing story, isn't it? I'm in awe of an author that can say so much in just 3 pages!

  3. Wow...that sentence is so beautiful and definitely has me curious. Thank you for linking to the story. I am not sure why but I also avoided short stories for the longest time. I am finding that they serve as perfect transitional objects between books.

  4. BookPSmith,
    For such a short story, there are several other sentences that make you pause to savor the language. I like your idea of using short stories as a transition between books!

  5. I'm glad that you're rethinking short stories. They might demand a different kind of thinking from a reader, but they also demand less time, so I enjoy them.

  6. John,
    I'm looking forward to more short stories. The time factor is definitely a plus!

  7. I know what you mean about avoiding short stories. I've gone down a similar path. I have just recently rediscovered them. I have to admit though, it scares me just a little to start considering all the great short stories out there in addition to all the great novels. Oh my gosh -- I have to quit my job so I will have time to read!

  8. Lisa,
    LOL! There are so many good things out there to read but, with times the way they are, I wouldn't quit my job just yet ;-)

    I'm hoping the short stories will be a way to try new authors with less time investment than a novel. It will be fun to choose another one this weekend.

  9. I steered clear of short stories as well! Then this Christmas I read Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes and fell in love with short stories. I guess it's finding just the right compilation at the right time in your life.

  10. Darlene,
    Was it on your blog that I read about a collection of Christmas stories? It sounded really good, so I may have to investigate more thoroughly when the season comes around again. It's funny out our reading tastes change and evolve over the years.

  11. Isn't this a marvelous short story? There is also a film version, "The Joy that Kills" (an American Playhouse production) that is quite good.

  12. Jenclair,
    Thanks. I'm on my way over to Netflix now to look for it!

  13. Hi Joanne,

    Thank you for commenting on my remarks about my Monday short story. You are the first person to make a comment on my blog. Thank you so much.

    I haven't read Kate Chopin's short story. After reading your comment and the quote, I can't wait to read it. I have read "The Awakening" more than once always thinking there is more for me to understand about the woman's life and the way she chose to end her life. Thank you again and thanks for introducing me to a totally new short story.

  14. Tea,
    I'm honored to be the first to comment on your blog! I think you will like Chopin's short story when you get a chance to read it. I really liked The Awakening, too!

  15. Lynda,
    I'm glad you enjoyed it...and thank you for visiting!


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