Friday, August 29, 2008

A Few Short Stories

Tonight, I got on the topic of short stories with a few family members. I’m not exactly sure how it came up, but I love the fact that in addition to chatting about movies, TV, and Michael Scott-esque bosses, we can also discuss literature.

Because I tend to be a know-it-all and always have something to say, I had to recommend a few of my favorite short stories:

  • Good Country People”: If you haven’t read this classic Flannery O’Connor short story about a “spinster” and a bible salesman, you must. I always include it in my literature classes because I enjoy re-experiencing its ironic twist with my students. To see their reactions—both horror and glee—is an absolute pleasure.
  • The Lottery”: The short story by Shirley Jackson came up during a conference I attended last week. I could have sworn one of my colleagues suggested reenacting this story with his students. If you have read it, you will know what an alarming suggestion that is. If you haven’t, and you want to know why I was stunned, you better read it soon. After all, you never know when your number will be called.
  • The Things They Carried”: I first used this Tim O’Brien short story in a class comprised of current and former members of the military, which made it all the more resonant. The story takes place during the Vietnam War, and the title literally and figuratively refers to those things the soldiers carried. Literature is at its most beautiful when it touches the reader on such a personal level.
  • Pantaloon in Black”: This William Faulkner short story is perhaps my all-time favorite. Unfortunately, I can’t find the full text online because it deserves to be read by a wider audience. Many readers may be more familiar with Faulkner’s “The Bear” or “A Rose for Emily.” The last image in “Emily” is absolutely classic, and I remember clearly my shock, disgust, and delight the first time I read it. “Pantaloon” is far different from “Emily” and “The Bear.” The story of a black man’s grief over his wife’s death, and the reaction of the white community, is profoundly emotional and progressive.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

I am going to read at least one of these short stories. Are we going to start a "book group" to ensure I do? When should my due date be, and which story?

Blogger said...

Let's see. I'll give you two weeks from today to post your review of one of those stories.