Picture taken @ The Emporia Public Library, Emporia, KS
So I’ve been really into reading short stories lately. After all, MAY IS SHORT STORY MONTH! The idea that you can read an entire story in like 30 minutes is very appealing! I’ve decided to do some mini reviews on a few short stories that I’ve read (and re-read) recently. Basically, I am going to give you a little bit of a synopsis and then a short reason why I enjoyed it. I have also included a rating for each story. You can read more about my rating system here. Enjoy!
Morality by Stephen King
From The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Published 2015, Originally published in July 2009 by Esquire
Chad and Nora are a young couple in Brooklyn who are struggling to get by financially. Nora is an RN who works as a home nurse for a retired minister, Reverend Winston. Sensing he is close to death, Reverend Winston asks Nora to help him commit a sin before he dies in exchange for $200,000. Nora accepts with Chad’s support and collects the money. From here we watch the couple’s marriage dissolve into a storm of accusations and violent sex. I couldn’t stop reading this story once I started. I needed to know what was going to happen! Although a quite macabre story, it deals with real life struggles. Stephen King has done it, again!
Season’s Greetings to our Family and Friends!!! By David Sedaris
From Holidays on Ice, Published 1997
This story is told through a Christmas letter from Mrs. Dunbar. As you read the letter, you get a glimpse of Mrs. Dunbar’s slow downward spiral into madness. Her tone is consistently cheery to match the holiday spirit as she discusses her husband’s infidelity, her daughter’s drug addiction, and her discovery of a step-daughter who is basically a prostitute! How can a story be this humorous and also this morbid? I have no idea, but if anyone is going to do it- it’s David Sedaris. I read this story last Christmas and it has continued to stick with me!
Published in The New Yorker, May 1948
An elderly couple visits their deranged son in a sanatorium on his birthday, but are informed that they cannot see him because he attempted to take his own life. They return home where the mother reflects on her journey from Russia to what we assume is New York. The father decides it’s best to take their son out of the sanitarium before he kills himself. At the conclusion of the story there are three phone calls. Two are wrong numbers and a third goes unanswered. The reader is then left to guess if the third phone call has anything to do with their suicidal son’s death. I read this story for a writing course I took as an undergraduate. It is still my favorite short story of all time. It’s written beautifully AND allows the reader to become a tad bit involved.
Published in The Saturday Evening Post, September 1950
The Hadley family lives in an “automated” house that takes care of the cooking, cleaning, washing and clothing them, basically everything. The two Hadley children, Wendy and Peter, soon become obsessed with a virtual reality room they call “the nursery”. The room is able to connect with the children’s minds and reproduce any location the children dream up. Lately the children had dreamt up an African Veld, which the parents find disturbing. They begin to question the way they are living, which sends the children into a frenzy. The children then utilize the Veld to get something they want. Bradbury is no stranger to the absurd and shocking! I read this story recently while I was working the reference desk at the library and i’m sure the patrons were wondering why I looked so surprised! It’s very creative and a bit of a thriller.
Published in The New Yorker, September 2006
So far, all of these stories have had a bit of a thrilling aspect. Something That Needs Nothing, however; is a true life tale with a love story mixed in. It is a story about two childhood friends that move to Portland together, Pip and a nameless narrator. The narrator is in love with Pip and after Pip leaves to live with another girl, the main character begins working for a peep-show. One night a threatening peep-show customer is the excuse the narrator needs to contact Pip for one last encounter. This story was packed with emotion. It’s sad, overwhelming, and you fall in love with the main characters in such a short amount of time. I’ve never read anything by Miranda July, but this story was enough to convince me that she is an amazing writer and I NEED to read more of her work.
Have you read a short story that desperately needs my attention?! Post it in the comments!