I just finished reading my short story for the day – Flannery O’Conner’s, “A Good Man is Hard to Find“. I’m surprised I made it through 12 years of grade school, and a combined 8 years of college without ever having read it. Perhaps if I had remained in a literature program, I would have, but I don’t think it would be completely off topic to have a story like this one examined in a psychology or sociology class so my confusion remains. Just like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, this one sets you up quietly to be dropped on your head with the ending. That’s as much as I’ll give away for those of you who have not read it. Those of you who have, I would think, know what I mean.
This week, I also read a fun little O. Henry story. His story was called, “Tobin’s Palm“. The twist ending, in this case, turned out to be somewhat uplifting. There are always those endings that are left open to interpretation, whether everything ends “happily ever after”, and when given the choice, I usually choose to believe in the “happily ever after”. Especially since this week was rough for endings.
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” was the Lovecraft this week. The Shadow Over Innsmouth is actually a novella, so it took a little longer than one sitting to finish. This being one of his later stories, though, he had certainly honed his craft by the time of it’s writing. The buildup was slow, but just added to the suspense and mystery surrounding the title town. The narrator plays the cynic unbeliever, so the reader falls right in line with him believing none of this could be true. It was hard to put this one down.
I was disappointed in Poe this week. “Loss of Breath” left something to be desired, and required a great suspension of disbelief, so much so that I found it hard to get on board. The title phenomenon is taken to the most absurd extreme, and it lost a lot in the telling. The antiquated writing style indicative of the day is something I can usually ignore, or at least grow accustomed to, when reading a good story, but with this one I ended up focusing on it. Somehow, the flowery language made the whole thing that much more absurd.
I think my favorite this week was Dorothy Parker’s, “Lady With a Lamp“. At the beginning, we get the idea the two main characters sometimes go quite a while without seeing each other. This time one was shocked to discover the other was terribly ill. The POV was intriguing as this is one of Parker’s “monologue stories” (my own term, as far as I know). Some of my favorite stories of hers have been told in first person as an extended monologue, usually in the form of thoughts that run through one’s mind in certain situations. This time, the “monologue” was actually just one side of a conversation about why the speaker’s friend is ill. And over the course of the conversation, we discover a lot. Though the ailment is never directly mentioned, it doesn’t take long to figure out what has happened, and considering, I have to wonder if this story created a huge scandal when it was released in 1932. Five stars.