Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Max Apple

Daddy is a baseball fan. So is his young daughter. But Daddy is also an assistant girl scout leader and his young daughter doesn’t want to be in the girl scouts. The girl scouts act the way he wishes his daughter would act. But while Daddy is at girl scout meetings, his daughter stays home and watches the Houston Astros play professional baseball. She also talks statistics like a baseball fan.

Daddy lost his wife several years ago and he is now bringing up his daughter, Jessica. There is an unbridgeable gulf between them. He wants to be a part-time girl scout leader and she wants to be a professional sports fan.

She wants to go everywhere with her daddy, but that can’t happen because he wants to be a part-time girl scout leader, and she doesn’t want to be in the girl scouts.

The story of two lives existing separately.

Rating: *** out of *****.

Comment: The unusual relationship between father and daughter. RayS.

About the Author: “Born in 1941, Max Apple earned his Ph.D. at the university of Michigan in 19970. He has taught at several universities; presently he is teaching English and creative writing at Rice University. His stories and essays have appeared I several national magazines. His collections of short stories and his novel have been highly praised. Phillip Lopate writers, ‘At his best, Max Apple is the finest writer of short fiction in America.’ ”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp.146-156. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"The Quarry"

Christopher Woods

A sculptress lives in the middle of a quarry so that she can have her materials ready at hand. Her gardener, Ramon,  observes her as she works at freeing figures from the stone. He becomes absorbed in doing with wood what she does with stone. But he becomes frustrated with incomplete and unfinished figures, begins drinking and she dismisses him, telling him never to return.

But he does, with an unfinished wooden figurine that copies in wood her unfinished figurine of a girl in stone. The sculptress recognizes a kindred creative spirit. “Now she knew that Ramon understood…there were so many in the quarry waiting to be free, and there was so little time. ‘Come with me, Ramon,’ she said, holding her hand out to him and smiling. ‘There is so much more work left to do.’ ” P. 144.

Comment: Belief that the stone contains an object or a figurine that needs to be freed from the confining stone—or wood. RayS.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “A native Texan, born in 1950, Christopher Woods writes short stories, plays and poetry. He is a recipient of a grant from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation and a Fellowship from the Edward Albee Foundation. His stories appear in literary journals.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp.140-145. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Aziz Nesin

Here’s how the story begins:

“ ‘No matter when I told about my soul’s transmigration, he called me crazy,’ he said.”

“These words of the man, spoken as soon as I saw him, without introducing himself, out of the blue, before even saying hello, really startled me.” P. 130.

Seems in each reincarnation, he is a critic of officials in the system as the source of evil and he is either condemned to exile or to execution by the officials in the government.  He criticizes officials from lower to higher in the hierarchy of the system, from gendarmes to village headmen, reaching to the prime minister and the king.

The people who commiserate with him  on the way to his exile or execution, don’t blame him for his criticism of some of the officials, but they do blame him for citing others in the hierarchy of the system.  If the people don’t agree with him that certain officials are the source of evil, the people turn on him and kill him themselves. And then he is reincarnated again to begin his criticism at the next level of officials in the system.

Finally, now in the present, he tells the narrator that the real source of evil in the system is the system itself and the narrator kills him. The story doesn’t say if he is reincarnated again.

Rating: **** out of *****.

Comment: Clever idea. RayS.

About the Author: “Born in 1915 of village immigrants to Istanbul, Aziz Nesin is a prolific, international award-winning writer of humor and satire, with more than 60 published books. His stories have been translated into as many as 24 language.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp.130-139. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

"The Sacrifice"

Trirat Petchsingh

Willful son who has fond memories of life with his mother when he was young, joins his mother, who now owns a back-country mine on a trip to the mine to help her run the business. She gives him certain responsibilities and that leads to an ultimatum when she countermands an order he has given to the workers. She owns the mine, she says, and she can give any orders she wants. He demands that she leave the running of the mine to him or he will leave.

His father sides with his mother and the son leaves her all alone in that back-country mine. On the way to meet her husband, sitting in the cab of a dump truck during the beginning of the rainy season,  she, a 71-year-old woman, is thrown out of the overturned truck on a backwoods road and dies.

Her son feels guilt for her death. He had left her alone when she needed him.

Comment: This is one of those stories in which the drama is of lesser importance than the description of the process of mining procedures and the culture of the people. As a result, one does not share the son’s emotions on the death of his mother. The incidental information is more interesting to the reader than the dramatic conflict between the son and the mother. RayS.

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the Author: “Born in 1944 in Thailand, Trirat :Petchsingh writes: ‘I was educated in a number of countries; my greatest influence being five years spent in England as a boy, and eight ears in Australia where I studied for a degree.’ His stories to date are about Thais living in Thailand. Mr. Pechsingh is a correspondent for a news service but writing short stories has become one of his main interests. His first collection of stories was published last year.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp.116 -129. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Town Lovers"

Nadine Gordimer

South Africa. At the time of Apartheid. A light-skinned Negro girl. A cultured foreign man. She worked in a shop. He was a mineralogist. They come together. Live together part of the day. Then she goes home to her mother.

Caught by the police. She is discovered hiding in a locked clothes closet. Taken to the police station. Charged according to immorality laws. Acquitted because of lack of evidence.

Her mother says that her daughter will never work for a white man again.

Comment: A simple tale of Apartheid. RayS.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “Johannesburg is home to Nadine Gordimer, the handsome, soft-spoken, distinguished author of eight collections of short stories and seven novels. Miss Gordimer’s work is published in several countries. She is respected for her honesty and courage, and for the thoughtfulness and emotions stirred by her writing. In 1978 she was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The citation read: “The brilliance with which she renders her varied characters has opened her country to passionate understanding which most of us have no other access to.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 104-115, 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"The Uniform"

Robert Dundas

WWII. Occupied Holland. Her name was Antje. She was a gifted tailor. Caught up in the underground resistance, she made a uniform worn by the mastermind of a plot to blow up a German headquarters. The plot was successful.

But the Germans, using innocuous clues, were able to trace the uniform to Antje. They took her away, tortured her to get her to tell the names of all involved in blowing up the headquarters. She did not tell, mainly because she fainted every time they hurt her. But her face had been seriously disfigured.

After the war, the narrator returned to Holland, looked up Antje, who had warned him she was disfigured, and they married, producing a son on the day they had been reunited.

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the Author: “A native of Scotland, formerly of the British Diplomatic Service, Robert Dundas was educated at Edinburgh University. Fluent in nine languages, including Arabic, he spent much of his diplomatic career in Arab countries. His short stories, travel articles and novels are best known in the United Kingdom.” P. 103.

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 95-103. . 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


F Sionil José

Politics and friendship don’t mix. This time it’s Philippine politics. Arcadio Guzman’s best friend, MB Reyes, who had edited his books, introduced him to the seat of power, a “loud mouth” who told truth when it was unpopular with the people in the seat of power.

When the army general suggested that MB must be shut up, Arcadio Guzman gives the OK. And MB was horribly beaten. MB begs Arcadio through bloody missing teeth to tell the people in the seat of power that he will shut up. He has to support his wife and children.

Arcadio hastens to the palace to drink—to deaden his conscience.

Rating: *** of *****.

About the Author: “F. Sionil José, whose fiction is published internationally, received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism, literature and creative communication arts in 1980.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 79-94. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

"My Sister the Bride"

Amnon Shamosh

The story of a Jewish wedding in Israel involving the narrator’s fifteen-year-old sister—in detail, from the betrothal to the wedding itself and the seven days of celebration that follow. The rituals. The language. You are there  to experience a truly joyous occasion.

Rating: ***  out of *****. Nothing much happens, but the reader learns a great deal about another culture’s celebration of a wedding and it is told in wonderful, colorful detail. Of course, I was thinking of Fiddler on the Roof. RayS.

About the Author: “Short story writer, novelist and poet, Amnon Shamosh was awarded the Jerusalem Agnon Prize for Literature in 1979 and the Prime Minister’s Award for Creativity. He was born in Syria in 1929 and arrived in Israel in 1938. He is a founding member of Kibbutz Maayan Baruk and for many years served as principal of the local high school and later principal of the regional comprehensive high school. He speaks Hebrew, Arabic, French and English. Mr. Shamosh is an active member of the Labor Party, its candidate to the Knesset. His story was translated by Judy Levi.”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 37-48. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

"The Silent Treatment"

Lucienne Desnoues

An avid hunter, Aldo Corrado, possessed of the finest operatic voice in Europe, one day, while hunting, mistakenly hits and eventually kills a nightingale. At the moment of the nightingale’s death, Aldo, performing in the middle of an opera, is struck songless. Try as he might, he cannot sing.

What follows is years of doctors, none of whom can diagnose the illness that has killed Aldo’s voice. He can still talk, but he cannot sing.

And what also follows is years of walks on his estate, listening to the birds, identifying their songs, and enjoying the beauty of their music. And then on Christmas day, Aldo Corrado once again sings beautifully. The birds have forgiven the stray shot that killed the nightingale.

Comment: You could re-name this story, “The Birds’ Revenge.” And, of course, it reminds the reader of Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I like the author’s title as is. The specialized language of music is featured in this story. I did not understand many of the words, but they did not get in the way of understanding the story. RayS.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “Lucienne Desnoues’ artisan and peasant lineage form the bedrock of her literary production. Encouraged by Colette and other writers, she has published several volumes of poetry and prose. Some of her stories, including “The Silent Treatment,” have been adapted by French television. Her story…[was translated by] Susan Kotta, an accomplished translator….”

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 24-36. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"English for Immigrants

Edwin Ornstien

Fresh from her 30-year position with a firm, Claire Upton, drives her new mini car, a gift from the firm on her retirement, to a new life—teaching English to immigrants, beginning with an Indian family. Gone are her years with the firm; never forgotten is her love for Buster whose Lancaster never came back in WWII.

At the Indians’ home, she meets the shattering experience of prejudice by British individuals against what they perceive as unwanted Indians. The Indians are victims of vandalism. “Wogs go home.” She commiserates with them.

Her first attempts at teaching the Indians English (the British idioms, particularly), go awkwardly. On each succeeding visit, she sees signs of increasing destruction to the Indians’ home. She also meets their grandson who is in school and gets along well with his British “mates.”

Next, her prized mini car is vandalized. “Wog lover” is splashed on her car along with a dirty word. She refuses to have the words washed off and drives around displaying them to everyone around her. In the end, the Indians decide to go home to India, but the grandson does not want to go with them. He wants to live with Claire so she can become his “mum” He races home to ask if his relatives will let him stay in England with her. He has the courage to want to stay in spite of the prejudice—which his relatives do not. The story ends with Claire’s praying that his relatives will let her adopt him.

Comment: The reference to Claire’s experience in WWII is probably important. That war, in which she lost her boy friend, was fought in order to assure that hateful prejudice would never occur again. RayS.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “A leading British expert on mail order and direct response advertising, Edwin Ornstien has written four books on marketing. During World War II, he served in the Royal Artillery and was a prisoner of the Japanese from 1942-5, including a harrowing spell building the notorious ‘Railway of Death’ in Burma and Thailand. Since 1976, he has been writing fiction, novels and short stories. His short stories appear in newspapers, magazines and have been read on BBC radio.”

 Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 15-23. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A. E. Sturgis

Story of two men, the one who is satisfied to buy what he feels is important, the other who buys to show off his purchase. When Clyde buys a piano for his son, who enjoys practicing it, Lennie has to have one too, bought at a considerably lower price—for  his son, who is not at all happy about practicing it.

When his son is taking a break from practicing the piano, Lennie twists his arm behind him and marches him in to practice the piano. When Lennie’s wife takes their son to the doctor, the doctor realizes that Lennie’s monomania in having his son practice the piano all the time is destroying the boy’s confidence.

So Lennie buys a pianolo. “No practice, no strain, but music just the same.” Lennie is delighted with his purchase, and Clyde can only turn his eyes toward heaven.

About the Author: “Born in 1916, in Sydney, A. E. Sturgis is presently a university lecturer. He worked in industry for 15 years before starting a working tour of Australia with his wife; they did grape picking, grain harvesting, hospital domestic work and engineering drafting. More than 60 of his short stories, and some verse, have been published in periodicals and literary magazines. His work is included in anthologies in Australia, UK, USA and USSR.”

Rating: ** out of *****.

Short Story International #54. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. February 1986. Pp. 7-14. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Here Come the Maples"

John Updike

Twenty years after their marriage began, Joan and Richard Maple were divorcing. The story is told from the point of view of Richard. They are being divorced in the same city hall building in which they had been married. He even picked her up in his car on the way to the divorce.

Throughout, Richard is filled with memories of their first meetings, courtship and marriage. The divorce is no-fault, about which the lawyers are concerned. No-fault divorce had never been done before in Massachusetts.

What were the causes of the divorce? They were incompatible politically. She always wanted him to be joining marches. They were also incompatible sexually as had been his father and his mother.

One of his memories was that after their marriage, he forgot to kiss the bride. After the divorce, he did kiss her.

Rating: **** out of *****.

About the Author: “John Updike’s mastery with words is legend. He is one of the USA’s best-known contemporary writers. Born in Shillington, Pennsylvania in 1932, he attended and graduated from Harvard College in 1954. His talents were recognized early. He has published several collections of short stories, novels, volumes of poetry and criticism. The tall, slender, boyish Mr. Updike now lives in Massachusetts. “ p. 165.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel.  (August 1981), pp. 153-165.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

"I'd Know You Anywhere"

Edward D. Hoch

Three different war zones: WWII, Korea and Berlin at the time of the Wall. In WWII, Contrell and Groves are corporals. Groves shoots Germans who are surrendering. In Korea, they are officers and Groves shoots South Koreans even though they are not the enemy, but seeking safety on Groves’s tank. In Berlin, Groves shoots a Russian guard at the Wall—but it is not able to be proved.

In all of these events, Contrell disagrees with Groves’s belief that if you’re a soldier, you kill. That’s what you’re there for. But Contrell counters that Groves actually appears to be enjoying killing. Groves shrugs. “Soldiers kill.”

Now Groves is a general, settling in at the Pentagon office and Contrell, still a colonel,  seeks him out. Groves says that now he is a general, he has permission to create his army the way he wants it, an army of killers.

Contrell puts a bullet in Groves’s head. He wonders how he is going to explain this at his court-martial.

Comment: The dialogue about the philosophy of war reminds me a little of Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. However, it’s clumsy, designed to make the point that all soldiers are not killers at heart. RayS.

Rating: ** out of *****.

About the Author: Edward D. Hoch, of Rochester, New York, has been a full-time writer since 1968. He has several novels and hundreds of short stories to his credit. Mr. Hoch is well-known to aficionados of mystery, science fiction and crime stories. P. 152.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel.  (August 1981), pp. 140-152.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"The Tree Spirit"

Punyakante Wijenaike

Three women walk to the pond prepared to bathe. While bathing, they notice that a tree’s branches are shaking. They think it is a tree spirit watching them.

One of the women tells her husband, who goes to chop down the offending branches with the tree spirit. When he reaches the tree, while the women are bathing, he climbs the tree, ready to chop, but suddenly convulses in laughter. In the tree, watching the women, is as an old grandfather who has six grandchildren. The grandfather was the women’s tree spirit.

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the Author: “Punyakante Wijenaike was born in Sri Lanka in 1933. As a child she was quiet, introverted and lived in a world peopled by imaginary characters of her own making. She took to writing about her creations only after her marriage in 1952, her stories began to appear in local newspapers and magazines; collections of her short stories and novels have been published. Her work has been translated into Russian and German.” P. 139.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel.  (August 1981), pp. 133-139. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Queen of Diamonds"

Daphne Ellenberger

The Queen of Diamonds, a fat native woman from South Africa, and her husband were in London at the invitation of a jewelry company. He had found a diamond at home that was worth 75,000 pounds and he was cashing in.

But the Queen of Diamonds had also found five smaller diamonds which she kept in the hollow heel of her left shoe. She had her eye on a thick fur coat. She approached a jeweler and offered him the five diamonds. He said he could not buy the diamonds because they were uncut and it was against the law to buy uncut diamonds. But he was greedy, bargained for their purchase on the following day, after he got the money from the bank—unaware that his shop was under surveillance by two plainclothes police officers, a young man and young woman, who hung around the jewelry shop pretending to look for an engagement ring.

He offered the Queen of Diamonds 6,000 pounds, she countered with 7,000 pounds and he accepted. The diamonds were worth twice as much. When she reached home, she told her husband that she wanted to go home and she wanted to buy a fur coat to take with her that would cost her 500 pounds. Her husband gave her 1,000 pounds.

The next day, the jeweler—and the two undercover police officers—waited impatiently for the Queen of Diamonds to arrive. When she did, she was adorned in a new fur coat in the heat of the summer.

To the jeweler’s amazement—and to the amazement of the two undercover police officers—the Queen of Diamonds walked right by the jeweler’s shop.

 He bolted out the door and raced after her.  “But… but…”stammered [the jeweler] “Our transaction package you were coming to collect.”
                “Oh, that?” With composure [the Queen of Diamonds] brushed a speck of dust from her deep fur cuff. “I find I no longer need the money. So now you do not have to part with it. Is that not good luck for you? And now I must say goodbye because tomorrow the jet aeroplane will take me home.”
                Speechless, [the jeweler] watched as the Queen of Diamonds raised her right hand in salute.
                “Stay well!” Her full-throated voice rang out in the traveler’s farewell to the stay-at-home. “Sala hantle.”

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the author: “Daphne Ellenberger’s short stories, mainly about South Africa where she was born, have appeared in magazines in New York, London Sydney, Cape Town and, translated into Polish, in Warsaw. Her poems have been read over the air in S.A.G.C. radio programs. Now that she has retired from her career as a journalist, her time is divided between gardening and writing.” P. 131.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel.  (August 1981), pp. 116-131.. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"The Other Half of the World"

Jose V. Ayala

Hunger. Feed his wife and children. Rice left over from sacks that had leaked their grain. The darkness of the hold of the barge. The pain of scraped arms and hands as he gathers these stray grains mixed with rust from the hold and blood from his scrapes. Then a guard appears with a flashlight which discovers the starving man trying to feed his family. The man attempts to run and falls. The guard mistakes the motion of the man’s hand as reaching for a gun and he fires three shots.

A crowd tramples the man’s spilled rice in order to see the body, its face covered with a newspaper.

Comment: The story behind the brief headline announcing an “incident” of a beggar having been shot while trying to steal a meal for his wife and children. RayS.

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the Author: Jose V. Ayala is from the Philippines where he is well-known as a professional writer and painter. He has garnered several literary awards and a number of his paintings hang in the National Museum. Mr. Ayala, a many-faceted, talented person, has taught on the college level and is presently with a research center. P. 115

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. (August 1981), pp. 107-115. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Typhoon Country"

James Harper

A perfect storm at sea. Filled with the language of a working ship. The reader needs a nautical dictionary to follow it.

Typhoon. Before, during and after, told in a flat, unemotional tone. The way the story is told, there is no emotion, no intensity. The language is almost that of a textbook. But it’s the language of men doing the job they were assigned to do during the crisis of a storm. Tonelessly reported.

The captain of the ship dies of a heart attack during the storm, but that is also an unemotional report of the burial at sea. 

It’s a cargo ship and at the conclusion of the storm, after the captain is buried at sea, the ship takes aim at its next port, ready, though damaged, for its next cargo.

Rating: **** out of *****. (In spite of the “wooden” narration.)

About the Author:  “Master  mariner from Northern Ireland, James Harper started as an able seaman during the 1939-45 war and qualified for his captain’s certificate in 1948. He has been ‘in most countries in the world that have a sea-coast, and on many of the islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.’ Captain Harper’s long association with the sea inspires most of his stories which appear primarily in Great Britain.” P. 105.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. (August 1981), pp. 82-105.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Alice Glenday.

A divorced father is picking up his daughter at her mother’s flat. For an afternoon visit. And nothing goes right. They are awkward with each other. She is obviously angry at her father whom she blames for the divorce. She keeps wanting to go back to her mother.

He tries to entertain her at a playground. She is afraid of the swings and the slide. He buys her a red balloon. She breaks free of him and runs to the car. He catcher and yells at her. The balloon breaks.

And then a police officer, hearing her scream, asks her what is wrong. When the father says he is her father, the policeman asks her if this is true. She says no.

At the police station, he gives the police officer the directions to her mother’s apartment. The police officer dials his wife’s phone number. When the phone is answered, his wife yells at her ex-husband. “What have you gotten yourself into?”

He leaves the police station. The police officer gives him  a half-hearted apology and prepares to take the little girl back to her mother. He says goodbye to his daughter. She says only, “I didn’t want it [the balloon] to break.” He says, “Neither did I.” Their relationship irretrievably broken.

Rating: ***** out of *****.

About the Author: “Alice Glenday came to New Zealand from Canada as a young war bride. She has a passion for reading modern literature, and writing is in her bloodstream. Her stories have been published in England, Canada, Australia and India, as well as in New Zealand. She was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award; her noel Follow, Follow, won the Auckland Centennial Fiction Prize. P. 81.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. (August 1981), pp. 71-81.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"The Revelation."

Sunwu Hwi.

Suh Rang was a poet, who wrote and spoke beautifully. He was Korean at a time when the Japanese occupied Korea. He was a Korean patriot. Choon Won, another literary celebrity, believed that it was best for Koreans to accept the Japanese occupation. It was the only way they could survive.

Suh Rang was about to speak on behalf of Korean nationalism when he was either struck dumb or was feigning it. He left the dais. Now he could no longer speak on behalf of Korean nationalism.

Everyone wondered at the mystery of whether Suh Rang had been struck dumb or had feigned it. The narrator, now a journalist, many years later, encountered Suh Rang’s son, now a doctor. His son revealed that his father had feigned his dumbness, then discovered that he could not speak, and then recovered his voice. He felt that words got in the way of communication and he had learned to “speak” to his son and his wife through signs. But he had never lost his sense of guilt that he had not spoken out on behalf of Korean nationalism and had hidden behind his feigned dumbness.

About the Author: Sunwu Hwi was born in North Korea in 1922.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. (August 1981), pp. 47-70.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"An Old Woman's Tale"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

One of her tales was a dream by David and Esther of “The Night of the Living Dead” in which a whole town’s ancestors appeared, walking woodenly, their features not quite distinct in the moonlight. At an appointed hour, they all fled and disappeared back into their graves—and David and Esther woke from their dreams. It was so real.

Then they remembered they had seen an old woman digging between two trees while the march of the walking dead proceeded. What was the old woman looking for? David discovered the same old iron shovel leaning against the house that the old woman had been using to dig. He rushed to the spot where she had been digging. He begins to dig and finally says, “Oho, what have we here?” End of story.

Title: Tales and Sketches. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Literary Classics of the United States. 1972. Copyrighted by the Ohio State University Press. P. 25-33.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Mrs. Hutchinson"

Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Summary: Mrs. Hutchinson is a religious reformer in colonial New England. She stood down the men who were in authority.

She stands loftily before her judges, with a determined brow, and, unknown to herself, there is a flash of carnal pride half-hidden in her eye as she surveys the many learned and famous men whom her doctrines have put in fear. They question her, and her answers are ready and acute. She reasons with them shrewdly, and brings Scripture in support of every argument. The deepest controversialists of that Scholastic day find her a woman, whom all their trained and sharpened intellects are inadequate to foil.”

She is banished to Rhode Island, becomes too liberal for their settlers and finally sets up a colony in New York.. She died in an Indian massacre. Only a baby survived among the slaughtered settlers who was reared as an Indian.

Comment: Hawthorne would not have recognized the term, but he was an early Feminist. The Blithedale Romance, one of his novels, deals with the contrast between a woman who is intellectual vs. a pretty young thing who captures the hearts of men, including the narrator. RayS.

Title: Tales and Sketches. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Literary Classics of the United States. 1972. Copyrighted by the Ohio State University Press. P. 18-24.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"The Hollow of the Three Hills"

Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Summary: A young woman seeks the help of a withered hag to learn what has happened to her parents, husband and child whom she abandoned to commit sin. She finds that her parents are broken-hearted, her husband distraught and her child dead. She herself dies on the spot.

“ ’Here has been a sweet hour’s sport,’ said the withered crone chuckling to herself.”

Comment: One of Hawthorne’s themes is the consequences of sin. Sin absorbed the consciousnesses of the Puritans of Colonial times. RayS.

Title: Tales and Sketches. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Literary Classics of the United States. 1972. Copyrighted by the Ohio State University Press. P. 7-11.

Monday, August 1, 2011


P’u Sungling (1630-1715)

Summary: Tao, a young scholar, does not believe in ghosts. So during the summer he decides to live in a mansion on the outskirts of town where he can escape the flies and the heat. The trouble is that the mansion is haunted and three care-takers have died. Their deaths were not accidents.

No matter. Tao settles in and is soon bothered by two pretty female ghosts. Autumn Mien is the older ghost (20years old) and Jojo, the younger (17 years old). After some miscommunication, they help him in his studies and he becomes their teacher—and he falls in love with them—both.

The upshot of the story is that they are both restored as human beings to their families through the intercession of a Taoist priest. And Autumn-Mien as the older becomes Tao’s wife and Jojo becomes his concubine. Apparently a normal relationship.

Famous Chinese Short Stories. Re-told by Lin Yutang. New York: The Pocket Library. 1954.