Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dorothy Parker's Picks for the Best American Short Stories of 1927

"The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway (1927, 5 pages)
"Another Wife"  by Sherwood Anderson (1927, 6 pages)
"The Short Story, Through a Couple of Ages" by Dorothy Parker (1927, 4 pages)

Today is day four of BBAW (Book Blogger  Appreciation Week).   Among the very most viewed posts on my blog (out of 750+) are those I have done on Dorothy Parker (1893 to 1967-USA).   All of  her stories are good and "Big Blond" is a work of genius (and also a warning!)   In addition to her stories and other literary works she wrote hundreds of short opinion articles for The New Yorker.   So in the spirit of community building and in honor of Dorothy Parker (who you know would have a great blog)  I am posting on what she says are the two best short stories of 1927.

"Another Wife"  by Sherwood Anderson

There is more to Sherwood Anderson (1876 to 1941-USA)  than his great collection of linked short stories, Winesburg, Ohio.   (I have included some background information on him in a prior post.)      "Another Wife" is told in the first person by a forty-eight year old physician.   It is kind of a strange story, nothing surprising about that.    We learn he is a widower.    His first wife and he came from poor families and this was part of their bond.   He talks quite a bit about how "plump" she was.   It is hard to see if he liked that or if it was a problem for him.  He has found a lady friend who comes to visit him at his house several times a month.   She is from a prosperous family and he talks over and over about how she is "plump" also and compares her size to that of his late wife.   As the story goes on a bit, we learn he is in fact married to this new woman.  At first I was confused but then I think he never mentioned it earlier as in his heart he does not really think she is his wife at all.   This is a very good story and Parker is to be commended for her excellent taste.

"The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (1899 to 1961) is your all American iconic writer.    He won the Nobel Prize and wrote several of the most loved American novels like The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls.   He is also very famous as a short story writer.   I think "The Killers" is one of his most famous and highest regarded short stories.  It sort of reminds me of something Quentin Taratino could make into a movie!    The story is set in a small restaurant.   The characters are the owner of the restaurant, the cook, two customers (the killers) and their intended victim.   It is almost all dialogue.  

As the story opens two men are in a diner.   They tell the owner they want to order the dinner special.   He tells them they are too early to get that and the men try to bait him into a conversation.   It is really well done and pretty scary in a way.   I will compress my summery a lot.   The two men have sawed off shot guns under their coats and the cook and the owner are very frightened.  The men tell them  they are at the diner as they know a man they are going to kill as a favor to a friend comes in everyday for the dinner.   I will leave the rest of the plot untold as it is the wonderful way Hemingway uses a minimum amount of dialogue to tell the story that makes it so great.   Of these two stories, I guess I would say this one is the best and for sure it is the most famous. 

You can read "Another Wife" Here 

You can read "The Killers" Here

You can read Parker's article Here

Mel u


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Yeah, "The Killers" is hard to argue with. It was Nabokov's favorite Hemingway story, for what that's worth.

Fred said...

Mel u,

There are two film versions of "The Killers." I haven't seen either one yet, but they are near the top of my netflix queue so I should be seeing them in a few weeks.

The 1946 Version is directed by Robert Siodmak and stars Burt Lancaster along with a host of notable names.

The 1964 version is directed by Don Siegal with Lee Marvin who, I think plays one of the killers. This version also has a cast of notable names.

Mel u said...

Amateur Reader- positive opinions of Nabokov means a lot-negative less to me anyway

Fred-thanks very much-I will look out for these movies

picky said...

I love Ernest Hemingway, and "The Killers" is a great story.

Some of my other favorite short story authors are Raymond Carver and John Cheever - both big names in American short story writing. I love teaching their stories. Students turn their noses up but end up enjoying the stories regardless.

Rise said...

"The Killers" is a favorite! Hemingway really had two ears for dialogue.

Mel u said...

Picky-I like Carver and have read three or four of his stories-which ones are your favorite-on Cheever I have read and liked "The Swimming Pool" and "The Big Radio"-

Risa-yes the dialogue was just great-so glad you are keeping up your short story event