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Posts tagged "Short Story Wednesdays"

Short Story Wednesdays: "Where I'm Calling From" by Raymond Carver

Short Story Wednesdays: “Where I’m Calling From” by Raymond Carver

If Alcoholics Anonymous really is a model for the Church, then Raymond Carver has some of the best ecclesiology around! This time we turn to a story from his Cathedral collection about addiction, love, empathy, and (just maybe!) redemption. To read along, go here.

The next morning Frank Martin got me aside and said, ‘We can help you. If you want help and want to listen to what we say.’ But I didn’t know if they could help me or not. Part of me wanted help. But there was another part. All said, it was a very big if.

The story opens…

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Short Stories: The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges

Short Stories: The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges

This time, we turn to one of the famous Argentine’s stories about religion, language, fatalism, and self-justification. To read along, go here.

In classic, weird Borges style, “The Library of Babel” takes us to an alternate/future/past universe, one of a tremendous library-world whose citizens are constantly trying to discover the meaning of the world they live in. In sketching this world, Borges touches on deeply religious themes, everything from abstract metaphysics to the everyday roots of anxiety.

Since Borges’s story is more describing this world than it is a strict narrative, we’ll look at his world to summarize. It’s a vast library…

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Holiness is Being a Vagabond: Reflections on Tolstoy's "Father Sergius"

Holiness is Being a Vagabond: Reflections on Tolstoy’s “Father Sergius”

To read along, go here.

The possibility for man to come to God lies precisely in the fact that he is a sinner… As he was pursued by desire and fear, so he was pursued by God.

-Rudolf Bultmann, “The Problem of ‘Natural Theology’”

Leo Tolstoy’s short story “Father Sergius” is a parable of conversion and sanctification unmatched in anything modern I’ve read, except perhaps Flaubert. To summarize: an up-and-coming, well-educated Russian military officer is gradually breaking into the highest society; he wins promotions quickly and finds the Tsar’s favor. He becomes engaged to a high-class woman whom he loves, but when he…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "Winky" by George Saunders

Short Story Wednesdays: “Winky” by George Saunders

This week we slip into the mind of George Saunders, contemporary and friend to the late DFW, and colleague of Mary Karr at Syracuse University. “Winky,” a very short story, was published here in the New Yorker for you to read in full (if you are a subscriber), or you could just buy the collection of stories (highly recommended), Pastoralia.

“I’m lost!” You cried. “I’m wandering in a sort of wilderness!”

“Hey, You, come on over!” shouted a girl across the stage, labeled “Inner Peace.” “I bet you’ve been looking for me your whole life!”

“Boy, have I!” said You. “I’ll be right…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "A Father's Story" by Andre Dubus

Short Story Wednesdays: “A Father’s Story” by Andre Dubus

This week, we turn to Andre Dubus’s “A Father’s Story”, available here.

“Ethics demands an infinite movement, it demands disclosure. The aesthetic hero, then, can speak but will not.”

-S. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

On July 23, 1986, Andre Dubus pulled over onto the side of the road to help a couple of strangers, male and female, having car trouble. An oncoming car swerved and was about to hit them; Dubus pushed the woman out of the way and, as a result, was hit himself and remained confined to a wheelchair for final thirteen years of his life.

As we saw with O’Connor’s lupus…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller" by Gustave Flaubert

Short Story Wednesdays: “The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller” by Gustave Flaubert

This week, we get to hear all about Christianity, morality, and sanctification, from the ever-insightful Gustave Flaubert, in his fantastic story about learning to hunt as an up-and-coming medieval prince. After a series of twists, we meet Jesus Christ in a riverside hovel. Read along here.

Only the saint knows sin.

-W.P. DuBose

A pretentious student once asked Flannery O’Connor whether she had been influenced at all by Flaubert. She responded (once imagines in her thickest Southern drawl), “FLOW-BARE? Never heard of him.” Despite the sarcasm, his writing style, stance on faith, and meditations on how the grace of God changes someone were…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "Big Two-Hearted River" by Hemingway

Short Story Wednesdays: “Big Two-Hearted River” by Hemingway

This week we turn to Ernest Hemingway’s classic, beloved “Big Two-Hearted River”, a story about fishing in backcountry Michigan. Its stylistic technique is the best of any stories we’ve looked at (or probably will!) in this understated story about survival. Read along here.

This story concludes Hemingway’s In Our Time, a beautiful collection of short stories that epitomize Hemingway’s ‘iceberg theory’, a method of storytelling that only gives the bare facts and leaves it up to the reader to make inferences. As Hemingway was himself a veteran of war, In Our Time has usually been interpreted as a book dealing with…

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Short Story Thursday: Christ on the Enola Gay by Philip Wylie

Short Story Thursday: Christ on the Enola Gay by Philip Wylie

This week, we turn to an untitled story about Jesus Christ–you know, the stowaway on board the Hiroshima mission. To read along, go here.

“Pulp trash you say. But this is not entirely true …”

-John Small on Opus 21, Harvard Crimson, 1949

This story comes from a small chapter near the end of Philip Wylie’s exaggerated, disjointed sci-fi thriller, Opus 21. It’s political – perhaps a bit too political – but statements of the kind Wylie is making are part and parcel of the sci-fi genre. From post-apocalyptic scenarios, to dystopianism, to Ray Bradbury-esque encounters ‘of the third kind’ with aliens, science fiction…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor

Short Story Wednesdays: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

Welcome back! This week for our new short story series, we turn to Flannery O’Connor’s popular and much-anthologized “A Good Man is Hard to Find” – the story of a family vacation gone awry. You can read along by clicking here.

Have you heard the one about the family driving to Florida? Grandmother’s vanity leads to a car accident in South Georgia, they run into an outlaw called the Misfit, and he kills them all. Flannery O’Connor found stories like this deeply comical, and at the same time as serious as anything in the world.

It’s safe to say she was the…

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Short Story Wednesdays: "An Encounter" by James Joyce

Short Story Wednesdays: “An Encounter” by James Joyce

Introducing a new feature! Weekly or quasi-weekly postings of short stories followed by a few observations/thoughts on the story – they’ll all be available online, and discussion is (highly) encouraged for those who are inclined.

As an opening salvo, I thought we’d look at “An Encounter” from James Joyce’s Dubliners, a beautiful little composition set in the city of Dublin and written in the early twentieth century. The story deals with two young boys who set off on a day of adventure in the big city. As such, it’s a tale of youthful idealism running up against the realities of the adult,…

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