American Gothic Tales - Bruce McAllister, Joyce Carol Oates

So I found this, and that means that I now have a source of fanfiction that I can read that won't come off as being as unintentionally hilarious as a teenage girl writing herself into Harry Potter and making the entire conflict in the wizarding world condensed into the immortal war between the goths and the preps.  I swallowed some Once Upon a Time Rumplestiltskin fanfic like a whole case of BonBons like a total bastard last night, but I managed to finish off the last short story I will talk about here while taking a bath last night.  Oh, don't you try to envision that, you sick fucks.


Anyway, without further ado -



Afterward - Edith Wharton


A good idea that gets stretched on for too long with too little meat on its bones, much like "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" - [spoiler] it becomes a dry ghost story, with the distinction of the ghost committing revenge murder due tot he unintentional help of the wife leading the ghost to her husband.  It's really quite silly and the dramatic reveal at the end is downright hilarious in its angst. [/spoiler]   Pass this one up, it's so long.


The Striding Place - Gertrude Atherton


 Mysterious, a good deal tense, Atherton's tale has aged, but the edge to its ending has not lost all of its edge, entirely.  The sense of desperate sorrow and anxiety towards the thought of the loss of a close friend is palpable - the problem lies mainly in its ending, which came off as being sublimely confusing.


Death in the Woods - Sherwood Anderson


"She was an old woman and lived on a farm near the town in which I lived.  all country and small-town people have sen such old women, but no one knows much about them."


Possibly one of the more subtlety soul-crushing stories that still carries the existential horror at the realization that a person's life is meant only to exist as a means of supporting others without thanks.  I have seen this theme used as a means of enacting only pity in an audience, but here it is wielded pitilessly, the POV of the story acting only to highlight the cruelty contained in the story.  A definite must read.


The Outsider - H. P. Lovecraft


"I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible, full of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and shadows."


My first run-in with Lovecraft, this story blazed my mind on fire when I first read it in high school.  Lushly descriptive with a distinctly old world flavor, the POV of the narrator is gnawingly enthralling.  Its short length works for its benefit; there is a distinctly nightmarish quality to the piece, and there is a sense of timeless in the struggle of the main character that, with the knowledge of Lovecraft's personal life, seems to add an extra layer of tragedy to the story as a whole.


A Rose for Emily - William Faulkner


"She did not ask them to sit.  She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt.

Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. Her voice was dry and cold. "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."

“But we have. We are the city authorities. Miss Emily. Didn't you get notice from the sheriff, signed by him?"
“I received a paper, yes," Miss Emily said. "Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff... I have no taxes in Jefferson."
"But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see. We must go, by the-"
"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson.”
“But, Miss Emily...”
“See Colonel Sartoris, (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!” The Negro appeared. “Show these gentlemen out.”"

What is there to say about this one, except that, for once, there is some real substance to a story that is a mainstay in schools.  With teeth so sharp that they still remain buried in the back of your mind months after reading it, this short story builds up to an amazing finish.