Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 875, mostly contemporary, short stories.

26 March, 2017

Jung Young Moon, "Mrs. Brown"

The story was told to the narrator and he is retelling it. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are held at gunpoint in their home by a young, nervous boy who is joined by his equally naive girlfriend. It's an interesting and somewhat bewildering encounter but also poignant and sad. The themes, for me, are what can happen if a person doesn't know what she wants or doesn't follow through. Yet, also the freedom and relief that might come from following one's dreams. Mrs. Brown finally does take the flying lessons she'd always wanted. She's Korean and her husband is a typical white American of mixed ancestry. She's kept her own name because she doesn't like the name Brown. However, we never learn her name. She's forsaken a lot of her own dreams yet she's pretty happy and open minded. She thinks about this during the so-called robbery.

"Mrs. Brown" is the first story in the collection titled A Most Ambiguous Sunday, and Other Stories  published by Dalkey Press. I bought my copy at Deep Vellum in Dallas.

Jung Young Moon's Wikipedia page

19 March, 2017

Carson McCullers, "Wunderkind"

Frances goes to her piano lesson and abruptly leaves, knowing she'll never return. "As she passed through the vestibule she could not help but see his hands--held out from his body that leaned against the studio door, relaxed and purposeless. The door shut firmly. Dragging her books and satchel she stumbled down the stone steps, turned in the wrong direction, and hurried down the street that had become confused with noise and bicycles and the games of other children."

She's had piano lessons for three years and in the last few months, she's had some sort of an emotional break down, or just adolescent hormonal imbalance. "What had begun to happen to her four months ago? The notes began springing out with a glib, dead intonation."

"She stood up from the piano when it was over, swallowing to loosen the bands that the music seemed to have drawn around her throat and chest."

"Wunderkind" was McCullers first published story in 1936 in the journal Story. She was also a piano student and had a break with her teacher when Mary Tucker, her teacher, had to move away. Then Carson switched her interest to writing.

Carson McCullers, "A Tree - A Rock - A Cloud"

The story takes place in just a few minutes in a cafe early in the morning. It's still dark and the young, twelve-year old, paper boy goes in to buy a cup of coffee and is stopped by a sixty-something man who is nursing a beer at the counter. Leo works the grill and owns the cafe and is full of rude comments during the few minutes the old man tells the paperboy of his sad luck with his wife. She ran off and he tried to find her for two years until he developed a "science" of love.

The story was first published in 1942 in Harper's Bazaar.  Karen Allen is producing or has produced and directed a film based on this story.  The film's website says it is set in 1947.

Charles E. May has commented on this story on his blog, Reading the Short Story
Link to Wikipedia website about McCullers.