Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Grau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grau. Show all posts

24 October, 2015

Shirley Ann Grau, "The Patriarch"

A first and third person POV story about an eighty-eight year old man whose son becomes a Unitarian minister. The narrator, Edward Milton Henley, had considerable wealth and went through several wives. For me the theme is about role reversals, the father had finally become the wise one through living his life, in a rather messy way,
which his son had tried to do through study.

The second part of the story is then told in third-person point of view of the son, Reverend Anthony Henley. The story efficiently, but thoroughly, covers eighty-eight years beginning somewhere near the end of the nineteenth-century. The story is included in the new collection of Grau's stories, Selected Stories: Shirley Ann Grau.

20 October, 2015

Shirley Ann Grau, "The Black Prince"

Alberta and Maggie Mary are picking cotton and find a man watching them. He's appeared out of nowhere and immediately Maggie Mary is intrigued. This stranger, Stanley Albert Thompson, is the stranger in town with money in his pockets. He sets out to establish his reputation by fighting all the local men and winning. The girls are enamored and the men angry. Stanley represents the evil, reveals the underlying discontent of the townspeople, is the provocateur and eventually Willie defeats this devil, or does he? Stanley and Alberta continue to be seen around town or is it their spirits?

"The Black Prince" was first published in 1955, in Grau's collection of the same title.

18 October, 2015

Shirley Ann Grau, "The Beginning"

Published in Grau's collection, Nine Women, "The Beginning," tells how a mother instills in her daughter a quiet and solid self-esteem that even after "the kingdom at last fell," the narrator/daughter still felt like a princess within. The story is told after the narrator has become an adult and a number of years after she completed college. It's never totally clear how old the narrator might be at the time of the telling of her early beginning. Her mother was resilient and brave and smart and dedicated and knew how to persevere. Her mother was an entrepreneurial seamstress who became pregnant by a traveling salesman who never married her. Many years later, the mother married and the stepfather drove the narrator/daughter to school everyday in his taxicab, "...the Indian princess in her palanquin, the treasure of the mahal above Leconte's Drugstore."

The final paragraph of this story is one of the most beautiful I've ever read.

"The Beginning" is included in the more recent, 2003, collection of Grau's stories, Shirley Ann Grau: Selected Stories. Written sometime before 1985; I don't see that "The Beginning" was published first in a journal.

11 October, 2015

Shirley Ann Grau, "Flight"

First published in Grau's collection, Nine Women, in 1985, "Flight" tells the story of Willie May dying of liver cancer. Her only child, Michael, wants her to stay with him but she insists on flying home. Then the story goes into the back story of her childhood, marriage, and death.

The story begins with dialogue between a mother, a son and a doctor. She hears rain and then the story jumps to back story with "She, the small child, waited for rain..." She is a young child, nicknamed Doodle Bug and Mouse, when her mother loses a child who was born prematurely and had called out for help from Willie May, then she learns that she "shouldn't have run away." Love and life has become a "trap." "Oh, I understand. The trap. The trap that caught my father and my mother and even me. But that was years ago, not now. No more love." The story turns more metaphysical the closer she gets to dying. "Secure in her power and boastful of her strength, she raced the plane home. And won. She was waiting at the airport when Micheal pushed her wheelchair through the gates. She sniffed at the thin figure sagging sideways, dribble of saliva draining from the mouth, eyes half open but unseeing." Wow.

The story moves back and forth between the current story of Willie May dying and her life from childhood, courtship, World War II, through marriage and old age. It's 23 pages long and is the first story in the new, 2003, selection of Grau's stories.

essay, Metroactive Books, J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Encyclopedia of Alabama