Short Stories All the Time

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

13 September, 2015

Ethan Rutherford, "The Peripatetic Coffin"

A great fictionalized account of the first submarine of the Civil War that ultimately bombed the sloop-of-war, U.S.S. Housatonic, in Charleston Harbor in 1864. The story is told in first-person by one of the guys who was a hand cranker inside the Hunley.

A thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read. Also of interest in the story is an account of the Union Balloon Corps.

"The Peripatetic Coffin" was first published in the journal American Short Fiction and then included in his collection, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories.

"Sunday sermons exhorted us to forgive and forget, but even then I knew forgiveness was the province of the healthy, of the unbeaten, and that no help was coming."

"We glide in reverse for just long enough to wonder whether we've attached the line to the firing mechanism correctly, and then there's an explosion so deafening it's like tasting sound."

Here is a link to Rutherford reading one of his other stories, "Camp Winnesaka"

12 September, 2015

Ethan Rutherford, "The Broken Group"

This third-person POV limited viewpoint from the eleven-year old Robert tells of a father/son sailing trip. The mother and younger, nine-year old, sister were also along but were dropped off in Ucluelet, on Vancouver Island. The father and son continue on their trip and when anchored at Wower Island, they see a man who appears to need help. Joshua, the father, and Robert go ashore and follow the man who told them he needed help on the other side of the island until the father "knows" something is terribly wrong.

Robert witnesses something that will change his life forever and we can only speculate on how that works out. The brief exchanges between the father and the man on the beach are scary, creepy without being overly wrought. A lot here is left to the reader's imagination as it should be in a short story. On a second close reading, there are clues that on a first reading might be missed because the suspense encourages the reader to read quickly.

The story is about 25 pages long. It's got a nice sense of suspense and a particularly touching bit of backstory that the boy, Robert, experienced that summer at camp and never told his parents.

"Inattention had consequences at sea, so it was important to be careful."

"These kids, they had hated him for no reason he could think of except that he was there by himself and hadn't, like them, signed up with a group of friends."

This story was also published in an anthology titled Fiction on a Stick: New Stories by Minnesota Writers in 2008. It is one of the stories in Rutherford's collection, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories, published by ECCO, Imprint of Harper Collins, 2013.

Ethan Rutherford's web page
Star Tribune, Minnesota, newspaper review
Harper Collins web site review