From The New Yorker, published May 15, 1948.
The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennes- see and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. “Now look here, Bailey,” she said, “see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.”
I found this short story at The American Scholar—”The posthumous tale of a Russian professor’s nightmarish encounter with a former student.” It deals with revolution and the joys and wonders of socialism.
The magazine also tells us that a new book is coming out:
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. He died on August 3, 2008. This story, appearing for the first time in English, is part of the forthcoming collection, Apricot Jam and Other Stories, published by Counterpoint Press.
If you do anything this weekend, spend a few minutes with this absolute must-must-must-read short story from the great Ray Bradbury, written… last year (his 89th on THIS planet). Needless to say, it has caused a little stir among his fanbase, as it is so, well, you’ll see.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge—a short story by Ambrose Bierce
A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners — two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as ”support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest — a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.
The Utne Reader published a piece about a short story by Shirley Jackson that caused a great stir. The author of the article wrote, “When The New Yorker published Shirley Jackson’s dark, controversial short story “The Lottery” in 1948, the magazine could not have been prepared for its visceral effect: readers were outraged, many immediately canceling their subscriptions, others sending hate mail to the author. How did a four-page story cause such upheaval and how did Jackson come to craft this allegory, which remains painfully relevant today?”
First, before reading the article, I read the short short story; and then wondered what the hidden meaning was supposed to have been? It’s symbolism represents what? That country folk are backward and ultimately violent? And that is “painfully relevant” today?
Philosopher Alexander Pruss, who teaches at Baylor University, enjoyed this 8,300 word science fiction story by Eric James Stone called, That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made, particularly after a student “complained that the sexual ethics material” they “were reading only applied to humans.” I enjoyed it also. It’s about humans interacting with an alien form of life, cultural differences of the species, non-consential sex, and Mormonism.