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The American Short Story Handbook

The American Short Story Handbook

James Nagel

ISBN: 978-1-118-90213-4 December 2014 Wiley-Blackwell 328 Pages




This is a concise yet comprehensive treatment of the American short story that includes an historical overview of the topic as well as discussion of notable American authors and individual stories, from Benjamin Franklin’s “The Speech of Miss Polly Baker” in 1747 to “The Joy Luck Club”.

  • Includes a selection of writers chosen not only for their contributions of individual stories but for bodies of work that advanced the boundaries of short fiction, including Washington Irving, Sarah Orne Jewett, Stephen Crane, Jamaica Kincaid, and Tim O’Brien
  • Addresses the ways in which American oral storytelling and other narrative traditions were integral to the formation and flourishing of the short story genre
  • Written in accessible and engaging prose for students at all levels by a renowned literary scholar to illuminate an important genre that has received short shrift in scholarly literature of the last century
  • Includes a glossary defining the most common terms used in literary history and in critical discussions of fiction, and a bibliography of works for further study

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Preface vii

Part 1 Introduction 1

Part 2 Historical Overview of the American Short Story 9

The American Story to Washington Irving 12

The Age of Romanticism 20

Realism and Naturalism 26

American Modernism 39

The Contemporary American Short Story 46

Part 3 Notable Authors of American Short Stories 55

Washington Irving 57

Edgar Allan Poe 62

Nathaniel Hawthorne 67

Herman Melville 71

Mark Twain 76

Bret Harte 82

Henry James 86

Kate Chopin 91

Stephen Crane 96

O. Henry 101

Sarah Orne Jewett 105

Charles W. Chesnutt 109

Willa Cather 115

F. Scott Fitzgerald 120

Ernest Hemingway 126

John Steinbeck 132

William Faulkner 139

Jamaica Kincaid 144

Tim O’Brien 150

Louise Erdrich 156

Part 4 Great American Short Stories 163

Benjamin Franklin, “The Speech of Polly Baker” 165

Ruri Colla, “The Story of the Captain’s Wife and an Aged Woman” 168

Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle” 172

Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown” 177

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado” 180

Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” 184

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, “The Two Offers” 189

Hamlin Garland, “Under the Lion’s Paw” 192

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” 196

Henry James, “The Real Thing” 202

Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby” 206

Ambrose Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” 210

Stephen Crane, “The Blue Hotel” 214

Frank Norris, “A Deal in Wheat” 218

Edith Wharton, “The Other Two” 222

Willa Cather, “A Wagner Matinée” 226

Jack London, “To Build a Fire” 230

Jean Toomer, “Blood-Burning Moon” 233

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Babylon Revisited” 236

Ernest Hemingway, “Indian Camp” 241

John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums” 245

Eudora Welty, “Petrified Man” 249

William Faulkner, “Barn Burning” 253

Flannery O’Connor, “The River” 257

Tillie Olsen, “Help Her to Believe” [“I Stand Here Ironing”] 261

Raymond Carver, “Cathedral” 265

Louise Erdrich, “The Red Convertible” 269

Susan Minot, “Hiding” 273

Amy Tan, “The Joy Luck Club” 277

Tim O’Brien, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” 281

Jamaica Kincaid, “Columbus in Chains” 285

Judith Cofer, “Nada” 289

A Glossary for the Study of the American Short Story 293

Selected Books for Further Study of the American Short Story 303

Index 307