Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday’s Forgotten Short Stories

Some short tales for your consideration.

Cullen Gallagher introduced me to "Knock" by Fredric Brown. The engaging opening begins:
There is a sweet little horror story that is only two sentences long: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..."
Now, how can’t you finish reading that?

Then there are stories that stick in our noggins because of the endings or the promise of an ending like Frank R. Stockton’s 1882 masterpiece, "The Lady or the Tiger?" I read TIGER in grade school, which, along with “After Twenty Years” by O Henry, began my appreciation of the short.

And finally “Graveyard Shift” written by James Reasoner. I can’t really say much here without giving away a very fine story. A homerun outta the park this one. Hat tip: Juri Nummelin

For more FFBs click over to Pattinase.


Terrie Farley Moran said...

I loved O. Henry years ago and until you said it, I never realized how much he contributed to my love of the short story.


Charles Gramlich said...

Graveyard shift hits you where it hurts eh? Good stuff.

David Cranmer said...

Terrie, Good to hear from you! Yes, O Henry still packs a wallop after all these years and was a big influence on me. I like a good twist and he's the master of that particular ending.

Charles, It sure is. It may not classify as forgotten but before Juri posted it on his blog I was unaware of this gem. I've watched that amateur film at least five times.

Paul D Brazill said...

I also thank cullen for knock. and f.brown, who I'd never heard of.will chack out the others too.

sandra seamans said...

I remember reading "Tiger" in school also, David. I love how the ending leaves the reader up in the air. And O Henry is the master. I love how he could write in almost every genre. His western stories are great. "Jimmy Hayes and Muriel" is one of my favorites.

I've never read Mr. Brown so I went looking and found one called "Don't Look Behind You". Here's the first two sentences - "Just sit back and relax now. Try to enjoy this; it's going to be the last story you ever read, or nearly the last." Oh yeah, I'm off to my favorite reading chair.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great picks all, David.

David Cranmer said...

Paul, And that’s not the first good find I’ve discovered on Cullen’s blog. He really has a knack for unearthing buried treasure.

Sandra, Where’s the link for “Don’t look behind you?” I wouldn’t mind reading that today. Mr. Brown may be to openings what O Henry is to finales.

Patti, I enjoy doing short takes on short stories.

sandra seamans said...

Sorry, David, I found the story in an anthology I have called Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories Not for the Nervous published in 1965. I looked for a link online but couldn't find one. The opening was great and the story didn't disappoint. I've never read a story that was told like this one.

Randy Johnson said...

Those opening lines sparked an attempt way back when to make the shortest story by shortening words.
There was a lock on the door, there was a lox on the door, etc.

Sarah Laurence said...

Thanks for sharing your favorite shorts. Funny opening line. I love O'Henry, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Annie Proulx, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and Haruki Murakami for short stories. In general I tend to prefer novels.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Brown was a treasure. I'll never forget the story about the most powerful computer ever built. When it was complete, they asked it one of those deep and impossible questions for anyone to answer: "Is there a god?" And of course the computer answered: "Now there is."

David Cranmer said...

Sandra, I will go online and order a copy. I’m hooked.

Randy, Like my great Uncle Charlie use to say “Too much of anything, good for nothing.” I can imagine this style would grow old quick but it’s a nice change of pace from the way we plot today.

Sarah, You named some good ones and Ray Bradbury would definitely be in my top ten list. I’m listening to some old time radio sci-fi at the moment and the Bradbury penned tales are a breed apart.

Stewart, Thanks for stopping by and that story you mentioned seems indicative of this man’s genius as a writer.