Short Story #365: Red Bonnet by Lindsay Patterson

Title:  Red Bonnet

Author:  Lindsay Patterson

Summary
Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The neighborhood is shocked when Granma Jo gets up and walks one day.  The narrator witnesses this and so do others but Granma Jo's daughter and her husband find the story completely unlikely.  Despite the narrator's insistence, the daughter disregards and is angered by the suggestion.  More people witness this and bring this to the daughter but since she never sees it, she continues to insist that everyone is lying.  After trying to get her to walk in front of the daughter, people soon give up and things go back to normal for a while.  One day in August, the narrator finds Granma Jo is up and moving about, ready to go to town.  The narrator walks with her through the heat and they perform some tasks in town.  When it is time to go, they get onto a bus and then Granma Jo's give out on her and she tries to sit in the front row.  The bus driver throws them off when they refuse to move to the back.  They catch a ride home with someone else.  However, the action gained a lot of attention and the white folks in town came to the daughter's house and called names at Granma Jo for sitting in the wrong part of the bus.  They eventually disperse but when the narrator is sleeping that night, she smells smoke and they discover the daughter's house is on fire.  Later, they only discover two bodies.  They never find the third but the narrator says she regularly sees Granma Jo out at night with her red bonnet walking around.  


Reflection
I wasn't sure where the story was going at first.  It seemed like just a strange tale about an obstinate grandmother.  However, once they introduced the bus and her trying to sit at the front, it became quite intriguing as another means of talking about race and society.


Short Story #365 out of 365
Rating:  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.




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My New Book: 10 Classic Tales of Horror

So I could mark this down as a goal achieved already for 2015, but I most likely won't.  I did want to share with people this book that I published.  It is an anthology of horror stories:  10 Classic Tales of Horror to be precise that I pulled together with introductions to make and publish.  My purpose in doing so wasn't to just put it out there and make a quick buck; my purpose was to see how easily and cheaply it can be done.  

One project that I am involved in at work is an Open Textbook Initiative as part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement.  To that end, we have been looking at ways of making learning materials available for students for free or a reasonable price.  Questions arise about OER with regards to how students can access them, particularly in print form.  Some OER resources provide physical copies for purchase that are significantly cheaper than their commercial counterparts.  However, I wanted to think about the idea of an instructor pulling together OER resources into book of sorts and what would that look like if the instructor wanted students to afford a cheap physical copy.  
Book Cover - 10 Classic Tales of Horror - Lance Eaton

This approach grabbed me because I teach literature and we are often using anthologies.  I wanted to think about how I might pull together works that are in the public domain for my students to access as a physical text.  Therefore, I make the 10 Classic Tales of Horror as an experiment.  I used Amazon's self-publishing platform, CreateSpace, which made it quite simple (once I actually read the instructions on formatting the Word Document, I had it all in). 

Right now, the physical book is around $10 on Amazon and is about 438 pages.  That's a reasonable price if this were a full collection of course materials that students could now have in hand.  The Kindle digital version of the book is currently listed for $ .99 but I am working on a means of getting the price lowered to $0.00 if possible.  The cost for the physical book is purely the cost of production and I make 0.00 on each unit sold. 

My goal in creating this is to not make a profit in any capacity and in doing so, provide a path for faculty to published their own content for their students in the forms that they are interested in pursuing.  Even if I can't get the Kindle verson to $0.00, I can always make the PDF available to students just as I have made it available below.  

For those interested, here are the links and let me know what you think--both about the book and the process.

Be sure to tell me what you think if you happen to purchase or download it for free!




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Short Story #364: The Death of Tommy Grimes by R. J. Meaddough III

Title:  The Death of Tommy Grimes

Author:  R. J. Meaddough III

Summary
Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Tommy has been instructed by his father to lie still and wait.  He flashes back to earlier in his life when Tommy had trouble shooting at things and his father chastised him for this and then spent endless hours training Tommy to shoot.  One evening, his Pa mentions that he and his friends are going hunting for some bucks and Tommy asks if he can go too.  His father warns that it could be dangerous but Tommy insists on going.  The father explains that they need to put down an animal that is doing damage and just needs to be killed.  Tommy accepts that and asks about something his father had said before about dying.  Pa explains that a bit of person dies when he kills something and that it will keep happening until the person is dead inside.  Tommy awaits the buck as the day continues.  Finally, there is movement and he shoots.  He is excited and calls for his Pa but when his Pa doesn't initially answer, he thinks he killed his Pa.  They go over to the body and then go to camp where Tommy is celebrated for killing his first African American.  He feels happy now that he belongs.

Reflection
This is definitely a story that packed a hard punch.  I didn't anticipate the buck to be an African American and found the training that took place even more damning once that came to light.  


Short Story #364 out of 365
Rating:  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.




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Short Story #363: A New Day by Charles Wright

Title:   A New Day

Author:  Charles Wright

Summary
Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Lee takes a new job that he hopes has a better return on his time and investment than his current job.  He is concerned about whether it will come through in all the ways that he hopes, but he decides to go out for the position.  The job is with Mrs. Davies, someone the family used to work for in the south, which has Lee a bit hesitant as he anticipates some of the same issues to follow that plagued the south.  He goes to the hotel where Mrs. Davies will be staying and knocks on her door.  She lets him in and introduces himself.  She gives him some orders and they go for a drive before he prepares her meal.  Slowly, Lee learns her preferences and idiosyncrasies.  He is dismissed to go have his lunch.  While there, he hears her scream out the N word.  In the midst of his meal, Lee tries to process what's going on.  He tries to ignore it and continue his meal when she yells it again.  Lee is challenged by the sound and filled with both rage and helplessness.  After a third time, he manages to drink his beer, eat, and smoke a cigarette.  Then he finally goes to inquiry about her call.  She says she did call him and that she believed they would get along well because she appreciates people who can think before they answer.   

Reflection
I found this to be one of the heavier tales that I've read.  Lee has clearly worked hard and his job with Mrs. Davies seems like a good move forward but seems so clearly a step back too.  Though she hires him at the end, it's hard to say that it is a good thing for Lee who has had to swallow his self-respect in order to keep  from doing something bad.  


Short Story #363 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.




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Another Round of Changing Lives Through Literature

Sign of a person reading.  Image source: http://pixabay.com/p-99244/?no_redirect

Choking back tears of joy tempered by endured pain, the participant relates how the Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) has profoundly affected her in ten short weeks. Meeting on Thursday evenings in Salem throughout October was challenging, but the participants are all smiles and eloquent as they discuss how the program has touched them.  It’s powerful to witness and as facilitator, there is no greater joy. 

CLTL is a program for people on probation where there are probation officers and court officials to support the program.  Participants meet weekly and discuss an assigned reading by a volunteer facilitator.  The power of communing around literature creates rich and diverse conversations.   The program allows participants to reflect and share; ultimately, an opportunity to consider their own lives.  There’s growing research that the program has a positive influence on recidivism rates.  Another body of research connects reading literature with increased empathy, which could explain the reduction in recidivism. 

Image of a heart with books inside.  Image Source: http://pixabay.com/p-112117/?no_redirect
Artistic endeavors are central to human existence.  Many have experienced a life-altering encounter with the arts.  CLTL helps participants find deeper and more positive meaning in their life, enough to change their lives.  With the end of another session of CLTL, I would like to profoundly thank Salem Access Television for volunteering a meeting space.  I also thank the Salem Probation Department including Dolores Gormley, Richard Ferrino, Jeff Dowd, & Julie Abreu, along with Judge Robert Brennan for their support, and of course, the participants.

Visit the Changing Lives Through Literature website for more information about CLTL.



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Short Story #362: The Day The World Almost Came to an End by Pearl Crayton

Title:  The Day The World Almost Came to an End

Author:  Pearl Crayton

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator explains that when he was twelve years old, he was committed to being a sinner.  However, he lived with a family and community whose lives revolved around the Church. One, her cousin Rena insists that the world is coming to an end because she heard her mom and another woman discussing it and that it would happen with the eclipse that's occurring in two days.  Rena insists but the narrator finds fault with her claims.  However, when a woman comes by affirms what Rena is saying, the narrator becomes lost in thinking about what that could mean for her.  Later when her dad comes home, she asks him if the world is going to end and explains why she is concerned.  He says that it's nothing to worry about and that the world is going to end when it's going to end.  This only convinces the narrator that it will end sooner rather than later.  Unable to be calmed, she stays up all night worrying about the end of the world and counting up all her sins.  During the night, she begins to hear a louder and louder rumbling.  She jumps out of bed and begins crying that the world is ending.  She runs out of the house and down the street, only to be confronted by her father and other deacons.  He explains that the noise was an approaching airplane, something she was not used to hearing.  He returns her to bed and she finds herself infused with a great sense and appreciation of life.

Reflection

I didn't find this story particularly enjoyable.  It felt more like a child's story than one geared towards an adult--that is, a human version of chicken-little.  
Short Story #362 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #361: Junkie-Joe Had Some Money by Ronald Milner

Title:  Junkie-Joe Had Some Money

Author:  Ronald Milner

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.

The narrator insists that Junkie-Joe had some money, even though most thought he was just a poor junk man.  The narrator explains that he knew but no one would believe him on account of him being twelve years old.  Even the boy notes that as a twelve-year-old, he can discuss the simple right and wrong things but there are greater goods and evils that are harder to articulate.  Because of this, he was inclined like others his age to go along to get along.  Thus, he too regularly teased Junkie-Joe.  One time, when he was walking about he saw Junkie-Joe's place and what appeared to be smoke and fire.  He goes into Joe's place to warn him and encounters two men that he doesn't know.  They ask what he's doing there and the boy explains.  The two men bicker about what to do with the boy and murder is certainly an option.  Finally, they warn him to keep his mouth shut or they will come after him and send him back outside.  The boy runs home and washes himself up.  In the aftermath, the boy's hunger decreases while his desire to run increases.  The result is that he ends up hospitalized with pneumonia.  However, it's a few years later now and he still feels the need to run everywhere as he still sees the two men that killed Junkie-Joe.

Reflection

A rather sad story but one that captures much about the challenges of youth.  The boy grapples with what is right and wrong while also trying to think about what he can do to avoid being hurt.  Coupled with this is the challenge that comes with not being believable to adults, which makes him even more uncertain about what to do and where to go.  
Short Story #361 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.    

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #360: To Hell With Dying by Alice Walker

Title:  To Hell With Dying 

Author:  Alice Walker

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Mr. Sweet is an old man suffering from diabetes and alcoholism.  Though he had dreams as a child, he eventually settled with a wife who had a child that she spoiled and the boy did not amount to much.  In his later years, Mr. Sweet is befriended by the narrator's family who seem to be essential in keeping him alive at times.  Whenever it seemed that Mr. Sweet was on the brink of death, the narrator's family would be called upon to visit.  They would circle around the bed and the youngest child (the narrator), would kiss Mr. Sweet's face all over and tickle him until he had recovered.  Mr. Sweet is a regular part of the narrator's life growing up.  He plays with the children and is well liked by many.  The narrator recalls him playing his guitar and being quite kind to her growing up.  She recalls the first time that she got to participate in the ritual as the kisser/tickler.  She remembers visiting with the family and hearing a doctor say that it was terminal, only for the family to revive him as they always did.  The years pass and around Mr. Sweet's 90th birthday, the narrator is called to help once more, though she is working on a dissertation.  She races home and with her family they visit Mr. Sweet.  She performs the ritual one more time but he still dies.  Though she is an adult and knows their ritual didn't necessarily have any power to prolong Mr. Sweet's life, she is devastated all the same.  She realizes that Mr. Sweet was her first love in her life.

Reflection

The story is a beautiful telling of tradition, family, and nostalgia.  I like that the narrator identifies the man as her first love because there is indeed a purity and beauty to the relationship between the two that Walker traces out quite well.  
Short Story #360 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #359: The Burglar by Lebert Bethune

Title:  The Burglar 

Author:  Lebert Bethune

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Mary steps into her car and begins to sob.  Her friend, Carol comforts her and says that it will only be a short while that her husband will be away.  Mary is consoled enough to drive.  However, it is explained later that Mary was crying with relief, not with sadness.  Since their moving to Dar es Salaam, she found it hard to love her husband except when he was absent.  While driving, they almost hit a hyena that is crossing the street.  They get to Carol's house and Carol has insists that Mary call her as soon as Mary gets home.  She contemplates her marriage as she drives home.  She arrives home and realizes that her windows had been left open and parts of the house got wet because it is pouring rain.  She changes clothes when she gets to her bedroom.  She takes note of her body as she changes clothes.  She begins to contemplate what she would look like if she were African.  This also leads her to think about the strange differences in the local culture and her own experiences with locals.  The phone rings and it is Carol checking in.  She lays down to dream and awakes partly through to an intense silence.  She sees a man near the window.  He is a tall naked African and she is thrilled by his presence.  However, in her excitement, she releases a moan and with that, he disappears out the window.  Mary is left clutching her breasts and weeping.

Reflection

There's much going on here with Mary and her sexuality.  When she is poising naked and wondering what she would look like as an African, there are some specific lines (particularly to lips) that are clearly double entendres.  The ending is a bit perplexing though it seems in some ways that this is indeed her dream.  She never initially awakes but rather this is her dream.
Short Story #359 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967. 

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #358: Miss Luhester Gives a Party by Ronald Fair

Title:  Miss Luhester Gives a Party

Author:  Ronald Fair

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Luhester is quite the phenomenon in her neighborhood.  She owns a house, has five children by presumably five different fathers, and has never married.  But she is absolutely adored by everyone who meets her and therefore she is well looked after by everyone around.  The narrator explains that everybody did their part to help her and would regularly go out of their way to do so.  This included helping her clean up and fix up her house.  In her gratitude, she decides to throw a party for everyone that has helped.  The oldest daughter is sent out to invite people and as she does, places shut down and people leave to get ready.  Not everyone is invited.  It's known that her parties are filled with alcohol, food, sex, and fighting.  This party quickly descends at one point to which people are passed out while others are breaking and stealing stuff.  It's on this note that the narrator remarks (as he's stealing records) that it was indeed the best party ever thrown at Luhester's house.  

Reflection

Quite a revelry and bacchanalia going on at Luhester's house.  Since some of the facts are unclear, I'm not sure how I entirely feel about the story.  There are parts where it discusses girls going upstairs with men repeatedly.  I'm not quite sure if these were Luhester's daughters and if so, how old they were.  There is a sense of full circle with the story though in that the house which was fixed in the fall, seems to be ruined in the spring and one wonders if this is how the house is cycled each year.
Short Story #358 out of 365
Rating:  2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #357: Mother To Son by Conrad Kent Rivers

Title:  Mother To Son

Author:  Conrad Kent Rivers

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The story begins with an officer escorting Minnie Peoples into a room.  She is clearly distressed and the reader soon discovers that she's been called in to identify a body that might be her son.  The officers are hoping that this will be an easy identification and they can go home as their shift is ending.  However, Minnie insists that it isn't her son.  The officers try to verify this and she insists that it isn't.  In fact, she continues to insist this after they have relented.  She also remarks that one of the officers was the first African American officer on the police for and he is a "credit to your race."  The officers ask why the boy had a picture of her on him and she explained that there were many photos of her made when she was running for a competition in a newspaper. Finally, the officers order the morgue to move the body into the section for unidentified bodies.


Reflection

The story hints at much without fully telling what is going on.  The officers can hear a superior officer lecturing about corruption in an adjacent room to the graveyard shift and they themselves are eager to be done with the place.  Minnie fiercely claims the body isn't her child but one can't but wonder what her sigh represents at the end of the story: relief or further angst.
Short Story #357 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #356: Singing Dinah's Song by Frank London Brown

Title:  Singing Dinah's Song

Author:  Frank London Brown

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator remarks that a gypsy woman told him to beware of songs that will not leave him and this leads him to talk about his friend Daddy-O whom he worked with at Electronic Masters, Inc.  It's a pretty monotonous chop of repetitive motions and the narrator does his best to recall music (particular Dinah Washington) in order to pass the time.  His friend however started to sing such songs aloud while working at the machines.  Some time later, the narrator is working in the morning when his friend walks in.  The narrator was already exhausted from work and was finding himself also starting to slip into the rhythm of the music in order to complete this tasks.  Daddy-O walks into work dressed up rather fancy.  He walks straight to his machine, skipping the punch-in clock and the narrator mentions this but Daddy-O doesn't respond.  He eventually lights a cigarette and goes to the boss's office and the narrator assumes he is going to quit.  However, Daddy-O returns and begins to mess around with the machine when the boss yells at him to keep him from electrocuting himself.  Daddy-O continues and then several men confront him.  However, he refuses to move away from the machine and threatens anyone that does.  The confrontation goes on and the narrator tries to intervene but to no success.  He then tries to get the telephone number of Daddy-O's wife so she can come and help.  While he is trying to get a hold of his wife, the boss calls the police who show up rather quick to the narrator's consternation (given it takes hours for them to show up when he calls them where he lives).  The officers are ready to assault Daddy-O but the narrator intervenes and works to convince Daddy-O to get into the police car willingly.  When the officers get too touchy, Daddy-O swings at them and is then knocked unconscious with a club.  After Daddy-O is taken away, the narrator continues to think about the music and how it worked its way inside Daddy-O.  He wonders if it is doing the same to him.  

Reflection

The story feels bleak down to its bones.  The madness that inhabits Daddy-O is tragic and haunting as it slowly begins to creep into the narrator.  
Short Story #356 out of 365
Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #355: Son in the Afternoon by John A. Williams

Title:  Son in the Afternoon

Author:  John A. Williams

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator, Wendell, explains that the summer sun is doing a number on him.  He is an African American writer who checks Hollywood scripts to make sure there is nothing offensive in the script to alienate the population.  He is going over to Santa Monica to pick up his mother who works as a nanny to a rich family, the Couchmans.  He remarks about how strange it is that the folk who hire help know so little about the help and yet the help learns many of the intimate details of the rich people's lives.  He enters begrudgingly by way of the kitchen to find his mother.  She invites him to relax as she is tending to Couchman's child who is sick and she is uncertain where or when the mother will be back as she likes to go off tanning during the sunny days.  The boy at one point yells and orders around the Wendell's mother and Wendell barks at him in retort.  The mother comforts Couchman's child and Wendell reflects on how much love and attention this child gets throughout the day from his mother even though he and his siblings got so little while growing up with the same woman.  He goes outside where Mrs. Couchman is pulling up in her Jaguar.  They begin to chat and Wendell purposely comments on how nice her tan is, knowing that she will appreciate such a comment from an African American but finding the effort to tan ridiculous.  However, he begins to make the moves on her and she is clearly into him, but then the child begins to call and look for her.  She tries to back away from his embrace and kiss, but he won't let her.  His goal for the boy to see the image of them together and so it happens.  Mrs. Couchman is stunned by it all and Wendell then finds his mother and leaves.

Reflection

Such a weighty story with many avenues wherein Williams discusses the nature of black-white relations, even among the successful.  One passage I found striking with all that it contains as it speaks to the glaring contrast of the racial politics as well as to the frustration:

"Most white people i know think it's a great big deal if a Negro compliments them on their tans.  It's a large laugh.  You have all this volleyball about color and come summer you can't hold the white folks back from the beaches, anyplace where they can get some sun.  And of course the blacker they get, the more pleased they are.  Crazy.  If there is ever a Negro revolt, it will come during the summer and Negroes will descend upon the beaches around the nation and paralyze the country.  You can't conceal cattle prods and bombs and pistols and police dogs when you're showing your birthday suit to the sun."  

Short Story #355 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Short Story #354: The Checkerboard by Alston Anderson

Title:  The Checkerboard

Author:  Alston Anderson

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator sits playing checkers with his father when the mother begins to berate the father about chopping wood and getting corn.  The boy contemplates his moves against his father who is a skillful player.  While the father is away, the boy tries to cheat but it backfires when his father returns and makes a strong counter move.  The mother continues to nag and sends the father off to chop wood.  At dinner, the mother continues to critique the father, the brother, and the narrator on a variety of topics.  Every time the father retorts to the mother, she becomes defensive and tells him not to yell at her.  When the brothers jokingly whack at one another, the mother grows angry and the father yells at her to just leave people alone.  The mother breaks down crying and saying how little she is respected in the house.  Brother and father leave the table while the narrator stays by and tries to console his mother, all the while trying to think about how he could best his father at checkers next time.

Reflection

The story is curious because on one hand, the reader is confronted with the stereotypical nagging female and what appears to be three males who are subject to her wrath.  However, the final explosion of the mother also reveals that there is much to this story that the reader is not getting.  That in fact, the reader is only witnessing the story through the eyes of a child whose focus is on checkers and not the bigger issues in the world or even the family for that matter.


Short Story #354 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.    

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #353: Santa Claus Is A White Man by John Henrik Clarke

Title:  Santa Claus Is A White Man

Author:  John Henrik Clarke

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
After Randall is given a quarter by his mother, he is instructed to go downtown and buy nice presents for the family for Christmas.  Randall is excited to be able to give to his family and so heads downtown with excitement.  As he gets to the shopping area, he encounters a sad-looking Santa who he knows is not the real Santa but just one of his affiliates.  This part of town is filled with poor white folks and Randall recognizes a group of white kids that are clearly hoodlums.  He tries to avoid them but they hone in on him and begin to bully him.  Santa even joins in on the teasing.  They eventually decide to lynch him and one boy goes to find a rope.  When they realize he has a quarter, they take it from him.  The boy returns with rope for lynching but the Santa figure changes his mind about that.  The boy is disappointed but it is assuaged when Santa gives him the quarter taken from Randall.  The crowd is pleased with this.  Bidding his time, Randall seizes an opportunity to make a run for it and he does, while the boys throw rocks at him.  Randall makes his way home and determines that he will explain what happened to his quarter but no one else.  However, he can't bring himself to discuss Santa Claus as he is so saddened his actions.

Reflection

This was a very curious story.  Again, in some ways it is the typical tale of innocence lost but the means by which it is lost is what is most fascinating.  I also like how Clarke provides us with a child who may speak like a child but we see a much richer interior world.
Short Story #353 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #352: The Pocketbook Game by Alice Childress

Title:  The Pocketbook Game

Author:  Alice Childress

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Mildred appears to be on the telephone with Marge.  She explains that working as a house cleaner at different houses is a learning experience rather than just one because one witnesses many different things.  She explains that one of her clients, Mrs. E. has some strange ways about her.  In particular, whenever she is around, she holds tight to her big pocketbook as if Mildred would steal it.  After months of this, Mildred decides to call her on it but not directly.  Mrs. E. asks her to get the superintendent of the building.  She leaves but comes back into the room and says that she left her pocketbook.  She leaves and gets the superintendent.  Later, Mrs. E. says that she hopes Mildred doesn't think Mrs. E. distrusts her.  Mildred retorts that she would be suspect too of Mildred given how little Mrs. E. pays her.  

Reflection

It's a short and quick story but so easily captures the tension that comes with being a minority in a culture that has historically misrepresented African Americans intentionally across media.  Mildred's retort captures so much of the hypocrisy within the system that both underpays and raises questions about the morality of minorities.
Short Story #352 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #351: The Stick Up by John Oliver Killens

Title:  The Stick Up

Author:  John Oliver Killens

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator is enjoying himself while taking a walk through the park.  He observes the different sites and people enjoying the day as well.  When walking back home near the park exit, a large white man blocks his way and tells him it's a stick up.  The man then says he's only joking but hopes the man can give him some change.  The narrator says he doesn't have change to offer and continues to walk.  The man persists, putting his arm around the narrator and insists that he's not like other bums.  The narrator grows frustrated at the man's insistence but the man pulls out a picture of his family.  The narrator continues to give cues that he needs to go but the man isn't listening.  He makes a plea about them being together and fighting against the North Vietnam.  Finally, the narrator insists he must go and walks to the corner.  The white man makes a derogatory comment about the narrator and with that, the narrator leaves.

Reflection

Killens sets up the story so that what is supposed to be an enjoyable engagement in Central Park becomes the center for racial and social strife.  That the white man cannot support himself and jumps upon one group (Vietnamese) to go after another (African American) touches upon some of the ways in which minority groups are played against one another by the dominant group.  
Short Story #351 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.