"Like a quick puff of colored smoke..." Steinbeck, "The Chrysanthemums"

“Like a quick puff of colored smoke…” Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”

Here’s a couple short stories to check out this weekend. I apologize in advance for two New Yorker links; there’s not to many places rushing to give away free reads of good short stories. Anyway, enjoy!

The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck (originally published in The Long Valley, 1938)

It’s funny, I’ve never really thought of Steinbeck as a short story writer even though The Long Valley is a terrific collection (check out “Flight” for sure). I think this might actually be the first work I’ve read of his shorter than Of Mice and Men. It’s a little story about a woman who lives on a ranch with her husband and, despite all that room, never really gets to spread her wings. Instead of taking an active role in the business of ranching, she pours all her energy into her chrysanthemums which are her pride, her joy, and her achilles heel. It’s great early Steinbeck. I love reading stuff written by great writers before they got their sea legs.

Emergency” by Denis Johnson (originally published in Jesus’ Son: Short Stories, 1992)

This is a podcast from The New Yorker, because I didn’t want to publish the story online for a couple reasons. First, I only found copies that were scans of already shitty Xeroxes on college course webpages. If professors really want to infringe on copyrights and make an author’s work available to their students free of charge that badly they should bite the bullet and have a TA or work study student transcribe the text into a readable PDF. Second, Denis Johnson is one of my favorite authors and you should go buy his books, not read pieces of them online.

The Valetudinarian” by Joshua Ferris (originally published in The New Yorker).

I have no idea what a valetudinarian is but I look forward to finding out!I haven’t read this one yet but included it in lieu of “The Pilot,” another story by the same author that I really enjoyed. Joshua Ferris is an extremely talented writer and I highly recommend his novel And Then We Came to the End. I recently reread “The Pilot” in an anthology and remembered how smart and affecting it was.The author is currently working on his second novel, which I look forward to reading when it’s released later this year.


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