Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Short Stories: #61-70

61. "The Open Window" (1914) by Saki. This is easily Saki's best-known work. A young woman relates the story of her aunt's open window, the belief her aunt has that one day her lost relatives will return to her. This being Saki, it's all about the cruel tricks people play on each other.

"The Open Window" can be found in Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. You can read the text online here.

62. "The Metamorphosis" (1915) by Franz Kafka. Another novella, this is the story of poor Gregor Samska, the man who awakens one morning to find he has become an insect. For him, this is the beginning of a terrible series of challenges. To his family, this is the start of new opportunities.

"The Metamorphosis" can be found in The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. You can read the text online here.

63. "The Interlopers" (1919) by Saki. An intense story of two men quarreling over their neighboring lands who find themselves pinned by a tree in the woods; suddenly, they are acutely aware of the futility of their feud, but they also realize that neither of them are the real interlopers; it builds to a final line that changes the whole story with just one word.

"The Interlopers" can be found in The Interlopers. You can read the text online here.

64. "Confession" (1921) by Algernon Blackwood. For my money, this is Blackwood's best tale. A shellshocked veteran wanders the foggy streets of London, trying desperately to overcome his terror, uncertain of whether the people he meets and the things he sees are real. When a woman is murdered, he doesn't know whether he's been framed for a crime or imagined the entire affair!

"Confession" can be found in . You can read the text online here.

65. "The Bamboo Trap" (1923) by Robert S. Lemmon. This obscure tale tells of a hunter sent to find a sample of a rare spider for his employers. After falling into an underground pit, he finds the good news: he's discovered the spiders' home. The bad news: he can't climb out.

66. "The Most Dangerous Game" (1924) by Richard Connell. The original and often-imitated story of the hunter who has tired of all normal game and has decided he needs prey which can think; in other words, he wants to hunt humans!

"The Most Dangerous Game" can be found in The Most Dangerous Game. You can read the text online here.

67. "Action" (1928) by Charles E. Montague. A gripping tale of a man who has lost all hope in living and prepared to die. Rather than suicide, he attempts to scale a sheer ice precipice so that he can go out struggling with nature. However, he's not alone on the wall of ice...

68. "When the World Screamed" (1929) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. One of Doyle's shorter tales of Professor Challenger, who debuted in the Lost World. Challenger is convinced that the Earth is itself a living organism and constructs a drill to prove his point. His goal? To awaken the Earth and make it acknowledge his existence! What some men will do for validation...

"When the World Screamed" can be found in The Complete Adventures of Professor Challenger. You can read the text online here.

69. "The Lily of St. Pierre" (1930) by Damon Runyon. Like most of Runyon's works, this is both amusing and tragic. After a bootlegger murders another criminal he relates the reasons why, relating a tale of his time in Canada where he befriended a man and his daughter, came to think of them as his own family and the tragedy that took them away.

"The Lily of St. Pierre" can be found in Guys and Dolls and Other Writings. You can read the text online here.

70. "Green Thoughts" (1932) by John Collier. A just plain odd story in which a botany enthusiast finds that his new plant has the ability to digest any living being, including full-grown humans. The botanist becomes his plant's victim, but that's only the beginning of the story!

"Green Thoughts" can be found in Fancies and Goodnights.

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