2008: 115. Great Modern Short Stories

“The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.”

~ First line of Heart of Darkness

Great Modern Short Stories, Bennett Cerf, ed.

This is a modern library collection, and contains almost no hyperbole at all in the title - these are great modern short stories.  The book includes (among others): Heart of Darkeness, by Joseph Conrad,* “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway, “I’m A Fool” by Sherwood Anderson, and “The Red Pony” by Steinbeck, which are some of the great short stories (though I think Darkness and the Red Pony are more novellas), plus a few others that are less well-known but still pretty intense - “The Prussian Officer” by D.H. Lawrence, “Ms. Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, and “Turn About” by William Faulkner (which is nothing like typical Faulkner, but was probably my favorite story in the book - it is about British and American soldiers during World War II and blew my mind).

There is so much to this collection that there is almost too much to say - I could write a post on Heart of Darkness alone, particularly in the wake of reading A Bend in the River (how alike they are, despite the cultural and historical differences in their authors), but what I am going to write about is “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” because I couldn’t get over how much I enjoyed this story - how great I thought it was.  I must admit that I have, historically, not been a big Hemingway fan.  In fact, my book club read The Old Man and the Sea last February, and I still haven’t finished it - and that is a 60 page book.   And I have tried and failed to read A Moveable Feast a number of times, and I am in super denial about the fact that the Modern Library Top 100 list includes so many novel by Papa.  And yet, I loved this story.  Wrote in the margins, copied quotes loved it.  The most famous line is, of course his put down/analysis of Fitzgerald:

    The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon.  They were dull and they were repetitious.  He remembered poor Julian, and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story that once began “The rich are different than you and me.” And someone had said to Julian, Yes, they have more money.  But that was not humorous to Julian. He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren’t it wrecked him just as much as any other thing had wrecked him.

But the whole thing is so well done, and the ticks that drive me crazy reading his longer works here make the story better and richer, and I am going to read more Hemingway short stories, at least.

*Which I am also counting as a re-read for my book resolutions, because I own it in stand alone book form, and hadn’t re-read it since I was studying the modern British novel in college. 


Date/Place Completed: 7/19/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Commuting Book; Book Resolution; Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017