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Points Of View

Posted in book reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2011 by acousticchick

‘Points of View’ isn’t just a plain old short story anthology. Oh, no. Not only do you get to read a wide variety of stories (and by “wide variety” I mean that half of them sucked), but you also get to add a few notches to your intellectual bedpost. Originally a textbook, ‘Points of View’ features eleven categories, each preceded by a quick explanation of the perspective in which the following stories were written.

Instead of giving a run-down of each of the stories in ‘Points of View’ (there are over forty), I’m going to pick three to be Grand Master Champion Short Stories. To maintain the spirit of this blog, only stories written by now-dead authors get trophies, though half the stories I actually enjoyed were penned by people who are still alive. They get honorable mentions before the award ceremony. So let’s give a big round of applause for…

  • ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ by Lorrie Moore, for an accurate portrayal of the role doubt plays in romantic relationships,
  • ‘My Sister’s Marriage’ by Cynthia Marhsall Rich, even though I’m not sure if she’s still alive or not (a thousand points to whomever finds out), and
  • ‘The Circuit’ by Francisco Jimené z, for making me sad.

The first and second runners-up are ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘First Confession’ by Frank O’Connor. I really liked both stories for different reasons. The first is creepy and suspenseful (something that’s usually easier to pull off in movies than in writing), and the second handles the mix of religion and childhood with humor.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

In third place is ‘The Stone Boy’ by Gina Berriault. Berriault weaves several conflicting emotions together by placing her main character in a situation that would be damning if he were an adult.

Second place goes to ‘Doby’s Gone’ by Ann Petry. This story is also told from a child’s perspective, and I’m always impressed when authors get this point of view right. Ann Petry strikes the right balance of simplicity and depth, using an imaginary friend to symbolize the move from innocence to experience.

And the winner of the gold medal and a brand new car is ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson. This story takes first place purely because I can’t say a word about it without ruining it, and you’ll only know that’s not a cop-out if you read it.