Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Short Story Wednesday

Megan edited this collection for Busted Flush Press in 2007, long before she knew most of the writers found inside. It's a terrific collection and I am going to do a bad thing by picking one of the few male-authored stories as my favorite. 

"Uncle" by Daniel Woodrell is such a knockout I had to choose it. Not for the faint-hearted, it is the story of a young girl and her mother who are being terrorized by an uncle who grabs girls, brings them to the their shared home, and knocks them out or off, leaving his niece to clean up for him. One day, she's had enough and hits him over the head, the head injuries leaving him in an infantile state. Her mother gives her the task of minding him. She does her fair share of humiliating him by dressing him like a baby. but she does take care of him. Until something changes...

The thing about "Uncle" for me is not only the original, daring story, but the gorgeous writing. The first sentence, "A cradle won't hold my baby" is just genius to me. And all the rest of the words, sentences, paragraphs fall in line. Woodrell never loses the voice of an uneducated Ozark girl. You believe in her and the place she comes from.

This story appeared later in Woodrell's collection THE OUTLAW ALBUM. With the exception of WINTER'S BONE, I don't think Woodrell has gotten the attention he deserves. And now it's been a long time since his last novel so he may never get it. A shame.

Matt Paust

Steve Lewis 

Jerry House 

Richard Robinson 


Todd Mason


Jeff Meyerson said...

The Woodrell story was nominated for an Edgar for Best Short Story. The winner (which I don't know) was "The Golden Gopher" by Susan Straight from LOS ANGELES NOIR.

I did read that anthology. Just checked out the ebook of his collection. Thanks.

Between 1933 and 1937, F. Scott Fitgerald was hospitalized 8 times for alcoholism, as his career hit the skids as tastes changed and his writing no longer seemed relevant during the Depression. He was still being published in The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire, the latter of which published his "An Alcoholic Case" in 1937. The writer (here a cartoonist) is only seen as a pathetic alcoholic through the eyes of the nurse who is hired to take care of him (and prevent him from drinking, where possible). It is interesting to me in reading these to see that, as badly as Fitzgerald was doing then - in 1936, he only made $80 in royalties - his characters (and, presumably, Fitzgerald himself) still had maids and housekeepers and nannies. He died in 1940. He was only 44.

Todd Mason said...

The SAT EVE POST and to a lesser extent ESQUIRE paid a Fortune for their contributions in the '[expletive]-hoo if he made $40 on royalties in '36, if he was still placing stories or other pieces with those magazines at the same time. Book publishers were Not your most reliable source of income in those years. Patti can tell you of how careless Curtis Publishing was with money into the late '60s, when it was no longer a ceaseless tide washing through the offices...because it used to be. But quite aside from his other, very real problems, I can see FSF as the kind of guy who would be Vexed that his books weren't feeding the estate and magazines were doing so instead.

Barrie said...

I love short stories. I'll check out Daniel Woodrell. Thanks!

pattinase (abbott) said...

He is probably better known for his novels, Barrie.

Todd Mason said...

Mine up, Patti!

TracyK said...

I have one book by Woodrell, TOMATO RED, and I haven't read it yet. Maybe starting with a short story is the way to go.

Todd Mason said...

The SATURDAY EVENING POST was probably paying Fitzgerald a top rate, such 2-3K per short story, in 1930s dollars...ESQUIRE and REDBOOK perhaps were merely somewhere between $500-1K, REDBOOK, ESKY though probably both on the high end, along with LIBERTY and COLLIER'S stablemate THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE at least within shooting distance of the SEP. So...THE NEW YORKER in this era would be one of his lowest-paying markets. He might not've been satisfied with what he was writing for them...but even with the hospital bills and staff (and where were they likely to go during the Depression?), he wasn't going hungry, I suspect.
On Schedule (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Mar 18 1933
More than Just a House (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Jun 24 1933
I Got Shoes (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Sep 23 1933
The Family Bus (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Nov 4 1933
“Show Mr. and Mrs.—” [with Zelda Fitzgerald] (ar) Esquire May 1934
No Flowers (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Jul 21 1934
Auction—Model 1934 [with Zelda Fitzgerald] (ar) Esquire Jul 1934
New Types (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Sep 22 1934
In the Darkest Hour (ss) Redbook Magazine Oct 1934
Her Last Case (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Nov 3 1934
Sleeping and Waking (ar) Esquire Dec 1934
The Fiend (ss) Esquire Jan 1935
The Night Before Chancellorsville (ss) Esquire Feb 1935
Shaggy’s Morning (ss) Esquire May 1935
The Passionate Eskimo (ss) Liberty Jun 8 1935
The Count of Darkness (ss) Redbook Magazine Jun 1935
The Intimate Strangers (ss) McCall’s Jun 1935
Zone of Accident (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Jul 13 1935
The Kingdom in the Dark (ss) Redbook Magazine Aug 1935
The Crack-Up (ar) Esquire Feb 1936
Pasting It Together (ar) Esquire Mar 1936
Too Cute for Words (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Apr 18 1936
Fate in Her Hands (ss) The American Magazine Apr 1936
Handle with Care (ar) Esquire Apr 1936
Image on the Heart (ss) McCall’s Apr 1936
Three Acts of Music (ss) Esquire May 1936
Inside the House (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Jun 13 1936
The Ants at Princeton (hu) Esquire Jun 1936
Author’s House (ss) Esquire Jul 1936
Afternoon of an Author (ss) Esquire Aug 1936
An Author’s Mother (ss) Esquire Sep 1936
“I Didn’t Get Over” (ss) Esquire Oct 1936
“Send Me In, Coach” (ss) Esquire Nov 1936
An Alcoholic Case (ss) Esquire Feb 1937
Trouble (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Mar 6 1937
The Honor of the Goon (ss) Esquire Jun 1937
A Book of One’s Own (ss) The New Yorker Aug 21 1937
The Long Way Out (ss) Esquire Sep 1937
The Guest in Room Nineteen (ss) Esquire Oct 1937
In the Holidays (ss) Esquire Dec 1937
Financing Finnegan (ss) Esquire Jan 1938
Design in Plaster (ss) Esquire Nov 1939
Strange Sanctuary (ss) Liberty Dec 9 1939
The Lost Decade (ss) Esquire Dec 1939
Pat Hobby’s Christmas Wish (ss) Esquire Jan 1940 [Pat Hobby]
A Man in the Way (ss) Esquire Feb 1940 [Pat Hobby]
“Boil Some Water - Lots of It” (ss) Esquire Mar 1940 [Pat Hobby]
Teamed with Genius (ss) Esquire Apr 1940 [Pat Hobby]
Pat Hobby and Orson Welles (ss) Esquire May 1940 [Pat Hobby]
The End of Hate (ss) Collier’s Jun 22 1940
Pat Hobby’s Secret (ss) Esquire Jun 1940 [Pat Hobby]
Pat Hobby, Putative Father (ss) Esquire Jul 1940 [Pat Hobby]
The Homes of the Stars (ss) Esquire Aug 1940 [Pat Hobby]
Pat Hobby Does His Bit (ss) Esquire Sep 1940 [Pat Hobby]
A Wonderful Time (ss) The New Yorker Oct 19 1940
Pat Hobby’s Preview (ss) Esquire Oct 1940 [Pat Hobby]
No Harm in Trying (ss) Esquire Nov 1940
A Patriotic Short (ss) Esquire Dec 1940
On the Trail of Pat Hobby (ss) Esquire Jan 1941 [Pat Hobby]
Fun in an Artist’s Studio (ss) Esquire Feb 1941 [Pat Hobby]
Two Old-Timers (ss) Esquire Mar 1941
Mightier Than the Sword (ss) Esquire Apr 1941
Pat Hobby’s College Days (ss) Esquire May 1941 [Pat Hobby]
The Woman from Twenty-One (ss) Esquire Jun 1941
Three Hours Between Planes (ss) Esquire Jul 1941
Gods of Darkness (nv) Redbook Magazine Nov 1941

Jeff Meyerson said...

No, but he did have expenses. Zelda's treatment in "specialist clinics" wasn't cheap, I'm sure. Neither was his liquor bills. I'm sure he made way more than most people, but he probably spent it too.

Todd Mason said...

Indeed...would their daughter be out on her own by then, I should go look it up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Tomato Red is very dark. Winter's Bone is probably his least dark. Can't remember his other shorts.

Mathew Paust said...

Gadzooks, Todd, you must be one helluva fast typist!

Here's little comparison I did three years ago of Woodrell and Breece D'J Pancake, the latter a much better writer IMO.

Todd Mason said...

The FictionMags Index is a fine source of information that can be cut and pasted.

Mathew Paust said...

I was afraid you'd say that, Todd, spoiling the video in my head of your fingers flying over the keyboard faster than the wings of a hummingbird.

Todd Mason said...

No one wants to read the result of that. I do tend to type too quickly as it is.