Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: "Girl with an Ax" i(John Sanford) FROM SEA TO STORMY SEA and BEST MYSTERY STORIES of 2020


It is easy to see why this story was chosen for the best stories of 2020. Sanford is a master at character, atmosphere, place, all of it. Lots of readers especially of the mystery genre, claim they want action and yet there is no action in this story. It is all about the creation of a place and the people who inhabit it. Such lovely writing.

A woman finds her neighbor dead. She notifies the police, and the older woman's family comes and hires our protagonist to clean the digs out. They pay her almost nothing for her trouble and still she comes out on top because of their greed and haste in hiring her and selling the house. They want to beat the traffic home and sell the house in a quick sale. Great detail about the music business, the art of Thomas Hart Benton, and Hollywood in a few thousand words. 

Lawrence Block asked writers to choose a painting and write a story about it. This is not so easy to pull off. Sanford certainly excelled at not being driven by the painting he chose.

Kevin Tipple

Jerry House 

George Kelley 

Casual Debris 


Todd Mason


Margot Kinberg said...

I love that idea of being prompted by a painting, Patti. So much possibility there.

Casual Debris said...

Good morning. We did the same exercise in a writing class at university--can't recall for the life of me the name of the artist I chose, but the painting is ingrained in my skull.

Here is my entry this week:


Diane Kelley said...

I think Lawrence Block is an underrated anthology editor. FROM SEA TO STORMY SEA is just one of his better efforts. I've read Block's anthologies and liked them all.

Jeff Meyerson said...

My too, George. I liked this one and this is a good choice, obviously.

I'm finishing hte second Dan Chaon collection, AMONG THE MISSING, today. It was published only six years after his first collection, but to me it was a huge step upwards. Very good book and I will be downloading the third collection as soon as I finish the last story. Most are set in or near Nebraska, where the author is from, and many are about lost young(ish) men. GOod writer.

Also read Marisa Silver's BABE IN PARADISE, which grew on me as it went along. I have her second collection so will be curious to see how that one was.

Todd Mason said...

Still writing mine, or reconsidering it, at this hour when I have to go Get My Shot, so I'll be (even) later than usual.

It didn't help that I slept in to a ridiculous extent. Still trying to get my hours reregulated.

And it should be recalled we all did our own fiction in response to paintings and other visual art as one of your charitable challenges back when:

pattinase (abbott) said...

That was my favorite challenge. Such
great stories came out of it. I like Chaon too although his stories more than his novels.

TracyK said...

Patti, Neeru did a Short Story Wednesday post at

I have not read any short stories lately but I did get two short story books in the mail today, because I cannot stop buying them: FATHER BROWN SHORT STORIES, G.K. Chesterton, with the stories from The Innocence of Father Brown and The Wisdom of Father Brown, and SORRY FOR YOUR TROUBLE by Richard Ford.

I was late today because Glen and I both had Annual Wellness visits to our doctor this morning.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Tracy. I will check for his.
I have never read the FATHER BROWN stories. I will look for them. THanks. Hope you are both in tiptop shape. Or as well as we can expect at our ages.

Todd Mason said...

At last, the mouse emerges:

I wonder if the conservative Catholic underpinnings of the Father Brown stories will register, one way or another. It's harder to miss in some than others, as I recall dimly.