Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary / Edition 4

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This text is an exceptionally wide-ranging collection of stories, arranged alphabetically, that spans all genres of short fiction. New to this edition is our COMPANION WEBSITE®,, with additional links and study questions for students.

TURNITIN.COM: (—this new online resource is now available free to professors using SHORT FICTION, FIFTH EDITION., formerly, is a powerful tool to help instructors identify and prevent student plagiarism on the Web.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780134600499
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 10/13/1998
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 1264
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Table of Contents


The Truth of Fiction. The Experience of Fiction. The Elements of Fiction.


Who Are We as Readers? What Kind of Story Are We Reading? Asking Questions about the Story. Keeping a Reading Journal. Annotating a Story with Personal Impressions. Annotating a Story for the Elements of Fiction.


Dead Men's Path, Chinua Achebe.
A Bicycle, Iqbal Ahmad.
Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, Sherman Alexie.
And of Clay Are We Created, Isabel Allende.
Context: I'm Working on My Charm, Dorothy Allison.
I Want to Know Why, Sherwood Anderson.
Rape Fantasies, Margaret Atwood.
Context: My Mother Would Rather Skate Than Scrub Floors: An Interview with Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates.

Awakening, Isaac Babel.
Sonny's Blues, James Baldwin.
A Passion in the Desert, Honoré de Balzac.
The Lesson, Toni Cade Bambara.
Lost in the Funhouse, John Barth.
City of Churches, Donald Barthelme.
What Was Mine, Ann Beattie.
AnOccurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce.
The Other Duel, Jorge Luis Borges.
Context: Writing, a Conversation with Norman Thomas di Giovanni and Frank MacShane, Jorge Luis Borges.

The Werewolf, Angela Carter.
Cathedral, Ramond Carver.
Loverboys, Anna Castillo.
Paul's Case, Willa Cather.
The Swimmer, John Cheever.
A Writer in Depth: The Darling, Anton Chekhov. Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov. The Lady with the Dog, Anton Chekhov.
Context: Summary Observations on the Short Story, Harold Bloom. From His Letters, Anton Chekhov. Lady with the Little Dog, Vladimir Nabokov Chekhov.
A Writer in Depth: Regret, Kate Chopin. A Respectable Woman, Kate Chopin. The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin.
Context: On Certain Brisk, Bright Days, Kate Chopin.

Barbie-Q, Sandra Cisneros.
Context: Guadelupe the Sex Goddess, Sandra Cisneros.

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Samuel Clemens.
The Other Wife, Colette.
The Secret Sharer, Joseph Conrad.
Axolotl, Julio Cortázar.
The Open Boat, Stephen Crane.
Context: Stephen Crane's Own Story, Stephen Crane.

The Point, Charles D'Ambrosio.
Some Notes on Psychoanalysis and Writing, Leslie Dick.
The Blue Jar, Isak Dinesen.
A Writer in Depth: Battle Royal, Ralph Ellison. King of the Bingo Game, Ralph Ellison. A Party down at the Square, Ralph Ellison.
Context: What America Would Be Like without Blacks, Ralph Ellison.

Dry September, William Faulkner.
A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner.
A Scrap of Time, Ida Fink.
Babylon Revisited, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Context: The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Old Woman Magoun, Mary Wilkins Freeman.
Chac-Mool, Carlos Fuentes.
The Sky Is Gray, Ernest J. Gaines.
Tiny, Smiling Daddy, Mary Gaitskill.
Tuesday Siesta, Gabriel García Márquez.
Hollywood!, Dagoberto Gilb.
The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
A Jury of Her Peers, Susan Glaspell.
The Overcoat, Nikolai Gogol.
Context: The Legacy of Gogol's Overcoat, Frank O'Connor.

The Life of the Imagination, Nadine Gordimer.
Two Gentle People, Graham Greene.
The Birthmark, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Context: The Brief Prose Tale, Edgar Allan Poe.

Looking for a Rain God, Bessie Head.
Context: Let Me Tell a Story Now, Bessie Head.

Hills Like White Elephant, Ernest Hemingway.
Soldier's Home, Ernest Hemingway.
Spunk, Zora Neale Hurston.
The Lottery, Shirley Jackson.
Context: Biography of a Story, Shirley Jackson.

The Real Thing, Henry James.
Who's Irish, Gish Jen.
Car Crash While Hitchiking, Denis Johnson.
Araby, James Joyce.
A Writer in Depth: The Country Doctor, Frans Kafka. The Hunger Artist, Frans Kafka. The Metamorphosis, Frans Kafka.
Context: Summary Observations on the Short Story, Harold Bloom. From Somewhere Behind, Milan Kundera. The Metamorphosis, Vladimir Nabokov.

The Circling Hand, Jamaica Kincaid.
Girl, Jamaica Kincaid.
Not a Good Girl, Perri Klass.
Let the Old Dead Make Room for the Young Dead, Milan Kundera.
Context: From Somewhere Behind, Milan Kundera.

My Son the Fanatic, Hanif Kureishi.
Haircut, Ring Lardner.
My Vocation, Mary Lavin.
The Rocking-Horse Winner, D.H. Lawrence.
Gravity, David Leavitt.
The Professor's Houses, Ursula K. Le Guin.
Context: From Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?, Ursula K. Le Guin.

A Sunrise on the Veld, Doris Lessing.
Small Changes, Primo Levi.
Context: To a Young Reader, Primo Levi.

To Build a Fire, Jack London.
Half a Day, Naguib Mahfouz.
The Magic Barrel, Bernard Malamud.
A Dill Pickle, Katherine Mansfield.
Miss Brill, Katherine Mansfield.
Context: A Letter to John Murray, Katherine Mansfield.

Shiloh, Bobbie Ann Mason.
The Outstation, W. Somerset Maugham.
The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant.
Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville.
Patriotism, Yukio Mishima.
A Father, Bharati Mukherjee.
Boys and Girls, Alice Munro.
The Passenger, Vladimir Nabokov.
Context: Lady with the Little Dog, Vladimir Nabokov Chekhov. The Metamorphis, Vladimir Nabokov Kafka.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, Joyce Carol Oates.
Shopping, Joyce Carol Oates.
Context: The Making of a Writer, Joyce Carol Oates. My Mother Would Rather Skate Than Scrub Floors: An Interview with Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates.

The Creature, Edna O'Brien.
The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien.
Everything That Rises Must Converge, Flannery O'Connor.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor.
Context: Flannery O'Connor on Her Own Work.

Guests of the Nation, Frank O'Connor.
Context: The Legacy of Gogol's Overcoat, Frank O'Connor.

I Stand Here Ironing, Tillie Olsen.
A Conversation with My Father, Grace Paley.
A Writer in Depth: The Cask of the Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe. The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe. The Purloined Letter, Edgar Allan Poe.
Context: The Brief Prose Tale, Edgar Allan Poe.

The Flowering Judas, Katerine Anne Porter.
The Grave, Katherine Anne Porter.
Context: The Writing of The Flowering Judas, Katherine Anne Porter.

An Evening Meal, Reynolds Price.
A Writer in Depth: …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, Tomás Rivera. Looking for Borges, Tomás Rivera. The Salamanders, Tomás Rivera.
Context: Remembering, Discovery, and Volition in the Literary Imagination, Tomás Rivera.

The Conversion of the Jews, Philip Roth.
Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies, Salman Rushdie.
Context: Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist, Salman Rushdie.

The Lady of the Manor of Longeville, or a Woman's Revenge, Donatien Alphonse Francois compte de Sade.
Erostratus, Jean Paul Sartre.
Context: From For Whom Does One Write?, Jean Paul Sartre.

I-80 Nebraska, M.490-M.205, John Sayles.
The Mortal Immortal, Mary Shelley.
A Writer in Depth: Lullaby, Leslie Marmon Silko. Storyteller, Leslie Marmon Silko. Yellow Woman, Leslie Marmon Silko.
Context: An Interview with Leslie Marmon Silko, Kim Barnes.

Through the Story We Hear Who We Are, Leslie Marmon Silko.
Gimpel the Fool, Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Dummy, Susan Sontag.
Context: From Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag.

The Chrysanthemums, John Steinbeck.
A Pair of Tickets, Amy Tan.
The Death of Ivan Ilych, Leo Tolstoy.
A&P, John Updike.
The Verb to Kill, Luisa Valenzuela.
The Moths, Helena María Viramontes.
A Writer in Depth: Roselily, Alice Walker. To Hell with Dying, Alice Walker. The Welcome Table, Alice Walker.
Context: The Old Artist: Notes on Mr. Sweet, Alice Walker. An Interview with Eudora Welty, Alive Walker.

Suicide as a Sort of Present, David Foster Wallace.
Context: Act Natural, David Foster Wallace.

A Petrified Man, Eudora Welty.
A Worn Path, Eudora Welty.
Context: An Interview with Eudora Welty, Alice Walker. Is Phoenix Jackson's Grandson Really Dead, Eudora Welty.

Roman Fever, Edith Wharton.
Damballah, John Edgar Wideman.
The Use of Force, William Carlos Williams.
Newton, Jeanette Winterson.
Context: From A Work of My Own, Jeanette Winterson.

Kew Gardens, Virginia Woolfe.
Context: From Craftmanship, Virginia Woolf.

The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Richard Wright.
Context: From For Whom Does One Write?, Jean Paul Sartre.

Kokura, Mary-Kim Arnold and Mathew Derby.
Reach, Michael Joyce.
Context: From Hypertext Fiction, Michael Joyce.

Ferris Wheel, Deena Larsen.


Context, Dorothy Allison.
From a Leslie Marmon Silko Interview, Kim Barnes.
Summary Observations on the Short Story, Harold Bloom.
Borges on Writing: A Conversation with Norman Thomas di Giovanni and Frank MacShane, Jorge Luis Borges.
From His Letters, Anton Chekhov.
On Certain Brisk, Bright Days, Kate Chopin.
Guadalupe the Sex Goddess, Sandra Cisneros.
Stephen Crane's Own Story, Stephen Crane.
What America Would Be Like without Blacks, Ralph Ellison.
The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Let Me Tell a Story Now…, Bessie Head.
Biography of a Story, Shirley Jackson.
From Hypertext Fiction, Michael Joyce.
From Somewhere Behind, Milan Kundera.
From “Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?,” Ursula LeGuin.
To a Young Reader, Primo Levi.
A Letter to Richard Murray, Katherine Mansfield.
Chekhov's “The Lady with the Little Dog,” Vladimir Nabokov.
Kafka's “The Metamorphosis,” Vladimir Nabokov.
The Making of a Writer, Joyce Carol Oates.
“My Mother Would Rather Skate Than Scrub Floors” : An Interview with Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates.
On Her Own Work, Flannery O'Connor.
The Legacy of Gogol's “Overcoat,” Frank O'Connor.
The Brief Prose Tale, Edgar Allan Poe.
The Writing of “Flowering Judas,” Katherine Anne Porter.
Remembering, Discovery, and Volition in the Literary Imagination, Tomás Rivera.
“Commonwealth Literature” Does Not Exist, Salman Rushdie.
From “For Whom Does One Write,” Jean Paul Sartre.
Through the Stories We Hear Who We Are, Leslie Marmon Silko.
From Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag.
An Interview with Eudora Welty, Alice Walker.
The Old Artist: Notes on Mr. Sweet, Alice Walker.
Act Natural, David Foster Wallace.
“Is Phoenix Jackson's Grandson Really Dead?,” Eudora Welty.
From a Work of My Own, Jeanette Winterson.
From Craftsmanship, Virginia Woolf.


The Formalist, New Critical Approach. The Biographical Approach. The Historical and New Historicist Approaches. The Psychological Approach. The Mythological Approach. The Sociological/Marxist Approach. The Feminist Approach and Gender Studies. The Ecocritical Approach. The Reader-Response Approach. The Structuralist and Post-Structuralist Approaches.


Think about Your Purpose. Think about Your Reader. Think about Your Critical Approach. Develop a Thesis. Return to the Story. Review Biographical, Historical, and Critical Sources. Decide on Organization. Write a Draft. Revise and Edit. Prepare the Final Draft. Sample Student Essays.
Biographical Notes.
Chronological List of Writers and Titles.
Index of Authors and Titles.

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Throughout the process of preparing this new edition, I have had before me, always within easy reach, all the previous editions of Charles Bohner's Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. While the goal for this edition has been to expand the book's usefulness for the contemporary college and university classroom, I knew that Charles Bohner (1927-1995) gave to this anthology an original purpose that is still strong and vital. Styles in fiction may change; styles in pedagogy may change. However, what makes a story powerful or what makes a classroom meaningful remains essential, even as vogues and movements come and go. Whether we are talking about fiction or classrooms, a moving idea and an original presentation are the sources for enjoyment and learning.

I have been using this text in my courses since the late 1980s, and it has always met my needs as an instructor. I've yet to meet a group of students who didn't thrill to "A&P," "The Lottery," "Young Goodman Brown," "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Story of an Hour," "Araby," "Hills Like White Elephants," "The Chrysanthemums," "The Cask of Amontillado," "A Worn Path," "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," just to name a dozen of the short stories that comprise a kind of pedagogical canon. So this new edition remains much the same in that it includes richly powerful short stories from nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the United States, Canada, England, Europe, Russia, Africa, Japan, and Central and South America-89 writers from the previous edition. In fact, 64 of the 80 writers that Charles Bohner chose for the first edition are still included in this, the fifth edition. I believe thatany instructor will find a large number of his or her longtime favorites.

But a good deal has happened in fiction and in teaching since the 1980s. And in this revision, I have tried to include some of the changes that struck me as positive. One of those, which previous editions reflected, is the inclusion of women and writers of color. I have attempted to continue that movement with the inclusion of Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Leslie Dick, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Mary Gaitskill, Susan Glaspell, Gish Jen, Mary Shelley, Leslie Marmon Siko, Susan Sontag, Jeanette Winterson, Sherman Alexie, Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Ernest J. Games, Dagoberto Gilb, Hanif Kureishi, Tomas Rivera, and Salman Rushdie. This new edition also adds writers who are openly gay and lesbian or who write about gay and lesbian issues: Castillo, Winterson, David Leavitt, and Reynolds Price, plus a new "Writers on Writing" selection by Dorothy Allison.

In another area, I felt the anthology was about to fall out of step concerning the age of its writers. It was beginning to look like "contemporary" short fiction was by writers born between 1920 and 1945. In the first edition, Perri Klass, born in 1958, was the youngest writer. In the fourth edition, Perri Klass was still the youngest writer. In this new edition, instead of there being four writers born from 1950 forward (as in the fourth edition), there are now well over a dozen, with several born in the 1960s. I believe their inclusion will be welcomed as their work expands not only the subject matter of short fiction, but also the technique and tonal range. Many instructors, like me, will remember when Raymond Carver and Bobbie Anne Mason were the newest thing in town. No more, it seems time to make room for Alexie, Gaitskill, Wallace, and Winterson.

Finally, I have tried to effect a minor shift in the overall feel of the anthology. In looking at previous editions of this book and at other anthologies, I began to sense, how else can I phrase it, a lessening of intellectual rigor and emotional complexity. For this reason, I have included such writers as Cortazar, Dick, Kundera, Rushdie, de Sade, Sartre, Sontag, Wallace, and Winterson. I wish I could have included more. Also included are eight writers featured as "Writers in Depth." Each of these eight writers is represented with three short stories and at least one "Context: Writers on Writing" selection. This feature allows the teacher to focus on the work of one writer, or taken together present a tour of the short story from nineteenth-century Poe, Chekhov, and Chopin to early modernism in Kafka to late twentieth-century American literature in Ellison, Rivera, Walker, and Silko.

Last, many new features have been added to the text. Two sections, those covering the elements of fiction and writing about fiction, have been rewritten and revised. The section concerning the elements of fiction now includes passages of annotated short stories, illustrating how such matters as characterization or setting occur in fiction. The explanation of writing about fiction now includes material concerning researching writers and fiction. Also included are discussions and examples of various purposes in writing about fiction, including sample essays. In addition, two new sections have been added to the anthology. The first concerns the process of reading short fiction, understanding what readers bring to a story, placing a short story in context with other fictional works, and reacting to works of fiction. The second presents the established schools of literary criticism, from New Criticism to Ecocriticism to Post-Structuralism.

In short, in revising this classic text, I have attempted to make it even more useful for the contemporary reader and classroom. Its features include:

  • thirty-two new writers, including 14 women and 24 contemporary writers, including eight born after 1960.
  • twenty-two new selections in "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • eight Writers in Depth, highlighting Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, Kate Chopin, Ralph Ellison, Tomas Rivera, Alice Walker, and Leslie Marmon S91ko. Each of these writers are featured with three stories and at least one selection in "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • three links to examples of hypertext fiction can be accessed by web address included in table of contents or through the anthology's web site.
  • two new sections: "Reading Fiction" and "Approaching Fiction Critically." Responses, suggested writing topics, follows Questions.
  • Redesigned Table of Contents, linking stories with selections from "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • Revised "Introduction to Short Fiction," featuring annotated selections, highlighting plot, character, conflict, setting, point of view, language, and tone.
  • Revised "Writing About Fiction," including information on research, and sample essays for summaries, analysis, evaluation, and researched essay.
  • Updated author biographies.
  • Anthology website for the text, providing many links to information about short fiction, the writers, and the short stories; the web site address is
  • Updated Instructor's Manual, available from Prentice Hall by request.

As we all know, behind any effort such as this one are many people who need to be thanked. Wives and families are always acknowledged last, but I want to thank Colleen, Jacob, and Will first. There is no way that working on a book such as this, after a full day of teaching, does not cut into time that rightfully belongs to the family. You all have been very understanding and supportive.

I also want to thank several of my colleagues at Austin Community College, some of whom I have worked with for over twenty years: Hazel Ward, Joe Lostracco, Lennis Polnac, Bill Durham, Joe Hoppe, Judy Sanders, Paula Robertson Rose, Prudence Arceneaux, and Chris Webb. Many of their suggestions have improved this book directly and powerfully.

I also want to thank Savannah Mayfield and Rich Perrin, former students, for their suggestions and advice. To Sue Burns at Book Woman, thanks for directing me to Jeanette Winterson. To Erich Schliebe, my nephew, now a graduate student in English, thank you for your computer searches—for every writer in this book, I might add. Great work!

I would like to thank the administration of Austin Community College, who granted me a leave of absence and a sabbatical to complete this text and to teach and complete some course work at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M University I would like to thank Jimmie Killingsworth, Paul Christensen, and Tom Murphy and the other folks at the Brazos River Review.

I also want to thank the NEH and Mark Busby at Southwest Texas State University. I was privileged to spend the month of June 2000 in San Marcos, Texas, studying the history, geography, anthropology, music, art, and literature of the Southwest in a Summer Faculty Institute titled Traversing Borders. Mark Busby put together a wonderfully educational seminar. I would like to thank all my fellow participants in this institute, but would especially like to thank Jesse Aleman (University of New Mexico), Patrick Duffy (Austin College), Amy Gilmour (St. Mary's University), David Lee (Southern Utah University), Patricia Price (Florida International University), Don Scheese (Gustavus Adlophus College), John Wegner (Angelo State University), and Kathleen Wright (Orange County Community College). In our conversations, they probably had no idea how much they were contributing. I must, however, like to single out Stephen Swords of Eastern Illinois University. Nothing beats talking literature with someone who has fire in his belly and light in his eyes.

I have also been privileged to work with the very talented editors at Prentice Hall. Many thanks to Carrie Brandon for her trust, support, and vision for this book.

Thanks also to Craig Campanella and to Leah Jewell for their support and expertise on this project and on Commonsense: A Handbook and Guide for Writers.

Finally, a thank you to all my students. Everyone—professional educators, parents, newspaper pundits—has a pet theory about, a generational nickname for, and an all-too-wise criticism of you. But this is what I have seen and continue to see: Many young adults, and some older ones, too, struggling in and with a culture that expects you to go to college, make the grades, and simultaneously to meet all your expenses for rents, automobiles, insurance, books, tuition, medical care, and food. On top of that, we've raised you in a culture that entertains you with violence, entices you with erotic images, freely offers you illegal drugs and alcohol, and defines your success by the size of your paycheck. Then we harshly judge you if you happen to acquire a handgun, STD, drug and alcohol addiction, or a suspicion of the value of the liberal arts. Nor, in this land of liberty and individualism, do you have to live very long to find yourself demonized because you are somehow different. I want you to know that I admire your hard work, your dedication to the long process of higher education, and your ability to sift through the stories our culture gives you and to create your own life, your own life story, one that nurtures and sustains you. I wish you happy and profitable reading and writing.

Lyman Grant
Austin and College Station

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