Story and Its Writer Compact: An Introduction to Short Fiction / Edition 6

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Ann Charters has an acute sense of which stories work most effectively in the classroom, and she knows that writers, not editors, have the most interesting and useful things to say about the making and the meaning of fiction. Her anthology, The Story and Its Writer, is the most comprehensive, diverse — and the best-selling — introduction to fiction available, notable for its student appeal as well as its quality and range. To complement the stories, Charters includes her lasting innovation: an array of the
writers' own commentaries on the craft and traditions of fiction. For in-depth, illustrated studies of particular writers, her “Casebooks” provide unparalleled opportunities for discussion and writing.
For a shorter, more affordable option, the compact edition offers all the editorial features of the full edition with about half the stories and commentaries.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312397319
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Edition description: Sixth Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 1060
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Charters

ANN CHARTERS (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut and has taught courses in the short story for over thirty years. A preeminent authority on the Beat writers, Charters has written a critically acclaimed biography of Jack Kerouac; compiled Beats & Company, a collection of her own photographs of Beat writers; and edited the best-selling Portable Beat Reader. Her published books include The Kerouac Reader, Selected Letters of Jack Kerouac, 1957-1969, Beat Down to Your Soul, and The Portable Sixties Reader. Her other textbooks with Bedford/St. Martin's include The American Short Story and Its Writer, and Literature and Its Writers, co-edited with Samuel Charters.


It's nearly impossible to come across a significant study of Jack Kerouac without encountering the name Ann Charters. A foremost Beat scholar, she wrote the first biography of the On the Road author and has studied his milieu for over 20 years. Charters also has a personal connection to back up her scholarly interest in the Beats: When she was a junior at University of California, Berkeley, her roommate set her up on a date with Peter Orlovsky. Charters was actually in love with her professor, Sam Charters, whom she later married; as for Orlovsky, he was Allen Ginsberg's boyfriend. Charters said in a magazine interview, "My roommate...said to me, 'I'll fix you up with a wonderful boy who's your own age.' This was Peter Orlovsky, before he was living with Allen, and who considered 'Howl' to be the greatest poem since Whitman's Leaves of Grass."

Though the romance didn't pan out, Charters' love of the Beats endured, and she became the genre's anthologist of note. After completing biographies of Kerouac and the futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, Charters assembled the now-classic The Story and Its Writer, a collection of exemplary short stories and commentary by and about authors such as Raymond Carver and Anton Chekhov. In addition to her taste and eye for good literature, one of Charters' strengths is her ability to incorporate the author's voice. She got Kerouac's cooperation on her biography of him and included the authors' own analyses of their work in The Story and Its Writer.

This acumen probably reached its apotheosis when Charters edited a collection of Kerouac's letters. By that time, a second Kerouac biography, Memory Babe by Gerald Nicosia, had been released, and as Charters told the Alsop Review, "my book was, I thought, in comparison, woefully inadequate." She continued, "That's why I took on the editing, because I saw with the letters that it could be a way of giving a biography through my selection, which emphasizes Jack's life as a writer.... If I were to write a biography -- and I will not rewrite my first biography -- well, I've done that with this two-volume set."

Though she has focused on Kerouac in her work, Charters has also done a lot to improve the understanding of Beat literature in general, not only by editing well-known anthologies such as The Portable Beat Reader but also by writing introductions and essays in editions of major works. For a British anthology called The Penguin Book of the Beats (which follows the structure of The Portable Beat Reader), she explained her approach in a publisher's interview: "I decided I wouldn't just alphabetically arrange my favorite Beat writers or put them in big sections, like Poetry, Fiction, Essays. I would organize it historically, so that someone who didn't know much about Beat writing could come in and use the book as an introduction to the whole field and have some guidelines."

Charters is appealing as an editor and anthologist because she embraces, rather than trying to distance herself from, her personal connection to the era she covers. With The Portable Sixties Reader, her most expansive collection yet, she continues to illuminate a crucial literary era.

Good To Know

Charters has taught at Brown University, Columbia University, and the University of Connecticut, where she has been a professor of English since 1974.

Charters on Kerouac's detractors: "Most people are, at heart, good people, but fairly conservative. They really like to think that there's a tried-and-true way of writing, and you sit and write 13 revisions. And when they hear that he's bragging that he's written it in one draft they kind of get their hackles up." (online zine interview)

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    1. Hometown:
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 10, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bridgeport, Connecticut
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1957; M.A., Columbia University, 1959; Ph.D., 1965

Table of Contents

Chinua Achebe
, Civil Peace
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight
  in Heaven
Isabel Allende, An Act of Vengeance
Sherwood Anderson, Hands
Margaret Atwood, Happy Endings
James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues
Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson
Russell Banks, Black Man and White Woman in
  Dark Green Rowboat
*Ann Beattie, Snow
*Alison Bechdel, From Fun Home: Old Father,
  Old Artificer [graphic story]
*Aimee Bender, The Rememberer 
Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins
*Ray Bradbury, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains
Raymond Carver, Cathedral
*Raymond Carver, A Small, Good Thing
Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk
   About Love
Willa Cather, Paul’s Case
*Lan Samantha Chang, Water Names
John Cheever, The Swimmer
Anton Chekhov, The Darling 
Kate Chopin, Désirée’s Baby
Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour
*Sandra Cisneros, Barbie-Q
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Stephen Crane, The Open Boat
Junot Díaz, How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl,
  Whitegirl, or Halfie
Ralph Ellison, Battle Royal
Louise Erdrich, The Red Convertible
William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily
William Faulkner, That Evening Sun
Gabriel García Márquez, A Very Old Man with
  Enormous Wings
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
*Nadine Gordimer, Homage
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown
Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants
*Amy Hempel, Church Cancels Cow
*A. M. Homes, Things You Should Know
Zora Neale Hurston, Sweat
Shirley Jackson, The Lottery
Gish Jen, Who’s Irish?
Sarah Orne Jewett, A White Heron
*Edward P. Jones, Bad Neighbors 
James Joyce, Araby
James Joyce, The Dead 
Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
Jamaica Kincaid, Girl
*Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
D. H. Lawrence, The Rocking-Horse Winner
*Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill
Bobbie Ann Mason, Shiloh
Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace
Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener
*Daniyal Mueenuddin, Nawabdin Electrician
Bharati Mukherjee, The Management of Grief 
*Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades
Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge
Flannery O'Connor, Good Country People 
Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Tillie Olsen, I Stand Here Ironing
*Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl
*ZZ Packer, Brownies
Grace Paley, A Conversation with My Father
Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado 
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
*Katherine Anne Porter, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall
*Annie Proulx, Job History
*Joe Sacco, From Palestine: Refugeeland [graphic story]
*Marjane Satrapi, From Persepolis: The Veil [graphic story]
Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman
*Helen Simpson, Homework
*Art Spiegelman, Prisoner on the Hell Planet:
  A Case History [graphic story]
Amy Tan, Two Kinds
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych                      
John Updike, A & P
*Helena Maria Viramontes, The Moths
*Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Harrison Bergeron
Alice Walker, Everyday Use
*David Foster Wallace, Good People
Eudora Welty, A Worn Path
Tobias Wolff, Say Yes
Richard Wright, The Man Who Was Almost a Man
Chinua Achebe
, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s
  “Heart of Darkness”
Sherman Alexie, Superman and Me
Sherwood Anderson, Form, Not Plot, in the Short Story
Margaret Atwood, Reading Blind
James Baldwin, Autobiographical Notes
*Russell Banks, Writing “Poes”
*Jorge Luis Borges, Borges and I
Ann Charters, Translating Kafka
John Cheever, Why I Write Short Stories
Anton Chekhov, Technique in Writing the Short Story
Kate Chopin, How I Stumbled upon Maupassant
Stephen Crane, The Sinking of the Commodore
R. Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz, A Hunger Artist [graphic story]
Ralph Ellison, The Influence of Folklore on “Battle Royal”
William Faulkner, The Meaning of “A Rose for Emily”
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, A Feminist Reading of
  Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Undergoing the Cure for Nervous Prostration
Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me
Shirley Jackson, The Morning of June 28, 1948, and “The Lottery”
Jamaica Kincaid, On “Girl”
*Anne Lamott, Finding Your Voice
Bobbie Ann Mason, On Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”
Guy de Maupassant, The Writer’s Goal
Herman Melville, Blackness in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”
Alice Munro, How I Write Short Stories
Tim O’Brien, Alpha Company
Joyce Carol Oates, From “Stories that Define Me:
  The Making of a Writer”
Joyce Carol Oates, Smooth Talk: Short Story into Film
Grace Paley, A Conversation with Ann Charters
Edgar Allan Poe, The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale
Leslie Marmon Silko, Language and Literature from a Pueblo
  Indian Perspective
Amy Tan, In the Canon, For All the Wrong Reasons
Leo Tolstoy, Chekhov’s Intent in “The Darling”
Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston: A Cautionary Tale and a
  Partisan View
*David Foster Wallace, Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness
  from Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed
Eudora Welty, Is Phoenix Jackson’s Grandson Really Dead?
Richard Wright, Reading Fiction
Raymond Carver, On Writing
Raymond Carver, Creative Writing 101
*Raymond Carver, The Bath
Tom Jenks, The Origin of “Cathedral”
Arthur M. Saltzman, A Reading of “What We Talk About
  When We Talk About Love”
A.O. Scott, Looking for Raymond Carver
*Jhumpa Lahiri, My Two Lives
*Sean Flynn, Jhumpa Lahiri
*Simon Lewis, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies
Flannery O’Connor, From Letters 1954-1955
Flannery O’Connor, Writing Short Stories
Flannery O’Connor, A Reasonable Use of the Unreasonable
Wayne C. Booth, A Rhetorical Reading of O’Connor’s
  “Everything That Rises Must Converge”
Dorothy Tuck McFarland, On “Good Country People”
*Alison Bechdel, What Little Old Ladies Feel
*Charles Hatfield, From Alternative Comics: Toward the Habit of Questioning
*Michael Kupperman, Are Comics Serious Literature? [graphic story]
Scott McCloud, From Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art [graphic story]
*Sydney Landon Plum, Reading “The Veil” by Marjane Satrapi
*Joe Sacco, Some Reflections on Palestine
*Edward Said, Homage to Joe Sacco
1. Reading Short Stories [includes Grace Paley, “Samuel”]
2. The Elements of Fiction
3. A Brief History of the Short Story
4. Writing About Short Stories
5. Literary Theory and Critical Perspectives
6. Glossary of Literary Terms
7. Chronological Listing of Authors and Stories

* new to this edition

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