The Story and Its Writer, Compact: An Introduction to Short Fiction


Suitable for a variety of courses, the compact edition of Ann Charters’ bestselling The Story and Its Writer (now in print or e-book formats) offers about half the stories and commentaries of the full edition, with all of its highly- praised editorial features. No one has a better sense than Ann Charters of which stories work most effectively in the classroom and instructors look forward to every new edition of her anthology to see what her constant search for new fiction and neglected classics will turn up. ...

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Suitable for a variety of courses, the compact edition of Ann Charters’ bestselling The Story and Its Writer (now in print or e-book formats) offers about half the stories and commentaries of the full edition, with all of its highly- praised editorial features. No one has a better sense than Ann Charters of which stories work most effectively in the classroom and instructors look forward to every new edition of her anthology to see what her constant search for new fiction and neglected classics will turn up. Further, Charters knows that writers, not editors, have the most interesting and useful things to say about the making and the meaning of fiction, so to complement the stories, she offers her signature innovation: an array of the writers’ own commentaries on the craft and traditions of storytelling. For in-depth, illustrated studies of particular writers or genres, her Casebooks provide unparalleled opportunities for discussion and writing. The new ninth edition features many very recent stories and commentaries by up-and-coming writers, a new Casebook on the important genre of Magical Realism, and expanded coverage of close reading.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781457665554
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 8/1/2014
  • Edition description: Ninth Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 1152
  • Sales rank: 479,393
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Charters

Ann Charters received her B.A. at Berkeley and her Ph.D. at Columbia. She first met Kerouac at a poetry reading in Berkeley in 1956, and compiled a comprehensive bibliography of his work in 1967. A professor of English at the University of Connecticut, she is also the editor of Selected Letters of Jack Kerouac and the Portable Kerouac Reader, and the author of Beats and Company: Portrait of a Literary Generation.


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

* indicates new selection



Introduction: The Story and Its Writer

Part One: Stories

Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

*Isabelle 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 , Janus

Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

*Jorge Luis Borges, The South

Ray Bradbury, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains

*Alejo Carpentier, Journey to The Seed

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

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

*Julio Cortázar, Axolotl

Stephen Crane, The Open Boat

*Lydia Davis, Blind Date

Junot Díaz, How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie

Ralph Ellison, Battle Royal

*Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Louise Erdrich, The Red Convertible

William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily

William Faulkner, That Evening Sun

*F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winter Dreams

*Carlos Fuentes, Pain

*Mary Gaitskill, The Other Place

Gabriel García Márquez, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

*William Gass, A Fugue

*Dagoberto Gilb, Love in L.A.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown

Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants

Zora Neale Hurston, The Gilded Six-Bits

Shirley Jackson, The Lottery

Sarah Orne Jewett, A White Heron

*Denis Johnson, Work

James Joyce, Araby

James Joyce, The Dead

Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Jamaica Kincaid, Girl

*Nora Krug, Kamikaze [graphic story]

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

D.H. Lawrence, The Rocking Horse Winner

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

*Clarice Lispector, The Smallest Woman in the World

Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill

Bobbie Ann Mason, Shiloh

Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace

Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener

*Alice Munro, Age of Faith

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

*Daniel Orozco, Orientation

*Julie Otsuka, The Children

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, Maria Concepción

Marjane Satrapi, From Persepolis: The Veil [graphic story]

*Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, A Brief Encounter with The Enemy

Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman

Art Spiegelman, Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History [graphic story]

Amy Tan, Two Kinds

John Updike, A&P

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Harrison Bergeron

Alice Walker, Everyday Use

*David Foster Wallace, Everything Is Green

*Tobias Wolff, Bullet in the Brain

Richard Wright, The Man Who Was Almost a Man

Part Two: Commentaries

Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness"

Sherwood Anderson, Form, Not Plot, in the Short Story

Margaret Atwood, Reading Blind

James Baldwin, Autobiographical Notes

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

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

*Zora Neale Hurston, What White Publishers Won’t Print

Shirley Jackson, The Morning of June 28, 1948 and "The Lottery"

Jamaica Kincaid, On "Girl"

Simon Lewis, Lahiri’s "Interpreter of Maladies"

Guy de Maupassant, The Writer’s Goal

Herman Melville, Blackness in Hawthorne’s "Young Goodman Brown"

Alice Munro, How I Write Short Stories

Joyce Carol Oates, Stories That Define Me: The Making of a Writer

Joyce Carol Oates, Smooth Talk: Short Story into Film

Tim O’Brien, Alpha Company

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

*Matt Steinglass, Reading Tim O’Brien In Hanoi

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

Part Three: Casebooks

CASEBOOK ONE: Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver, On Writing

Raymond Carver, Creative Writing 101

Raymond Carver, The Bath

Tom Jenks, The Origins of "Cathedral"

Arthur M. Saltzman, A Reading of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"

A.O. Scott, Looking for Raymond Carver

CASEBOOK TWO: Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor, From Letters, 1954-55

Flannery O’Connor, Writing Short Stories

Flannery O’Connor, A Reasonable Use of the Unreasonable

Joyce Carol Oates, The Parables of Flannery O’Connor

Wayne C. Booth, A Rhetorical Reading of O’Connor’s "Everything That Rises Must Converge"

Dorothy Tuck McFarland, On "Good Country People"

*CASEBOOK THREE: Magical Realism

Jorge Luis Borges, Borges and I

*Alejo Carpentier, On the Marvelous Real in America

*Alejo Carpentier, The Baroque and the Marvelous Real

*Luis Leal, Magical Realism in Spanish American Literature

*William Gass, The First Seven Pages of the Boom

*Ursula K. Le Guin, The Kind of Fiction Most Characteristic of Our Times

*Mario Vargas Llosa, The Prose Style of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez

Part Four: Appendices

  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
*Thematic Index

Index of Authors and Titles

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