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Questions tagged [short-stories]

For questions about stories with a fully developed plot, themes, and characters, but significantly shorter and less detailed than a novel.

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27 views

Story ID: U.S. soldier mistaken for football star in Japan

An acquaintance is trying to find a short story she read some years ago (I am sorry she could not identify how far). She thinks she read it in Reader's Digest, or in a collection of stories from it. ...
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77 views

meaning of 'dash about'

"That is a very dreadful story," said the Padre. "Very," said I, "and there are some rather odd points about it. Did commercial travellers dash about in motorcars when Popper was a youngster? And ...
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126 views

Looking for an old sci-fi tale about time-traveling

I can not remember the author, but this seems was Ray Bradbury. However, I've already read couple of his short stories, which would be matched by titles, and found nothing. It's probably not Ray ...
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16 views

How to understand these expressions in Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song?

The following excerpts are taken from Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song. There are some expressions that I can't find in any dictionary, and I really want to know what do they mean. Question 1: ...
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47 views

What is the meaning of “decorator” and “got up in”?

The following text is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: I sighed and left the den. The way it worked, Ellie had the use of the sitting room down back of the ground floor; no teenager ...
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33 views

How to understand “ eight million quids’ worth of dental work”

The following sentence is taken from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He was seventeen, six two, with blonde, floppy hair, and about eight million quids’ worth of dental work." How to understand the ...
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1answer
51 views

How to understand the title “Wifey Redux”

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which ...
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1answer
32 views

Why did he die in “Philomel Cottage”?

"Philomel Cottage" is a short story by Agatha Christie which was recently identified as the answer to a story-ID question on our site. After seeing it there, I read the story in full - it's only 10 ...
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1answer
41 views

What is the Distracted Preacher never anxious to do in this long sentence?

In Hardy's The Distracted Preacher, the first page has this really long sentence: But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they were ...
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17 views

What is the meaning behind Poe's “The Assignation”?

Has anyone read and analyzed Poe's "The Assignation"? I read it and have a preliminary understanding of it but failed to perceive greater nuances by far.
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1answer
43 views

How to understand the meaning of “ Columbine types” and “sniper material”?

The following is an excerpt from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He wasn’t her usual type, so immediately I was worried. The usual type – so far as it had been established – was black-clad, pale-...
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1answer
72 views

Short story where a king uses a tiger to punish the accused

This story was a part of a collection that I read quite some time ago. Here are the details: Language: English Year: Unknown; but I read it sometime in the early 2000s (likely 2002-03). What I ...
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1answer
59 views

Short story identification: Color of the Taj Mahal, mother says “Death rides a fast horse behind me”

In grade school in the 1970s, I read a short story I would like to find again. I think it was assigned reading, a school book (reader) that one of the schools used. It may also have been in an old ...
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1answer
67 views

How to understand “made a picture” and “dates can work out”?

The following sentence is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: And we made a picture – I was a gorgeous kid myself. A Matt Dillon-type, people used to say, which dates me. But your dates ...
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Short story where an older lady realizes that her new beau has been murdering his wives, but decides to go with it

I was reading the TV Tropes entry for The Bluebeard and it made me recall a short story (probably less than 20 pages) I read probably in the early 2000s, I think part of a mystery anthology. The ...
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1answer
64 views

Is it true that short stories “must” end without definite conclusions?

In my native subcontinental literature, there is a notion that one of the identifying features of short stories is, it must end without a conclusion. The reader is left guessing. That is, the reader ...
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21 views

Story/children's story about a middle/high school boy asking out two girls to prom

Not exactly a book, but a short story, young-adult maybe. From what I can remember, the story was relatively short, something around 20-30 pages, maybe ? I remember reading the story about 8 years ago ...
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36 views

Has “The Duel” by Joseph Conrad been published in any recent story collections?

I'm a fan of the Ridley Scott film The Duellists (1977) which is based on the story "The Duel" by Joseph Conrad. I would like to read the original story, but whenever I search for paperback ...
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28 views

Typographical inconsistency in James Joyce's “Araby”

Sorry if this a fussy question, but in teaching "Araby" I have found that there is an inconsistency between editions that must be a typo, but I can't figure out which version is correct. Just after ...
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52 views

Is there a canonical order to HP Lovecraft's work?

I've been a big fan of Lovecraft's works of literature and used them as inspiration for a lot of my own writing, but I've been unable to find a proper consensus on how his stories all fit together or ...
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1answer
60 views

Trying to find: Short story: Boy meets a man who is about to hang himself

For decades this short story has been stuck in my head. We read it in highschool English class once. As I remember it, it was about a boy leaving his home to encounter a man who was about to hang ...
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1answer
104 views

Explain the bidding in ‘The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker’

The short story ‘The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker’ by Dorothy L. Sayers was collected in Lord Peter Views the Body (Gollancz, 1928). In this extract the characters are playing a game of ...
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56 views

Why does the guard call the inmates “girls” in “The Propagator”?

In Simone Kern's short story "The Propagator", there's a line where a prison guard for those convicted of "reproductive crimes" refers to the inmates as "girls": The guard leaned towards me, and ...
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61 views

Is there any significance to the name “friends of Lilith” in Simone Kern's “The Propagator”?

Simone Kern's "The Propagator" is set in a future where abortion is illegal, and anyone who tries it is persecuted for "reproductive crimes". During the story, we learn about the "friends of Lilith", ...
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1answer
58 views

In “Memories of Childhood”, why are two seemingly unrelated excerpts being presented together?

The unit "Memories of Childhood" (a short five minute read) is on my curriculum; I think it consists of excerpts from two different books, one by Zitkala-Sa and one by Bama, presented together. But ...
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36 views

What do “current words” mean in 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton?

The below paragraph is from "Roman Fever'. "Alida Slade's awfully brilliant; but not as brilliant as she thinks," would have summed it up; though she would have added, for the enlightenment of ...
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1answer
121 views

In 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton, why would Grace be raided?

I am reading Edith Wharton’s 'Roman Fever'. I have a couple of question which are beyond my understanding, being not a native English speaker. "I'd rather live opposite a speakeasy for a change; at ...
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1answer
92 views

In the short story “Should Wizard hit Mommy” by John Updike,what is the author conveying through his narrated story and contradicting actions

The short story "Should Wizard hit Mommy" by John Updike (a short five-to-ten-minute read) is on my curriculum; it involves a father who tells a nap-time story to his daughter. It appears to be a ...
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1answer
46 views

Who's this African soldier? What does Conrad mean?

Joseph Conrad's short story "The Idiots": Millot was stumbling, laughing, swearing meaninglessly out of pure satisfaction, pleased with himself for having run down that fly-by-night. “As if there ...
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1answer
64 views

How can Stella Salzman be Christian while her father Pinny Salzman is Jewish?

I was preparing for my exam , in exam solution book I found written like "There is cross cultural relation between Stella and Leo.Because Leo was Jewish and Stella was Christain." I wander is this a ...
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1answer
70 views

What is “a Man in the Top” in Crawford's 'The Screaming Skull'?

From 'The Screaming Skull' by F. Marion Crawford: I ought not to be nervous. I've sailed in a haunted ship. There was a Man in the Top, and two-thirds of the crew died of the West Coast fever ...
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57 views

Short story about a girl pursued by a fat man in the hills

The viewpoint is from a small girl who is living near to a gas station maybe in the midwest. It's a hot summer and she hears on the radio that there is a another dead child found. She goes to the gas ...
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1answer
2k views

US Civil War story: man hanged from a bridge

I read a story a long time ago about a Civil War soldier who was being hanged from a bridge but the rope broke and he escaped. It goes through all the things he went through after escaping but then it ...
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3answers
67 views

What is the language spoken in Babylon?

In the short story "The Lottery in Babylon", Jorge Luis Borges describes an imaginary society where a Lottery decides the fate of the people, with omnipotence and foresight. At the beginning of the ...
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55 views

“The Apple Tree” ending and the meaning behind it

I've recently been tasked with analysing "The Apple Tree" by John Galsworthy. I've had no major issues with understanding the text, but i really can't grasp the ending. Up on the top of the hill, ...
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131 views

Fairy tale about disguised Prince searching for Princess [closed]

I’m searching for a fairy tale I’m almost sure I once read as a child about a Prince who was searching for his Princess. Because all the established Princesses he knew from surrounding kingdoms were ...
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40 views

Short story by Flannery O'Connor: conversation used in psychology periodical

I'd like the title of the short story by Flannery O'Connor in which a man thinks he is engaging in friendly conversation only to find that his responses are used as data in an article published in a ...
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29 views

Why the title “Agunot” for S. Y. Agnon's short story?

S. Y. Agnon's first influential story is "Agunot" - in fact, his chosen name "Agnon" comes from the same word. The word "Agunot" is the plural form of the word "Agunah", which is the term for a woman ...
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1answer
103 views

How to interpret “body that leaned stiffly” in H. P. Lovecraft's “Azathoth”?

I've just finished reading Lovecraft's fragment "Azathoth" (in Italian translation) and I am astonished by the beauty of the story. Nevertheless I am a little bit confused about the end of it. In my ...
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111 views

Meaning of “rubber” as a verb in O. Henry

"I'm one of the Sole Sanhedrims and Ostensible Hooplas of the Inner Pulpit," says I. "The lame talk and the blind rubber whenever I make a pass at 'em. I am a medium, a coloratura hypnotist and a ...
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1answer
75 views

Looking for a short story about a person whose conversations run from A to Z

I'm looking for a short story of a person whose conversations all ran alphabetically. I think it's a rather known short story (I read it initially in German, but don't know, in which language it was ...
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1answer
82 views

In Penelope Fitzgerald’s short story The Prescription, significance of “Knowledge is good, but what is the use of knowledge without honesty?”

In Penelope Fitzgerald’s short story The Prescription (1982), Dr. Mehmet Bey almost kills his 14-year-old apprentice, Alecco, by forcing him to drink a poisoned prescription after discovering the boy ...
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1answer
280 views

How is Kimberly Clark a ghost in Janssen's “A Recurring Dream”?

In the short story "A Recurring Dream" (from Unusual Stories from Many Lands by Arlo T. Janssen), a character called Kimberly Clark is accused of being a ghost by an old man. The man opens the door ...
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31 views

What does “wisdom that is so often loudly preached” mean in the Parable of the King and the Maiden?

In the first paragraph of "The Parable of the King and the Maiden": Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden and whose heart was unaffected by the wisdom that is so often loudly preached. ...
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50 views

How does the author convey the tone of the panic that can be aroused by contemplating the “prenatal abyss”?

In the text of Vladimir Nabokov: The Beginning of Consciousness How does the author convey the tone of the panic that can be aroused by contemplating the "prenatal abyss"? The cradle rocks above ...
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159 views

Short story, maybe SF: non-neurotypical girl gets pregnant and older mentor (not the father) marries her

In this story there's a girl who is mentally fragile in some way -- I don't remember exactly how, and I don't think it's spelled out explicitly, but there's something about her that isn't entirely ...
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1answer
126 views

Why does Sammy feel sorry in Updike's “A&P”?

In John Updike's short story A&P, the narrator Sammy has been ogling a group of customers at the A&P store: In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-...
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1answer
129 views

What is the meaning of this sentence from “Polaris” by Lovecraft?

Below is a sentence from Lovecraft's "Polaris": I said to myself, "This is no dream, for by what means can I prove the greater reality of that other life in the house of stone and brick south of ...
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1answer
88 views

Short sci-fi story called “Blood and Lust”

Many years ago I read a short story that I think was titled "Blood and Lust". It featured two entities named Blood and Lust who would travel through history making very small adjustments to see how ...
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1answer
166 views

Anthology: one story about an astronaut falling on flowers, another about a wife trying to kill her husband

I am trying to remember the name of a book with short stories inside. I remember 2 stories from it: There was an astronaut on a foreign planet with flowers all around called floofs or phoofs, I ...