Essay PreviewMore ↓
"And then I woke up."Thus goes the kind of "trick ending" that every first year writing student is told to avoid, a mark of cheap theatrics and poor craftsmanship.Historically, this kind of ending is often associated with Guy de Maupassant, the prolific French writer of the 19th century, or his 20th century American heir apparent, O. Henry (William S. Porter).In this well researched and at moments insightful book, Richard Fusco argues that Maupassant's bad rap as first and foremost the inventor and disseminator of the "trick ending" is undeserved.What Fusco feels Maupassant does deserve is recognition as perhaps the single most important influence on American short story writers of the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly Ambrose Bierce, Kate Chopin, Henry James, and of course O. Henry.However, even as Fusco's readings of these writers are laudable in their thoroughness (with the exception of his treatment of O. Henry), his overall argument seems finally too dependent on an understanding of "trick ending" which does not make necessary distinctions, and is therefore superficial enough to accommodate nearly any writer one cares to name.
Not that Fusco doesn't differentiate between types of trick endings.In fact, he develops his own seven categories of stories--from the simplest (linear) to most complex (sinusoidal)--based on their varying "placement and number of discovery points for the reader."The first two chapters, where Fusco limits himself to a thorough and interesting analysis of narrative structure in Maupassant, are the best of the book.However, in shifting his terms from "trick endings" to "discovery points," Fusco deprives his argument of its specificity and thus its power.
To cite one example: Fusco argues that Maupassant and Bierce were similar in that they "favored fictive structures that depended on last-second, ironic reversals in the reader's perception."He then uses this theorized similarity to compare Maupassant's much-anthologized "The Necklace" to the that of Bierce's equally popular "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."In analyzing these (and other) stories by the two writers, Fusco uses Poe's "unity of effect" as a synonym for "discovery point" (which is in itself too reductionist a reading of what Poe meant).However, unity of effect for Maupassant in "The Necklace" is utterly dependent on information unavailable to the reader, i.e., that the necklace is paste, and thus the reader's "discovery" depends entirely on an absence, a trick of concealment, as in a "bad" murder mystery.In "Owl Creek," on the other hand, one need only read closely in the section where Peyton first falls from the bridge (and, in reality, dies) to obtain all the information necessary to correctly interpret the rest of the story as an hallucination.
How to Cite this Page
"Short Story Writers." 123HelpMe.com. 09 Dec 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- ... She had much in common with the Fitzgeralds; Robert Fitzgerald was a poet and both he and his wife were Catholic. O’Connor actually lived with them in Ridgefield, Connecticut until she was diagnosed with disseminated lupus – the same disease that killed her father. By this time, the disease was treatable but not curable. She decided to move back to Milledgeville to live with her mother on their five hundred and fifty acre dairy farm under strict medical supervision. Throughout this difficult time, O’Connor continued to write and inspire young people to do the same.... [tags: notorious American authors]
681 words (1.9 pages)
- ... Then he move to Clyde Ohio a town none for farming and other agricultural properties. Anderson loved horses, so he would walk to the Mains Street where the horses were tied down to the posts just to play with them. Mains Street, Anderson would be the first one in line watching the race. When he was old enough his started working taking care of horses. He also worked as a farmer planting cabbages and cutting corn. He having all this jobs started affecting him in school (Schevill 14, 15). This led him to quit his job with the horses and focus more in school.... [tags: American authors, short story writers]
563 words (1.6 pages)
- "Now this is the point. Your fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me"(42 Backpack Literature). Reading such words can create a wide imagination about what the character is truly like. The narrator in the story has an indirect personality where as you read you find out more and more about him.The narrator in Edger Allan Poe's "The Tell- Tale Heart" seems like he makes himself completely insane but as readers we are never told of any psychological problems, if any, that he may have.The characterization by Poe of the narrator crease a puzzle which makes the story interesting.... [tags: Romantic American writers, short story]
750 words (2.1 pages)
- Woodward, Pauline Groetz. "Erdrich, Louise 1954—." American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Supplement 4. Ed. A Walton Litz and Molly Weigel. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner 's Sons, 1996. 259-278. Scribner Writers on GVRL. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. The main point of this article is that it explains in detail of the main points concerning the different elements such as the context, setting, character, plot, and the theme on the story “Love Medicine.” The article goes into detail of the information and examples from other works the short stories it provides contributing to this story.... [tags: Short story, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louise Erdrich]
2200 words (6.3 pages)
- Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19th 1809. Poe had a tough life lots of hard work and dedication went into everything he had achieved in his lifetime. Poe who was referred to as the American master of the macabre, he was also one of the earliest American practitioners and considered to the inventor of detective fiction genre. First well know American writer to earn a living through published writing. (Two Hundred Years of Edgar Allan Poe.) The techniques Poe used have a great impact on writers today.... [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, Short story]
1305 words (3.7 pages)
- Short Stories What is a short story. A short story is a fictional piece of writing that can range from 1,000 to 20,000 words. Unlike a novel, he reader should be able to read a short story within a short amount of time. Because the length of a short story is shorter than a novel, it usually has one main character (minor characters can be added in limited amounts) and focuses on one plot, setting, and central theme. Why do we write short stories. The answer is simple, they’re practice. Almost all of the best writers started out writing short stories.... [tags: Short story, Fiction, Character, Essay]
1087 words (3.1 pages)
- ... Lionel Trilling, a professor and critic at Columbia, speaks for himself and many other critiquing-writers, such as Jack Frost and Archibald MacLeish, when he says, “His place in American literature is secure and pre-eminent. There is no one in the whole range of literature of the modern world who has a better claim than he to be acknowledged as a master, but it is in his short stories rather than in his novels that his genius most truly and surely showed itself”(Authors and Critics Appraise Works).... [tags: influential American writers]
1994 words (5.7 pages)
- Short stories are pieces of high creativity that develop their themes and plot in a short way. The writers of short stories are usually faced by the challenge of limited time and space. In the pursuit of achieving the explicit expression of the plot development and themes, the short story writers can opt to assume some details, ignore some details completely or better still, use styles of literature to express themselves (Ford, Para 1). Because short stories can elude the real life situations, time span, human beings traits, and entire life, they can show their audacity and daring in literature, but not necessary that of their writers.... [tags: Literary Analysis ]
1130 words (3.2 pages)
- Comparing/Contrasting “Story of an Hour” Kate Chopin vs. “The Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck In the short stories "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck the writers convey the importance of freedom by looking at women 's lives and their role in society. Both Chopin and Steinbeck use characters Louise and Elisa, to illustrate the different roles of gender and demonstrate their oppression after marriage. Although both short stories use evidence to support their freedom which is given for a limited amount of time to both women yet, differentiates later on by their reactions from it being taken away.... [tags: Gender role, Short story, John Steinbeck, Gender]
1159 words (3.3 pages)
- This essay will consider four of this type of story, by short story writers of the period; Dickens’ The Signal Man, The Monkeys Paw’ by W W Jacobs, H G Wells The Red Room and The Dream Woman by Wilkie Collins. LOOKING AT THE ATTUTUDES OF THE PERIOD, EXAMINE HOW A RANGE OF 19TH CENTURY WRITERS CREATE MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE IN THEIR SHORT SHORIES The rise in popularity of magazines in Victorian times and the era’s fascination in the unknown and supernatural led to immense interest in the short story genre.... [tags: English Literature]
2238 words (6.4 pages)
Fusco's reading of key O. Henry stories is similarly insufficient. For instance, though the ending of "Springtime a la Carte" does indeed depend on a missing piece of information (a lost letter), it is throughout a quite metafictional piece, filled with advice, obvious and otherwise, about how to write a successful short story; and the final message of the story is that narrative derives its power from mistakes, in deviations from formula and expectation.No such deeper commentary is available in Maupassant's works.
Though Fusco is absolutely right in arguing that Maupassant's reputation by the turn of the century was nearly unsurpassed, he finally makes too large a claim for Maupassant's influence on American writers (or at least those he chooses to discuss).And, though Fusco's book is filled with interesting historical connections among editors, their magazines and key writers, he finally leaves out any larger historical commentary which might serve to remind the reader that the sort of "trick endings" he examines were not in fact invented by Maupassant, but have been around as long as narrative itself.