When people get together in a school, with their class
led by a staff member or teacher, they sometimes collect
thoughts on paper, items that represent that time in space,
and store them in a nearly indestructible container. They
call these, “Time Capsules.”
I think when we read a good short story, fellow blogger’s
post or a short book, we are reading something, I just
gave a title to, “Capsulized Life Images.”
I wonder if it also, could be called, “Encapsulated Life
I enjoy reading compilations of short stories by famous
authors. I recently completed Stephen King’s newer book
with his collection of four harrowing and creepy stories.
It is called, “Full Dark, No Stars,” (2010). It is not as
good as some of my favorites, like the one that inspired
“Green Mile,” and “Shawshank Redemption,” movies.
The first story, let me tell you, had me dreaming, in
nightmare form, about rats! Thanks, Stephen King!
The scary ‘classics,’ to me include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
Edgar Allen Poe and Agatha Christie.
I have been thinking about the other genres of short stories,
which include family stories and humorous forays into
everyday life situations and how the author uses his or her
When I was reading short stories, in high school, I really
enjoyed our World Literature book. Someone had taken the
time, a team of staff, I suppose, to compile some of the
most unusual and interesting stories. One that ‘sticks’
in my mind, was titled, “The Scarlet Ibis.” This story was
written and published in the magazine, “The Atlanta Monthly,”
in 1960, by James Hurst. It is considered ‘rich in symbolism’
and it has a metaphor of the majestic yet fragile bird,
compared to a weak, sickly child. The one who is telling the
story, calls himself, “Brother,” and his younger, more fragile
brother is called, “Doodle.” Apparently my memory served me
very well, in this instance, since the story is included in
many compilations of short stories. It is a sad one, but well
worthy of reading (or re-reading) for its simple but memorable
Humor, as a different genre, captures relatable stories of
family. Such as odd occurrences like in, “The Night The Bed Fell,”
by James Thurber. Thurber’s stories were expanded into a likable
television show, “My World… and Welcome to It.” I liked this
show, although they only had 26 episodes of it, starring the
fun loving, William Windom. He was a daydreamer, as some writers
seem to be, visualizing ways to make life better, or imagining
a whole different world.
Hey, have you ever read, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?” This
was released in movie form, in October, 2013. The movie is based
on a short story with the same name. Check out the story or the
movie to find out how an author transcends his time period of
The short book, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” by Jean Kerr,
contains images that capture your “Aha!” moments. Sometimes this
helps you to relate, despite the contrast between your life and
the one of being a career parent, (Jean Kerr was a playwright)
with rampant children loose in your New York apartment suite. This
became a television show, a song sung by Doris Day and a movie.
I like P.G. Wodehouse’s sense of humor, sometimes at the ‘expense’
of the upper class in England. Once you read his biography, you
realize why this is true. He was only three years old, a son of a
British judge in Hong Kong, when he was sent back to England to be
raised by a nanny. His dependence on servants, helped him to
develop a deep affection and respect for them.
Once P.G. or Pelham Grenville, also known as “Plum,” reached
school age, he was sent off to boarding school, where all his
holidays were spent with his two brothers and a series of aunts.
“Plum” developed a rather devoted habit of writing short stories
and essays. One biographer said he wrote ‘relentlessly’ in his
spare time. Good thing to remember, as we have heard this before,
great artists, craftsmen, musicians and authors, practice their
Writing and being a ‘cricketer’ (one who plays cricket) were his
only passions. He had a sharp tongue, got himself in serious
trouble while in Germany, on a radio show, making light-hearted
jabs at the ‘regime.’ Can you imagine ‘giving lip’ while WWII was
going on? Since this was during Hitler’s time of control, Wodehouse
was placed in an internment camp for over a year.
If you are trying to place P.G. Wodehouse, his books include the
character of “Jeeves.” There is a series of books and movies that
were taken from the books. The pictures he shows of servants are
smart and clever, able to manage households and help with his
character’s detective work, too.
The main character in his “Jeeve’s” series of books is Bertie
Wooster. He is a rather ‘spoiled’ rich young man, but tries to
be kind, helpful and be counted on, by his ‘pals,’ and women
who say they are engaged to him, he won’t confront them and
deny this! Lots of fun, some drunken incidents, and reminds me
of the impetus for the character,
In another book P.G. Wodehouse wrote, “Blandings Castle,” again
the servants are friends of the ones who are head of household,
the main characters are upper crust, who sometimes aren’t quite
as important as they think they are. He liked to ‘make fun’ of
the rich, along with business men and persons in the law. His
father being a judge didn’t prevent his getting into and out of
trouble. Reminds me of the stories of ‘preacher’s kids’ or P.K.’s,
who were the rabble rousers in our small town, growing up and in
Delaware, I knew one, too!
The subject being short stories, I would like to recommend the one
called, “Strychnine in the Soup.” He incorporates another kind of
interesting character, the strong-willed, independent, sometimes
older woman. These women can be sometimes, ‘troublemakers.’ In this
short story, Archibald Mulliner is the detective from a wealthy
family and Lady Bassett is the older woman.
Interestingly enough, A. A. Milne did not respect Wodehouse’s escape
from the internment, feeling that his wealth had bought him out
of it. There is a rather silly poem, where P.G. Wodehouse imitates
Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” style, but it is meant to be satirical.
I was excited to know many authors respect Wodehouse and that
Agatha Christie dedicated her book, “Halloween Party” to him.
In 1975, due to the WWII internment and his body of work,
Wodehouse was knighted, Sir Pelham Greenville Wodehouse. He
had written 15 plays, numerous books and collaborations for
250 songs in 30 musical comedies, with Jerome Kern and Guy
Bolton. Wodehouse died in that year of his knighthood, at age
93. A life well-lived, indeed. To me, his stories gave me a
‘window’ into a world I will never inhabit and made it quite
The final thought I wished to impart is that when we speak of
writing, we include the hope for longevity. The writers of short
stories, listed here, and others you may already know and love,
all have captured our hearts by breathing life into their