Readers may recall that I resolved to read all of the short stories in a certain three-volume anthology of New Yorker stories. Here’s the first batch:
Dorothy Parker, “Arrangement in Black and White,” October 9, 1927
Plot: A silly socialite is cluelessly racist to a black jazz musician at a party.
Noah Webster alert: A “grass widow” is a divorcée.
Marc Connelly, “Barmecide’s Feast,” December 24, 1927
Plot: A wealthy couple make the rounds on Christmas Eve but lack a certain something.
Worthy of note: The word “phoned” has an apostrophe in front of it.
Noah Webster alert: “Kelly pool” is a type of pocket billiards as well as the source of the phrase “behind the eight ball.”
Joel Sayre, “Love in the Snow,” January 9, 1932
Plot: A teenage boy at a winter resort finds that love cannot conquer all.
Hot quotation: “George Bush got very embarrassed, and, although they teased and coaxed him a long time, he kept insisting that he didn’t have any girl and finally got sore and told Bill Preston to shut up before he got a rap on the jaw.”
Noah Webster alert: a “one-step dance” is, er, a kind of dance.
Dated reference: Charlie Jewtraw
Edwin Corle, “The Great Manta,” May 5, 1934
Plot: A doorman at a movie palace is unruffled by the arrival of marine competition across the street.
Hot quotation: “Sixth Avenue is an ambiguous street.”
St. Clair McKelway, “Ping-Pong,” September 12, 1936
Plot: After a game of ping-pong at a resort, a shallow fellow tells a virtual stranger about his son’s suicide.
Worthy of note: Long monologues—no longer fashionable. Elaboration of the pain lurking behind a man’s bland façade would not work today; readers would assume as a matter of course that a bland person was hiding pain.
Best story: “Love in the Snow”
Hello! I’m Emily Gordon, an editor, critic, copywriter, and pre-web internet nut. Emdashes, born in 2004, spent many years as a New Yorker fan blog. The project garnered some nice compliments and press.
The blog’s now treading the territories of punctuation, publications, movies, design, and other things that stir me.
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