Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: 75 Short Masterpieces, Edited By Roger Goodman

I mentioned this book in my thoughts and points for February 2012, in order to summarize random tidbits of what form of entertaining nostalgia has been floating around my mind during the last month. One of which was this collection of short stories throughout world literature called 75 Short Masterpieces. The series was edited by Roger Goodman and features material from authors of all different countries and of different time periods.

Reading this series was indeed a fascinating experience. I can honestly say that there were some short stories that I enjoyed and grasped better than others. When I mean short stories, I mean six pages or less for just about everything in this book. The finished product is just about under 300 pages, thus the average story was about four pages. Nonetheless, the stories were highly enjoyable.

Of course, you are going to probably have your own opinions as to which stories were your favorite. Here are my favorites in the book...

"The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon- I'm currently running a Literature Club at my college and one of my obligations includes recommending short stories for the club to read and discuss. This happens to be one of them. This short story depicts an important piece of history that includes the prejudice that people hold among the lower kind. The lottery in this case has to do with a beautiful female dancer they are raffling off and one of the attendees is a minority.

"A Wicked Boy" by Anton Chekhov- Chekhov is one of the finest short story writers. In this collection, he submitted a story about a pesky little brother who spies on his older sister and her boyfriend as they engage in their relationship activities. Then they become closer and ultimately catch him. When you see what happens from there, you will realize how clever the story was and laugh at the "getting what you deserved" notion.

"The Chaser" by John Collier- In this story, a man is buying a love potion from an older man. If his wife drinks the potion, she is supposed to become obsessed with him. The message I see is the fact that some things are just good to be true. Read it if you want to see if that notion happens to occur. There was an episode of The Twilight Zone based off of this short story.

"The Heavenly Christmas Tree" by Fyodor Dostoevsky- In this allegorical story, a poor boy comes across a giant Christmas tree, happening to be Christ's and comes across other heavenly children. This is a beautiful story for the holiday season that I would recommend for that time period.

"The Boy Who Drew Cats" by Lafcadio Hearn- This is a story of a boy who enjoys drawing cats. He doesn't do so well in any other activity or craft, including priesthood, the priests suggest that he become an artist. They advise him to avoid large places at night, a piece of advice that becomes crucial to the story. I enjoyed the flow of this short story and the effect that this boy's imagination had and how everybody holds a role in life.

"Charles" by Shirley Jackson- I read this story when I was a young one, so this is the second time I have read this. This happens to be one of my favorite short stories ever. I enjoy Shirley Jackson and the way she executes the many forms of making your reader think after all is said and done. While she intended to do it with "Charles," it took very little time to realize the notion. Think about it, the story is about a kindergarten student named Laurie who comes home, talking about all of these bad things that a student named Charles is always doing in class and it's being told from the mother's point of view.

"The Oval Portrait" by Edgar Allan Poe- Poe is one of my favorite authors... ever! He is the already proclaimed father of the detective story and I proclaim him (as many others should or already do) as the father of horror fiction. This is not one of the stories or poems that receives high recognition like "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Black Cat," or "The Raven," but it provides the reader with some entertainment. It has to do with an artist who marries a woman and enjoys her portrait more than her. It plays like a feel like that of The Picture Of Dorian Gray, but with a far different notion.

These are seven of my favorite short stories from this book. I'm sure that those who read this will come up with their favorites, which is exactly what this kind of book is supposed to do. This short little book provides a great opportunity to lure you in to the finest gems of literature. While every story may not quench your interest, there are stories that will most definitely seek your satisfaction. I would most definitely check this book out if you're beginning to read world literature.

Verdict: 8/10

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