This week I’ve been gently challenged by Ola, who, in tandem with Piotrek, blogs about her reading, on Re-enchantment of the World. They recently described some Favourite Books in Five Words. This idea has, it seems, been circulating for at least a year, so I’m late – again.
I wondered whether the inspiration for this owed something to Hemmingway’s six word story. Once I’d made that connection it was inevitable that my list would be short fiction. I decided to limit myself to six that I’ve found unforgettable.
I begin with Mary Mann.
‘Who?’ you say.
I’m not surprised. She is a writer who has been shamefully neglected, so let me stretch the rules a little, and put her into context.
Mary Mann, born 1846, in Norfolk, was a merchant’s daughter who married a yeoman farmer in 1871. They had four children. Yeoman, by the way, means he farmed his own land. Many farmers were/are tenants. It has been suggested that Mary’s writing helped her transition from town life to an isolated rural community, and was a necessary supplement to the family income during the agricultural depression of the 1880s.
Women O’Dulditch, by Mary Mann (1908)
Dinah and Car’line’s ideal husband?
Bliss, by Katherine Mansfield (1918)
Revelations at Bertha’s dinner party.
Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemmingway (1927)
Listening for what’s not said.
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1955)
Fate, reverence and a circus.
The Blush, by Elizabeth Taylor (1958)
Mrs Allen listens, watches: sees.
Puss in Boots, by Angela Carter (1979)
Sex, lies, rats and love.
There could, of course, have been more. On a different day of a different month, there would have been other choices.