Tall Tales

In a tall tale one, or all, the elements of the story – setting, characters, or plot – are greatly exaggerated.

Jim Baker’s Blue-Jay Yarn | Mark Twain

The narrator knows a man, Jim Baker, who understands animal talk. Apparently, animal speech varies just as human speech does, by education, vocabulary level and excitability. He relates a story of a determined blue jay.

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The Blood Bay | Annie Proulx

Three cowboys ride in the bitter cold and stay in an acquaintance’s shack with him and his horses for a night. A misunderstanding alarms the home owner.

Read here (First story)

The Leap | Louise Erdrich

The narrator’s mother, Anna, is the surviving member of a blindfolded trapeze act. Anna is blind now but still moves with certainty. The narrator relates some of her mother’s life, including a time when her home caught on fire.

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Dinner Time | Russell Edson

An old man waits for his wife to serve dinner. She makes a lot of noise and has a hard time with it, while he becomes impatient and starts punching himself. Their behavior escalates into absurdity as they get more annoyed.

Read “Dinner Time”

Gogol’s Wife | Tomasso Landolfi

The narrator, a biographer, knows everything about Gogol and knew him personally. He is reluctant to reveal something about Gogol—something that could offend or confuse many people. As a biographer he feels obligated to say what he knows about Gogol’s wife.

Read “Gogol’s Wife”