Katherine Anne Porter’s Collected Stories (Amazon) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction.
Miranda is excited and afraid. The family has taken her to her first circus. There’s a loud brass band, flaring lights and the strangely made-up performers, along with the raucous reaction of the crowd. Miranda is overwhelmed by the environment.
Laura, an American, is in Mexico City after the Mexican Revolution working for the revolutionary cause and its leader, the socialist Braggioni. Braggioni indulges himself and tries to seduce Laura. Her religious and revolutionary ideals are tested.
Miranda and her brother Paul, nine and twelve, go out to hunt rabbits and birds as they often do. Along the way they stop at the family burial ground. The remains have been moved to the public cemetery. They explore the graves. Then they go out on their hunt.
Read “The Grave”
The Whipples live in poverty and have three children, one of them mute and mentally challenged, the He of the title. Mrs. Whipple hates being pitied, and takes every opportunity to praise the boy. She is always worried about what everyone else will think of her.
This is the sixth story in the preview of Collected Stories and Other Writings.
The narrator relates a time when she wanted to take a country holiday to escape some troubles. Her friend Louise arranged a visit with a German peasant family in Texas, the Müllers. She meets the large extended family. There’s lots of activity when she arrives. She likes that the talking is in German; she can’t understand it and doesn’t have to answer. Also in the house is a crippled and badly deformed servant girl whom the family pays no attention to.
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
Doctor Harry checks on Granny Weatherall, a bed-ridden woman of almost eighty. She’s uncooperative and wants him to leave. She thinks about what she’ll do tomorrow. She has to go through her box of letters from George and John. She doesn’t need the children finding them. She thinks about her life, including the time she was left at the altar.
The Grandmother and old Nannie sit together with their sewing in their later years. Everything is different now. They don’t like change. They only talk about the past. They love it even though they both had their own hardships. We learn the history of both women back to when they met as children. They came from vastly different backgrounds and family circumstances.
A maid tells her employer the story of a woman who worked in a brothel. She quarreled bitterly with the madam and said she was leaving, which led to a physical confrontation.
This is the fourth story in the preview of Collected Stories and Other Writings.
“María Concepción” by Katherine Anne Porter
Maria and Juan are a young married couple. Maria works hard, is frugal, and is respected in her Mexican town. She is pregnant. Although she doesn’t believe in the remedies of the local medicine-woman, Maria feels she needs honey to prevent her child from being “marked” in some way. She goes to her place, where a young beekeeper, Maria Rosa, also lives.
This is the first story in the preview of Collected Stories and Other Writings.
A married couple has just moved to the country. The man returns from the village with supplies. He has some groceries and a twenty-four-yard coil of rope. He’s forgotten to get the coffee his wife wanted. She’s upset. She also questions the purchase of the rope when they don’t seem to need it for anything. What’s more, some of the eggs have been damaged, probably by the rope. It sets off an argument.
This is the fifth story in the preview of Collected Stories and Other Writings.
In early summer the Grandmother longs for the country. She makes inquiries about the farm and then makes plans to leave her city place and go. As soon as she arrives, she inspects the grounds and begins setting things straight. Taking it section by section, everything is cleaned and tidied up.
A woman realizes her purse is missing but she had it when she came in. She thinks back on the events of the evening to figure out what happened to it. She had several brief interactions; she sifts through the details.
Uncle Jimbilly is very old and almost bent double from years of work. He does all kinds of repair work and also makes little carvings of tombstones. He also talks seemingly to himself but loud enough for others to hear. He often tells of his memories from the days of slavery.