Short Stories—021: Stockton, Chopin, Twain

This week’s stories are all about IRONY!

I was famous at my school in NYC when, on 9/11, while we were standing on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, I “taught” irony to my students. We had evacuated, and were in that brief moment between the airplane crashes and the towers’ collapse. I was standing on a park bench by Castle Clinton, whistling for more of our students to join me. As we stood around, trying to look calm, I had the kids look at the Statue of Liberty, then look at the terrorist attacks. Liberty. Terror.
The kids got it.

This week, however, we play with two fun short stories and a deeply satiric essay. The first is one you may or may not know, “The Lady or the Tiger,” written by Frank Stockton. He lived from 1834 to 1902. Here he is. Nice lookin’ fellah, eh?

The second story we’ll listen to today is one of my favorites. In fact, if you have kids who are in junior high or high school, have them listen to these stories a couple of times, then talk to them. They’ll never have a hard time with Irony again (which is good, because it’s the easiest way for them to mess up on those high-stakes tests!). The second is “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. Here’s Kate.

The last piece I’ve been forced to read myself as it was obvious to me that the Librivox reader kinda missed the point…or wasn’t able to communicate it clearly enough when reading it out loud. It’s Mark Twain’s “War Prayer” and it’s pretty brutal. However, it’s also timely and something important that we should probably all think about. Twain wrote this when he was unhappy with US actions in the Philippines. Whether you’re encouraged by our current overseas actions or not, it’s not bad to sit back and think about the point Twain brings up in his short essay/story/parable. He’s a master of satire, and like all satire, if taken at face value, he’ll simply look like a monster and that will be the end of it.

Either way, I hope you enjoy this, our first day of short stories.

Today, “The Lady or the Tiger” was read by Alice (that’s all she wrote, folks!), and “The Story of an Hour” and “War Prayer” was read by Yours Truly. As always, the theme music was “Chasing Hiro” by Joshua Christian, podsafe music from Garageband.com.

4 thoughts on “Short Stories—021: Stockton, Chopin, Twain

  1. Irishclover

    Hey Heather! I’m writing before I’ve listened to this week’s episode, but wanted to drop you a quick note. I love two of the three and am looking forward to being introduced to “War Prayer” for the first time. Thanks for doing this podcast. I look forward to the story and your discussion on it every week.

    I also wanted to let you know that after listening to Pride and Predjudice, my view on an old favorite song has really opened up. My son loves the movie Shrek which uses Joan Jett’s song “Bad Reputation.” I heard the lyrics and couldn’t help but think that Joan Jett is a 1980s version of Lydia down to the “t.” Plus, when DS begins asking why she does what she wants to do, I’ll have a whole different explanation.
    Thanks!

  2. Julie D.

    Boy oh boy, did I LOVE those stories. In fact, I loved them so much that I am downloading this episode at home for my daughter to listen to, having piqued her interest with a brief description of each. Great picks, Heather!

  3. Janice

    Another show on tv that’s good for some satire is South Park.

    Thanks for the 3 short pieces. I don’t think I’d ever read the Kate Chopin story, and it’s been ages and ages since I read the other two.

  4. Heather

    Duh! I can’t beleive I forgot South Park. They’re definitely pioneers in Satire. I think “Blame Canada” in their film was about the funniest Satire I’ve seen in years. Thank you For Smoking was also good, come to think of it. I wish more people’d seen that movie.

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