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The Collected Short Stories of Harriette Simpson Arnow

Harriette Simpson Arnow

Publication Year: 2012

Harriette Simpson Arnow is an American treasure. Of the twenty-five stories in this collection, fifteen were previously unpublished. Until now, the short fiction of Arnow has remained relatively obscure despite the literary acclaim given to her novels The Dollmaker and Hunter’s Horn. These stories, written early in her career for the most part, reveal an artistic vision and narrative skill and serve as harbingers for her later work. They echo her interest in both agrarian and urban communities, the sharpening of her social conscience, and her commitment to creating credible and complex characters. This collection is organized against the backdrop of her life, from Kentucky in the 1920s to Ohio and Kentucky in the 1930s and to Michigan in the 1940s. As Arnow fans read these early gems, they will be led from gravel roads to city pavement and open layers of Arnow’s development as a novelist to expose the full range of her contributions to American literature.
     In 1938, Esquire purchased "The Hunters," which was eventually published as "The Two Hunters," a chilling story of a seventeen-year- old boy’s confrontation with a deputy sheriff. At the time, Esquire did not accept submissions from women, and its editors had no idea that writer H. L. Simpson was not a man. Years later, she admitted in an interview, "it worried me a little, that big lie, but I thought if they wanted a story, let them have it." Esquire paid her $125 for this story. The contributor’s notes at the back of the magazine include a photo of "H.L.Simpson," actually a photo of one of her brothers-in-law. It was her little joke on a publisher that discriminated against women....
—from the Introduction

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

HARRIETTE SIMPSON ARNOW'S short stories have been on library shelves for years. To locate them, readers would have to search through university archives and dusty back issues of magazines and journals ranging from Southern Review, Esquire, and The Atlantic Monthly to little literary magazines that are now out of...

Kentucky: The 1920s

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Winky Creek's New Song

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pp. 3-9

Arnow later remarked that she had written it during her junior year in high school and surreptitiously typed it single-spaced on her mother's stationery before mailing it to the only magazine for children to which her mother subscribed. When it was returned, typed double...

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Dreams Come True

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pp. 10-18

Ann, have you heard the latest?" Jeanette sang out, as Ann and her younger sister Willie entered the kitchen. Not giving her sister time to answer, Jeanette continued: ''You know those awful Godbys. Well, Mrs. Godby sent her little boy up here to know if you wouldn't be so kind as to come down and cook...

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The Goat Who Was a Cow

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pp. 19-30

With a great yawn Jezebel Denny tossed the dog-eared geometry from her, shifted her sprawling position on the floor, and then as she thoughtfully masticated the rubber tip of her pencil, she leveled her searching, pensive gaze upon me. I, too, closed my textbook, thinking it worse than useless to try to cram...

Ohio & Kentucky: The 1930s

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Marigolds and Mules

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pp. 32-39

l topped at Mrs. Joe Madigan's.1 liked talking to her. She was young. Not so old as my mother. She was cooking black bean soup with cheese and onion. She gave me a taste.1 remember wishing it were a bowlful. "I made it special for Joe," she said. "Will he be home for...

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A Mess of Pork

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pp. 40-49

This story appeared in the first issue of the small literary journal The New Talent (October-December 1935): 4-11. On the first page of "A Mess of Pork," an editorial note promised "a story filled with latent power, rising to a tremendous and fascinating sweep of horror. A story you will remember." Apparently anticipating criticism for her story's grim reality, Arnow defended her...

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Ketchup-Making Saturday

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pp. 50-59

Daisy shoved her buttocks hard against my stomach again, and 1 heard eggs sizzle in the little skillet with the broken handle. Delphie's elbows raked my spine, and I wiggled a little and thought that coffee and cornbread and bacon would taste good in this half way time between midnight and morning...

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The Washerwoman's Day

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pp. 60-65

"It was pneumonia all right, but the lye maybe had something to do with it," Granma said. Mama shifted Joie to her other breast. "Ollie Rankin ought to have had more sense," she said. "She didn't know the old fool would take off her shoes and scrub the kitchen barefooted." "Can I go to the funeral...

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Zekie, The Hill-billy Mouse

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pp. 66-71

The city mouse and the country mouse had another cousin. His name was Zekie. He was a hill-billy mouse. He lived with his wife and children in the high hills. They lived in a log cabin. It was a little house with only two rooms, but it was always clean. There were many trees by Zekie's cabin. The hickory...

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An Episode in the Life of Ezekial Whitmore

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pp. 72-77

Once there was a little mouse. His name was Zekie. He had long black whiskers like a pirate. But he wasn't a pirate. He was a hill-billy mouse. He was a pure-blooded Anglo-Saxon hill-billy mouse. Literary ladies said he was. That made it true in spite of his long black whiskers. Zekie had a tail longer...

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The Two Hunters

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pp. 78-87

He was a tall boy, slender, with small hands and small feet, a narrow thin-cheeked face, and hair the color of weather-bleached sandstone. His eyes were blue, now dark, now light; quiet, bottomless eyes that, like deep quiet water, covered and revealed and reflected many things. In one hand...

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No Lady

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pp. 88-91

I've heard it said that a lot of men fell in love with her that night, my great-great Aunt Kate, the time she wore the blue satin dress with the wide foaming skirts below her narrow waist and a red rose between her breasts. The blue silk, no baby blue it was, nor dark, but bright with shadows, matched her...

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Tin Cup

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pp. 92-99

l knew it was childish of me to beg. But the room was so quiet, and all over an even grey whiteness with neither shadows nor sunshine. I'd look for hours in the hope of finding one crack,just a little one in the plaster that I might have missed, but there were no cracks there. Every day I wished one of the nurses...

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Home Coming

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pp. 100-104

Now, you oughtn't to be a settin a cryin by the fire. Here yer ole pappy comes in wet an cold an finds th big house dark an th fire low. Ain't ye shamed, Son, snubbin like a two year old? But, Pop, what's a keepin Mom so? Aye, Lord, son. You know how women talk. I can see yer Mom now a settin' up at Becky Meece's, a laughin...

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pp. 105-114

C/J lessed are the peacemakers for ... for ... "1 The words would come no further. Katy's mind was winging away to the cry of the bloodhounds, no longer faint but suddenly loud, eager, sweeping in hot quick waves of sound down the wagon road that ran below the farm. "Go on, Katy," old Mrs. Fairchild...

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The First Ride

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pp. 115-120

She heard her mother's voice, hoarse with fright pressing it into a flat stream of sound, "You'll have to hurry." And then her husband's call, "I've fin'ly got him saddled," while Rebel the big gray stallion neighed and pawed by the porch steps as if he too knew the joy of the long, wild ride that lay ahead. Her husband...

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Almost Two Thousand Years

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pp. 121-130

Time was muskmelon seeds on a dusty pavement; the lights on Mahley Tower, twinkling yellow oranges in a deep smoky sky, or one still [quiet] glow in gray rain; strawberries in the market stalls; cherry stain on dirty hands; and the smell of pineapples hanging rich and heavy in a silent sunlit street. Time was cries that went beating up and down the marketplace:...

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Fra Lippi and Me

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pp. 131-139

l didn't know she was mad. A minute before she looked at the man and smiled. That was when I heard it first. That name, Fra Lippi, I mean. She was saying something about it when I brought her tea. She looked at the cup. She looked at me. "But...

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White Collar Woman

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pp. 140-149

She didn't look it. Poetic type, some love sick school boy might have called her. Thin she was, with thin hands, and a look of brownness in her hair and eyes that seemed sometimes pure brown and then again nothing more than lights glinting. It was the lights that gave her...

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pp. 150-158

I had always known the taste of it, that is since I was big enough to feel the wind and smell dead leaves on a wet still night in fall. There were falls when it was bad, like a hunger eating through your insides. But mostly that was when I was young, less than sixteen, I guess, almost too young to dream, but plenty big enough to watch the wild geese go flying...

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Sugar Tree Holler

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pp. 159-182

Dear Cousin Sadie, They're going to investigate the WPA again, Federal Writers and all. Can you beat it. And me with $140 saved,1 and it took me eleven months to save it, and I won't just draw it out and spend it for anything. I keep thinking of that land in Sugar Tree Holler; $5 dollars an acre,...

Michigan: The 1940s & After

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King Devil's Bargain

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pp. 185-195

Twilight was darkness in the valleys, and the Ballous were finishing supper when Jaw Buster Anderson's horn call came floating down from the ridge crest. Zing, the grizzled fox hound, ran to the road gate and whined, but Nunn sat still by the eating table with...

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The Hunter

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pp. 196-208

Hour after hour the hounds, with Nunn Ballou's Zing in the lead, swung up and around Little Indian Creek over the strong hot trail that only King Devil could lay down. The men squatted in tense silence about a bumedout fire that nobody bothered to replenish-not even old Richmond,...

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The Un-American Activities of Miss Prink

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pp. 209-225

Did he mean everybody? The voice had spoken out of turn, no lifted hand above it. Still, she nodded, smiling, seeing past it as she always did, the red dust of Virginia stirred by a breath of warm wind, the people crowding...

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pp. 226-236

It seemed a sin to break that sprig of honeysuckle so fresh and pretty when she already had some in her hair. The flowers would wilt before she reached the Gospel Sing, but she'd still have the smell. Head lifted, reaching for a spray above the...

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Interruptions to School at Home

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pp. 237-250

Next morning Belle felt school was going well in spite of her absentminded lapses of worried wonderings on William's plans) or the safety of the men in Dead Man's Cave.2 Dave [Belle's twelve-year-old son] was less restless than usual; not once had he...


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pp. 251-256

Works Cited

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pp. 257-258


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pp. 259

Publication Information

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p. 279-279

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173814
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870137563

Page Count: 259
Publication Year: 2012

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