Short Stories for Street Humanities

Sept. 10, 2013

Short Stories for Street Humanities

  • “Borders,” by Thomas King. This is the story of a young boy and his mother who are crossing the border from Alberta, Canada, to the United States to visit the boy’s sister in Salt Lake City. It’s about identity, colonization, Aboriginal pride, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny and poignant by turns.
  • “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson. When Jackson’s story was published in 1948 in The New Yorker, the magazine received piles of angry letters from readers who were upset by it. If you haven’t read it, read it. I won’t spoil it for you here. You can have some great discussions about ritual, tradition, and going along with the crowd.
  • “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker. About what happens when a daughter in an African-American family returns home from college for the holiday and wants to take some of the family heirlooms. Great for discussing ideas of identity, tradition, roots, the quest for authenticity.
  • Chapter 3 of the novel Summer of My Amazing Luck by Miriam Toews. This particular chapter is about the protagonist’s quest to get her welfare payments set up. Toews’ touch is light and humorous but her eye is unflinching when she examines our societal drive to humiliate and punish those attempting to access the social safety net.
  • “The Metaphor,” by Budge Wilson. Narrated by a girl who is introduced to literature by her eccentric and caring elementary school English teacher.
  • “Neighbours,” by Raymond Carver. About a couple who agree to look after the apartment across the hall while the occupants are away, and how their quiet envy of their seemingly more glamorous neighbours ends up expressing itself.
  • “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros. Very poignant, very short story of a girl bullied by her classmates and teachers on her eleventh birthday.
  • “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe. Spooky classic about a tale of revenge set in an unnamed Italian city.