Short Stories

by Jan Epton Seale

Texas Christian University Press, 1992. ISBN 0875651003.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 01/08/2005


Over the years, I have avoided reading short stories—other people's short stories, that is. I felt like they were unfulfilling and ended too soon. But recently I was laid up for a while and was searching for something to help me stop thinking about myself. I noticed Jan Seale's book, which I had purchased at a writers' conference a number of years ago, and thought I'd give it a look.

What a marvelous surprise! I was hooked after the first story about a gentleman who—while taking chemo treatments—was building a purple martin birdhouse as a way of looking forward to a future and to make his mistake-of-a-second-wife crazy.

Although the stories in this book are only a few pages long, each one stands alone as a unique slice of life. All are done from the perspective of different characters—old, young, men, women, different ethnicities and races. And you feel you are that person.

My favorite was To Reap, To Thresh, about a farmer who was planning his tombstone with a picture of a combine chiseled on it. What a great idea—to have a monument that shows what you did in this life. It makes you think, What would I put on mine?

I highly recommend this book. You can read one story at a time and have lots to reflect on or consume the whole book like I did. Then you can go back and read them over again.

Jan Epton Seale is also the author of two books of poetry. Her short stories have been widely circulated through the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project, published in literary magazines, and broadcast on NPR. She has taught at the University of North Texas and the University of Texas, is an Artist-in-the-Schools for the Texas Commission on the Arts, and lives in McAllen, Texas.

(See another review of this book, here)

Check out our interview with the author of Airlift.

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