This is the second collection I’ve read in my informal short story project this year. For 24 days, I read one story every morning to complete this collection. Originally, I thought this collection contained all of Chopin’s short stories, but apparently not. Instead it contains selections from two published volumes – Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie – and three uncollected stories.
As far as short story collections go, this one wasn’t bad. None of the stories had the brilliance of The Awakening, sadly, but most of them were interesting in some way. There were some skim-necessary sorts of stories, too. They all took place either in New Orleans or in rural Louisiana. She wrote them much like Zora Neale Hurston writes in the oral tradition, with a dialect that is more spoken-word than dialect (I hope that makes sense!). Sometimes that made the stories hard to read, because I didn’t think her writing was as clear as Hurston’s, but other times I could fall into the rhythm and understand better. Not all characters spoke in dialect – it was generally used to denote race, upbringing, and poverty level.
There were enough stories in here that I liked that I don’t think I can highlight a handful the way I did with Nabokov’s stories. Looking over the titles, though, I think I most enjoyed the selections from Bayou Folk. The ones that worked least for me were the uncollected stories, which includes Lilacs, the title story of the collection, and which I ended up mostly skimming because it bored me. Ah well. But in any case, since I’m not a huge fan of short story collections in general, a solid, middle-of-the-road collection is a good thing for me! Plus it put me in the mood to read more Hurston, so I’m working on her collection next!