Fourteen short works of fiction by noteworthy American women authors offer entrancing tales of redemption, betrayal, tradition, and rebellion. Dating from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, these narratives range in mood from “Heat,” Joyce Carol Oates’s chilling tale of murder, to “Why I Live at the P.O.,” Eudora Welty’s comic monologue in the Southern Gothic tradition.
Other contributors include Flannery O’Connor, Kate Chopin, and Edna Ferber as well as lesser-known, newly rediscovered writers. Edith Wharton examines the issue of divorce and remarriage in “The Other Two,” and Willa Cather explores life among Greenwich Village artists at the turn of the twentieth century in “Coming, Aphrodite!” Stories with modern settings include Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” an insightful look at the role of heritage in African-American culture, and Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl,” a meditation on memory and the transformation of old stories into new ones. Together, the tales offer a revealing panorama of perspectives on women’s ongoing struggles for dignity and self-sufficiency.