Library of America's Story of the Week

The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to producing  durable high-quality editions of the best of American writing. And it's not just fiction: their nonfiction volumes include the World War II reporting of A.J. Liebling, the movie reviews of James Agee, and the four-volume collection of diaries and letters, The Civil War Told by Those Who Lived It. If you want to get exposure to a range of American writing but are daunted by the size and number of LOA books, sign up for "Story of the Week," their free e-newsletter that sends an excerpt from an LOA volume to your inbox every week. I've been a subscriber for years. Last week LOA sent me  "The Kiss," a short story by Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932). Chesnutt was the first African-American writer acknowledged by the white literary establishment.  "The Kiss" is about a woman who has an affair with her husband's nephew. It's a rather melodramatic period piece, but the treatment of adultery is interesting considering the time period: the woman achieves redemption, while the man is the one punished--he's killed by a train. Other memorable Stories of the Week that I've received via email: "Xingu" by Edith Wharton (one of the funniest short stories I've ever read); "Remember the Ladies,"Abigail and John Adams' correspondence on women's rights, and Frederick Douglass' "Letter to His Old Master," an extraordinary window on the personal devastation created by slavery.

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