Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Short Story

A few months ago I happened to borrow a book from the library titled The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.  I don't usually enjoy short stories too much, so I just leafed through it, thinking I'd return it the next time I went to the library.  I did return it the next time I went, but not until after I read one of the stories.

"Little Selves" by Mary Lerner jumped out at me.  What could this be?  A story about children?  A story about multiple personalities?  It was winner of the best short story of the year in 1916, a year after my mom was born.  So I began reading....  And was enthralled.  I was immediately taken in by the author's Irish-accented dialogs and charmed with the characters.

This story isn't a genealogy story but in my mind it's absolutely connected with the work of family history.

The story begins, "Margaret O'Brien, a great-aunt and seventy-five, knew she was near the end."  Neighbors came to visit and received her attention for 5 or 10 minutes, but she tired of them and they left.  Margaret's niece, Anna Lennan, noticed that Margaret seemed to talk to herself quite a lot.

If I tell you more, I'll spoil the story, but you can read
"Little Selves" online.  It's a brief 15 pages long and won't take more than about 10 minutes to read.

I'll share this quote to entice you:  "Sometimes they seem to be pleading just not to be forgotten...."  Does that sound like family history or what?!

Oh, that my own dear Grandma had been like Margaret O'Brien and I had been like her niece Anna.

If you read it, please tell me what you think.


  1. What a lovely story! And that way we have at looking at our younger selves when we pull up memories - that's spot on. Thank you for recommending this.

  2. You're very welcome. It's one of my favorites.


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