This is the second time I’ve read this collection, and for a few of the stories like “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” and “Flowering Judas” half a dozen or more. Katherine Anne Porter has a strange place in American literature, partly because of her placement in time–she was born around the turn of the century–and partly because she only wrote the one novel. She’s an absolute force in terms of the short stories, which predate figures writing somewhat similar stories like O’Connor (to a small degree), Welty (to a larger degree), and Paul Bowles (to a moderate degree). She also has a little bit of the American waywardness, so she often turns to contrasting places like Mexico to try to figure out what America is, especially with the stories “Flowering Judas,” “Hacienda,” and “Concepcion.” The stories in this collection are taken from a pretty big range of Porter’s life, 1923-1935, where she would have been about 25-38 or so, and so you can imagine the range of stories is quite larger. The early stories are often short sketches or vignettes, and the later stories are much longer, even for a short collection like this one. The title story is probably the one that is the star here, evidenced not only by being the title story, but also being a very well anthologized story (I read it for an intro to American lit class), and that’s partly because it’s story full of vague menace, and partly because it’s use of present tense is pretty stark and energizing (especially for a story where you get the sense that something bad is going to happen), and because the lead character is a young person, and while it might be true that young people love to read about young people, teachers love to assignment stories about young people to young people. For me, now reading it years later, I find the “Jilting of Granny Weatherall” to be the best story in the collection and certainly the most fun to read.