‘Shot of Short’ #30: The Pace of Youth by Stephen Crane

Title: The Pace of Youth by Stephen Crane
Date Read: 30 March 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: Stimson, the archetypal Victorian father is keeping a close eye on one of his merry-go-round workers, due to the advances on his daughter Lizzie. Although Stimson has yet to see the man in close proximity with his daughter, their eye contact across the crowded fairground is evidence enough for Stimson to steam at the collar and issue a strong warning or two.

Afterthoughts: I’m pleased to say that my first introduction to Stephen Crane is a good one. The man has real talent, making this story an incredibly enjoyable one to read, at least for the first two-thirds of the story. For me it tails off somewhat towards the end but Crane’s literary ability is clear in the early stages, when he so eloquently describes the sometimes flirtatious, sometimes uncertain, behaviour between the courting couple. Definitely worth reading for this alone but who knows, you may like the ending a lot better than I did.

Notable Quote: “Often the dark-eyed girl peered between the shining wires, and, upon being detected by the young man, she usually turned her head away quickly to prove to him that she was not interested. At other times, however, her eyes seemed filled with a tender fear lest he should fall from that exceedingly dangerous platform. As for the young man, it was plain that these glances filled him with valor, and he stood carelessly upon his perch, as if he deemed it of no consequence that he might fall from it.”

Rating: ★★★½☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).