Short stories by Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle produced more than forty volumes, including novels, short stories, poems, essays, an autobiography, translations, and children’s books. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1902, she was raised in Cincinnati. Her mother, Katherine Evans Boyle, played a crucial part in her literary artistic, and political initiation. In 1922, she moved to New York where she became the assistant of Lola Ridge, the American editor of Broom magazine, and met William Carlos Williams who became her friend and literary mentor. In June 1923, she married her first husband, the Frenchman Richard Brault, and moved to France. The coupled lived a few weeks with Brault’s parents in Britanny before settling near Le Havre, in Normandy. During these first months of expatriation, Boyle completed her first novel, Process (2001), and started publishing stories and poems in several small magazines, including BroomThis QuarterMorada, and transition. She also started a correspondence with the Italian-American writer Emmanuel Carnevali. In 1926, she left Brault for Ernest Walsh, This Quarter’s editor and the father of her first child. After Walsh’s premature death, she relocated to Paris and became an active contributor to transition while publishing three more autobiographical novels, among which Plagued by the Nightingale (1931) and Year Before Last (1932). Among her close friends were editors and publishers Eugene Jolas, Robert McAlmon, and Caresse and Harry Crosby. Her first collection of stories, Plagued by the Nightingale, appeared in 1931. In the early 1930s, she lived in the South of France, near Villefranche-sur-Mer, with her second husband, Laurence Vail, and their children. Other fellow expatriates lived nearby, including Sasha Berkman and Robert Carlton Brown with whom Boyle became friends. At that time, she produced several literary translations from the French; Joseph Delteil’s Don Juan, Raymond Radiguet’s The Devil in the Flesh, and an extract from René Crevel’s Babylone. In 1933, the family left France for Austria where Boyle wrote Death of a Man (1936). Between 1936 and 1940, they lived in England and the French Alps. The 1930s were a very productive decade in Boyle’s career, and the fiction and short fiction she produced at the end of the 1930s, including The White Horses of Vienna and Other Stories (1936) and Three Short Novels (1938), is generally considered to be her finest. In 1941, the Vail family returned to the United States where Boyle produced commercial novels inspired from wartime France. She divorced from Vail and married the Austrian expatriate Joseph von Franckenstein. In 1946-1953, she travelled to France and occupied Germany as a New Yorker foreign correspondent, and produced The Smoking Moutain: Stories of Postwar Germany (1951) and, a few years later, Generation without Farewell (1960). During a McCarthy era, Boyle and Franckenstein were subjected to Loyalty-Security hearings. In 1963, after her husband’s death, Boyle settled in San Francisco. She taught creative writing at San Francisco State College and was involved in the students’ strike in 1968-1969. These experiences provided material for her essays in The Long Walk at San Francisco State (1970), her poems in Testament for My Students (1970), and her novel The Underground Woman (1975). In 1968, she produced Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930, by revising Robert McAlmon’s autobiography and adding alternate chapters and an afterword. Her complete verse was published in Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (1991). She died in San Francisco in 1992.

Listing 12 stories.

A young American woman visits her lover in Austria, torn between her passion for him and his Nazi-aligning values. Her routine visits with him and his sister occur during historical annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany.

A Frenchman tells the story of his escape from the Germans and how he believes the French have lost, not because of the battle, but because they have lost the French women and the French spirit.

A young girl tries to connect to a mysterious, sullen Frenchman whose only love seems to be his ship.

A woman trying to get a flight to America begins to spend time with the attendant who booked her flight and learns about his personal history.

A man of mysterious origins comes under suspicion in a French village when the outbreak of WWII throws his allegiance into question and a death occurs on the grounds of his hotel.

An aging writer grapples with an existential crisis as he struggles to continue loving his wife.

Using the pension from their beloved father, three German sisters stay at a boarding house in France and pretend to be wealthy ladies. The trio spot a handsome Englishman, and the eldest girl delicately crafts a story to prevent him from discovering their impoverished upbringing.

The relationship between the Italians and the French run thin before and after the armistice, and two men (one Italian and one British) living in France try to understand where their place in the world is.

A young Italian teenager who served in World War II alongside American soldiers no longer has any living relatives in Italy. A friend who is a Black soldier offers to house him, but the Consul wants to keep the two races separate.

A doctor is injured in the mountains outside of Vienna, and a new doctor comes to help him with patients. The doctor's wife is shocked when she discovers that her husband's replacement is Jewish.