Short stories by Meridel Le Sueur
Meridel Le Sueur (February 22, 1900, Murray, Iowa – November 14, 1996, Hudson, Wisconsin) was an American writer associated with the proletarian literature movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Born as Meridel Wharton, she assumed the name of her mother's second husband, Arthur Le Sueur, the former Socialist mayor of Minot, North Dakota. Le Sueur, the daughter of William Winston Wharton and Marian "Mary Del" Lucy, was born into a family of social and political activists. Her grandfather was a supporter of the Protestant fundamentalist temperance movement, and she "grew up among the radical farmer and labor groups ... like the Populists, the Farmers' Alliance and the Wobblies, the Industrial Workers of the World." Le Sueur was heavily influenced by poems and stories that she heard from Native American women. "After a year studying dance and physical fitness at the American College of Physical Education in Chicago, Illinois, Meridel moved to New York City, where she lived in an anarchist commune with Emma Goldman and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts." Her acting career primarily took place in California, where she worked in Hollywood as an extra in The Perils of Pauline and Last of the Mohicans, as a stuntwoman in silent movies, and as a writer and journalist. Starting in her late teens, she wrote for liberal newspapers about unemployment, migrant workers, and the Native American fight for autonomy. By 1925, she had become a member of the Communist Party. Like other writers of the period such as John Steinbeck, Nelson Algren, and Jack Conroy, Le Sueur wrote about the struggles of the working class during the Great Depression. She published articles in the New Masses and The American Mercury. She wrote several popular children's books, including the biographies, Nancy Hanks of Wilderness Road, The Story of Davy Crockett, and The Story of Johnny Appleseed, and Sparrow Hawk, among others. Her best known books are North Star Country (1945), a people's history of Minnesota, Salute to Spring, and the novel The Girl, which was written in the 1930s but not published until 1978. In the 1950s, Le Sueur was blacklisted as a communist, but her reputation was revived in the 1970s, when she was hailed as a proto-feminist for her writings in support of women's rights. She also wrote on goddess spirituality in a poetry volume titled Rites of Ancient Ripening, which was illustrated by her daughter. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, she taught writing classes in her mother's home on Dupont Avenue near Douglas Avenue in Minneapolis. She was something of a magnet for aspiring writers, drawing students from as far as New York City. She lived in the Twin Cities for some time. During the 1960s, she traveled around the country, attending campus protests and conducting interviews. In the 1970s, she spent much time living among the Navajo people in Arizona, returning to Minnesota in the summers to visit her growing extended family and friends. Late in her life, she lived with family in Minnesota.
Listing 5 stories.
Though plagued by her economic circumstances, a pregnant former circus performer finds life blooming all around her when she forms a special connection with her boarding house’s pear tree.
A farming town in Kansas contains a strange woman and her daughter, which seem to be connected with the earth and farming yields. When the daughter is taken from the town, the land seems to go barren.
A married couple tries to make ends meet for their hungry and sick children in the midst of the Depression but soon realize that sheer willpower cannot save them from the ruthless winter.
Seasonal changes and religious renewal spark melancholy in a teenage girl as she realizes the realities of womanhood by observing her mother.
A woman driving through California picks up a hitchhiking man, sparking her to reflect on the ways she is perceived, and desires to be perceived, as a woman in a male-dominated world.