‘Why I Live at the P.O.’ by Eudora Welty

This was the first short story I read in my first ever fiction workshop (as an undergrad, with the head of the creative writing program, who intimidated me at first but was ultimately such a nurturing influence on my work). We were assigned to read this to learn about the concept of the unreliable narrator and I know this is how most of us use this story to teach in workshops as well. And yet there is so much more than unreliability – there is orneriness, petulance, hope, jealousy, even a kind of greed, including greed for the comeuppance of other people. All within the small space of a family, and all started (the story behind the story goes) by Eudora Welty spying a photograph of a woman doing her ironing at a set-up behind a local post office. 

First published in A Curtain Of Green, Harvest Books, 1941. Printed as a Penguin 60 in 1995, and currently available in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. You can hear the author read it here

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