John Hughes in Very, Very Short Form


Though the creative output of John Hughes had slowed to a crawl in the decade preceding his death in August at age 59, the iconic director’s alter ego JL Hudson wasn’t taking to retirement quite so easily. Penning screenplays, essays, and fiction for his own amusement, some of his later writing — imbued with the same irreverent, sly but tender narrative quality as his film work — saw the light of day as a series called Very, Very Short Stories (some only four brief paragraphs in length). Excerpts after the jump.

For maximum Hughes, we paired excerpts from four Very, Very Short Stories with stills from a few of his most beloved films: Planes, Trains & Automobiles, The Breakfast Club, Uncle Buck, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

From The Things That Bother Jeanne Marie on Friday, January 16, 2006, 4:04 p.m.: She took a test sip of her nonfat triple-vanilla almond latte. “Too fucking hot,” she whispered. “And the goddamn milk’s burned. Great. Three dollars for scorched milk and inauthentic syrup from Italy. What kind of fool am I?”

From Eulogy for Mildred Penniman: “Mildred Penniman,” he said softly, pausing between syllables, “was a teacher, a community leader, and an autogynephilic transsexual.”

From Ulysses S. Grant’s Last Battle: He thought of General G. A. Custer, vain fool with golden hair flying in the prairie breeze, surrounded on all sides, outnumbered, doomed, falling to his knees, pissing his britches, spitting blood, and vanishing into the eternal darkness pulling the trigger of his empty Colt revolver.

From The New Yorker #6: “How about my Pastel de Tres Leches?” Ashley asked as she nail-scraped a splatter of dried pigeon shit off one of her container-grown tomatoes.

Read the four stories in their entirety on, with permission from the John Hughes Estate. David Kamp’s profile of Hughes will be published in the March 2010 issue of the magazine.