Monday, April 29, 2013

My Favourite Short Stories

I love short fiction and a great short can go in so deep in a way that, for me, is rarely accomplished by a novel. I may read a short and really rate it at the time, and the short may stay with me for a while (or its memory triggered) but even great ones fade away

These are a few of the ones that REALLY impacted me.

1. The Twenty-Seventh Man Nathan Englander.

Stalin arranges a purge of 26 writers, the greats, and somehow, a wannabe who has never been published ends up as the 27th. Heart-breaking and absolutely superb on the difference between being a mere published author and an actual WRITER.

2. A Silver Dish Saul Bellow

Fabulous language, superb characters, good story but an ending that ripped my heart out.

3. The Short Happy Life of Francis McComber (Hemingway)

Masterful, quite brilliant and SO good on sexual politics. Technically a master class.

4. The Ledge (Lawrence Sargeant Hall)

Another heart-breaker. I end up crying when I talk to students about this one. Plain language, but that somehow enhances the poignancy of "A man;s gotta do what a man's gotta do."

5. A Small Good Thing (Raymond Carver)

A woman orders a cake for her son's birthday but he's killed. The baker telephones the woman and they argue both not realising that this fact has never been stated. Breaks your heart and an absolutely beautiful ending. A great story to study for its craft

6. Cathedral (Carver)

A man is jealous when his wife's blind friend comes to stay. But then carver inverts everything. Really disturbed me, this one.

How about yours? It would be great to genuinely discuss some very good shorts

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