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Two of my favourite short stories

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant Okay, this was suggested in another thread. As I have written elsewhere, and repeat gladly here, short stories are the three minute singles of the literary world and anyone who has been pasted to the wall by the furious power of 19th Nervous Breakdown or the limpid beauty of Waterloo Sunset and yet hasn't managed to keep awake during an entire Stones or Kinks album will know what I mean. A great short story has a pungency and a pure serendipity. Having grown up with science fiction, which is essentially a short story genre no matter what the bookshops heaving with three-volume series may imply, I remained a low-level short story addict, but it's a lonely obsession since while you can chat about novels with your pals, short stories fly under most readers' radar. Okay, so now we can chat about short stories!
I will kick off with two: "I Want to Live!" by Thom Jones, not Tom Jones, who is too busy singing to write a searing close-up account of the last year in the life of a woman with cancer. Cheerful topic? I don't think so. Brilliant powerful writing? I think so. Number two is "The Fireman's Wife" by Richard Bausch, in which a woman is marvelling over the admirable and even heroic qualities of her husband whilst slowly coming to the realisation that she really is going to leave him. Cheerful topic? I don't think so. Brilliant powerful writing? I think so.

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ingenting) There are so many good ones. When I read your post, the first one that came to my mind was "Terrific Mother" by Lorrie Moore. I love her short stories.

Also - another often anthologized story - "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates.

message 3: by Kim (new)

Kim (kmdoubleday) "Lust" by Susan Minot

"Cathedral" by Raymond Carver

"How to be An Other Woman" by Lorrie Moore

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) I love this thread as I am a lover of the short story...Many of these I know, but not all of them (I'm going to print it out for later reference). Some of my favorites:
"Naked" by Joyce Carol Oates.
"The Life You Save May Be Your Own," Flannery O'Connor.
"The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe.
"Sonny's Blues," James Baldwin.
"The Yellow Wallpaper," CP Gilman
one could go on and on...!

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) also: "Reunion" by Cheever.
So very short and so very very good.

message 6: by Alison (new)

Alison Great question. Mine are going to be a bit obvious , as they are ones I read in school, as did most everyone, I think.

1. The Most Dangerous Game/Richard Connell
2. The Lottery/Shirley Jackson
3. The Lady, or the Tiger?/Frank R. Stockton

I don't think I've read any of those past the age of fourteen, but they left an impression.

Also, most all of Poe, Eudora Welty, O'Conner (if anyone has never read "A Good Man is Hard to Find...I agree that they must), and J.D. Salinger's "Nine Stories" to name a few.

message 7: by Jackie "the Librarian", Cool Star Trek Nerd (new)

Jackie "the Librarian" | 1818 comments Mod
Revelations in Black by Carl Jacobi
Dust Rag by Hal Clement

message 8: by Paul (last edited Mar 25, 2008 04:11AM) (new)

Paul Bryant More of my faves

In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried : Amy Hempel
Snow : John Crowley
Snow : Ann Beattie
Pie Dance : Molly Giles
In the Hills, the Cities : Clive Barker
Friends at Evening : Andrew Holleran
R&R : Lucius Shepherd
A Trip to Grand Rapids : Garrison Keillor
Darlene Makes a Move : Garrison Keillor
River of Names : Dorothy Allison
Boxes : Raymond Carver
Whoever was using this Bed : Raymond Carver
Lights in the Valley : Andrew Holleran
The Balloon : Donald Barthelme
A Two Timer : David Masson
The Squirrel Cage : Thomas M Disch
Day Million : Frederick Pohl

message 9: by Valerie (new)

Valerie "Haunted" by Joyce Carol Oates

shellyindallas where do you find all these? do you have to buy collections from the authors?

message 11: by Sheila (last edited Mar 25, 2008 07:13AM) (new)

Sheila Hey Alison. Thanks for bringing these up - the oldies but goodies. I was just sitting here, baffled, because I usually don't read short stories. Nothing was coming to mind.

But I read The Lottery in high school and loved it, and I read The Most Dangerous Game and liked that one too.

Another one - The Yellow Wallpaper.

Actually what am I saying... my last books were Murakami's After The Quake, which is a short story collection and The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. They were all mindbenders, actually.

I guess there's just too many good ones for me to narrow down favorites.

message 12: by Paul (last edited Mar 25, 2008 07:36AM) (new)

Paul Bryant You find them in books like this

- there are many collections along these lines. They turn up on Amazon and in your local 2nd hand bookshop for rock bottom prices all the time.

message 13: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Shelly - I actually posted a book of short stories instead of individual story titles (oops). I think a few other people did, too.

message 14: by Meels (last edited Mar 25, 2008 08:39AM) (new)

Meels (amelia) So, tell me...when does a short story become a novella? I never took lit, only comp. So, I know I sound stupid, but educate me!!!

Hoping that the first is in fact a short story and not a novella:

Master and Man - Leo Tolstoy

Legia - Edgar Allen Poe

message 15: by Xio (last edited Mar 25, 2008 09:02AM) (new)

Xio (xioj) | 40 comments Poe's 'The Imp of Perversion' needs to be mentioned not because it is all that great a tale (it is rather formulaic for him) but because its psychology is spot on.

And, people! 'The Open Boat' by Stephen Crane knocks me flat every single time I read it.

(yeah, I'm back. Wanna make something of that?)

message 16: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) I spelled it wrong...damn, I knew I would. I googled it though, and it came up! Bastards!! It is by far my favorite Poe...but I too love most all of his work.

So, I have to count the words in Master And Man? That sucks! I'll get right on that...

message 17: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant Yes, we need the individual story titles, not the titles of the collections, please - I intend to hunt them all down!

For Poe, what about "The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar" ? - wow - brilliantly creepy - all about an experiment where they hypnotise a guy on the point of death.

message 18: by Jessica (last edited Mar 25, 2008 09:56AM) (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) Paul:
don't you think JK Rowling took Voldemort from Poe's Valdemar story?? haven't read that one, I will! Love Ligea too (however you spell it)!

message 19: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Thanks Jess...:)

message 20: by Alison (last edited Mar 25, 2008 12:53PM) (new)

Alison O.K., Sheila...I've never heard of "The Yellow Wallpaper", but I just looked it up, and I'll have to try to read it now. It looks good!

Not sure if anyone mentioned "The Pit and the Pendulem" by's a great story, but the movie with Vincent Price (which is totally different than the story)...I watched it with my dad when I was about 7. Not quite sure why he let me watch that one. (Scary stuff).

Also, "The Purloined Letter"...

message 21: by Jackie "the Librarian", Cool Star Trek Nerd (new)

Jackie "the Librarian" | 1818 comments Mod
Oooh, I love all the great Poe stories. The Black Cat, Masque of the Red Death, Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum...
Speaking of which, I do love the Vincent Price movie version. Price was so good at hysterics!

message 22: by Inky (new)

Inky | 41 comments I love "The Ransom of Red Chief" by American short story master O'Henry.

And "Boule de Suif" is my favorite example of what a perfect short story is. Guy De Maupassant rocks the form.

And I can't overlook Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

I guess I have a soft spot for the classics.

message 23: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Borges' short stories are amazing.

I'd comment on others' posts but I'm way late to this party, as I've been out of town, and I would possibly leave the longest post in goodreads history:)

message 24: by J (new)

J You could write a long post and make it a short story!

message 25: by Daniel (last edited Mar 26, 2008 07:04AM) (new)

Daniel (danielt) | 9 comments A lot of people have mentioned heavily anthologized stories, but I don't think anyone has mentioned these yet (forgive me if I missed them). They fall into that category, and are great:

"The Swimmer," by John Cheever
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," Raymond Carver
"A&P," by John Updike

Oh, and one more that I haven't seen anthologized much, but is creepy, disturbing and definitely worth reading:

"In the Penal Colony," by Franz Kafka

message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant I could chuck in every other story Raymond Carver wrote. In the Penal Colony is great. As is Borges. My favourites of him are

Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
The Lottery in Babylon
Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote
The Library of Babel
Funes the Memorious
The Zahir

Also a big fave is The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean, an SF story from 1952 in which she invents pyramid selling.

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