Short Story lovers discussion

All-time favorites

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message 1: by David (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

David | 29 comments Mod
Who are the short story writers you've loved the most over the years? For me, Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway rise to the top -- they get so much done in so few words, with seemingly so little effort. Stuart Dybek is also a favorite, maybe because of the way he embraces the grit of Chicago, finds the beauty there. Who have you all loved?

message 2: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Kay | 3 comments My list looks very different:

William Trevor - concision, celtic irony and masterful dialogue
Scott Fitzgerald - everything he wrote was really a short story, he was a master of the art and his Ice Palace is a story that haunts me
Guy de Maupassant - to whom I return again and again, I always think I've exhausted his stories and come back to them to find some new aspect that I'd completely overlooked
Alice Munro - complex understated prose with human scale storylines and simple observations that lay bare the truth of relationships.

message 3: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Rob McMonigal | 4 comments For me, it's Ray Bradbury, hands down, especially since brevity is so rare in genre fiction.


message 4: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 4 comments I have a difficult time choosing favorites.

I'm with Kay in choosing William Trevor and Guy de Maupassant. In addition, William Maxwell and Mavis Gallant were great finds for me several years ago.

Garcia Marquez, Stephen King and Tim O'Brien are also at the top of my list.

I'll stop here. So many stories........ya'll know the rest!

message 5: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 4 comments oooooooopps....Did I forget to mention Dorothy Parker?

message 6: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Kay | 3 comments Oh yes, Bradbury - what a wonderful writer!

message 7: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Carol | 13 comments I read and reread Bradbury as a kid and teen--I should pull out the books again, as it's been a long time.

How about O. Henry? And J. D Salinger, too, for me. Flannery O' Connor. Also, I worship Lorrie Moore. "People Like That Are The Only People Here"--holy shit, that's a story. I read the story several times after my daughter started having chronic health problems, and I think about it often. You can read it here (scroll down):

message 8: by Myfanwy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Myfanwy | 2 comments I will come back and add more but to start:

Mary Robison (Tell Me)
Joy Williams (Honored Guest)
Ann Beattie (pretty much all of hers)
James Joyce (Dubliners--my favorite being "The Dead" which was the most beautiful final paragraph in all of storydom as far as I am concerned)
William Trevor
Alice Munro
Also, Richard Ford for Rock Springs
Charles Baxter for Through the Safety Net
Junot Diaz for Drown

message 9: by Katy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Katy | 2 comments Hemingway is the master in my book. "Hills Like White Elephants" is my favorite. The way so much is said in so few words. It feels like sitting a t the next table overhearing a conversation. He doesn't push the reader to get his point. It's just there, simple, and subtle.

message 10: by Elinor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Elinor | 2 comments My list is probably too inclusive, but I'm dreadful at picking favorites:

Katherine Anne Porter
A.S. Byatt
Ambrose Bierce (Civil War Stories, especially)
Kate Chopin
Dorothy Parker
Annie Proulx
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Ernest Hemingway
Gerald Durrell (when I just need to laugh)

message 11: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Carol | 13 comments "James Joyce (Dubliners--my favorite being "The Dead" which was the most beautiful final paragraph in all of storydom as far as I am concerned)"

I second this.

message 12: by Patti (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Patti | 6 comments I like Raymond Carver, Thom Jones, Kipling and Somerset Maugham, Larry Brown, and, as always, anything by Paul Bowles.

message 13: by Danna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:56PM) (new)

Danna | 2 comments Off the top of my head:

The End of Firpo in the World - George Saunders
The Dead - James Joyce
Cavemen in the Hedges - Stacey Richter
Curly Red - Joyce Carol Oates
A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Conner
Prints - Amanda Davis
Samuel Johnson is Indignant - Lydia Davis
Screenwriter & Her Real Name - Charles D'Ambrosio

message 14: by Sherry (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Sherry | 1 comments A Clean Well-Lighted Place by Hemingway

message 15: by Joel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

message 16: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 6 comments Ring Lardner is definitely my favorite -- his work is brilliant and as I've said elsewhere, he had an amazing ear for crackerjack dialogue. He's also laugh-out-loud funny a lot of the time.

Jim Shepard runs a very close second for me -- he writes in so many different voices and styles, and does all of them well. He just got a well-deserved National Book Award nomination for his latest collection, "Like You'd Understand Anyway."

Truman Capote also wrote a couple of amazing short stories, particularly "My Side of the Matter," which unfortunately isn't anthologized much anymore, probably because it makes free use of the word "nigger." Still, I don't think you'll see a more well-drawn portrayal of a person in so short a page-span.

message 17: by Amie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Amie | 1 comments Wow, I guess I'm fairly all inclusive because there's not much on this list I haven't loved!

I am with David on Ernest Hemingway, Stuart Dybek, haven't read much Raymond Carver but I intend to. Mark Costello (Murphy Stories) is a favorite, Dubliners is one of my all time favorite books and I completely wholeheartedly agree with Carol about the last paragraph of "The Dead", I swear I reread that like once a month. Katherine Anne Porter, "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" chokes me up just thinking about it...Andre Dubus (sr.), gosh, I'm sure there's many many more...

message 18: by Kathy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Kathy (kathyfish) | 4 comments Here are my favorites: Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Ron Carlson, Mary Robison, Jeff Landon, Charles Baxter, Antonya Nelson, Amy Hempel, Jim Shepard, Joy Williams, Pia Ehrhardt, Frederick Barthelme, William Maxwell, Kim Chinquee, Don Chaon, Salinger and Flannery O'Connor...

message 19: by Tim (new)

Tim In literary fiction: some of the great Russian authors of short fiction -

Anton Chekhov
Mikhail Lermontov
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Tatiana Tolstaia

and a few others, from various parts of the globe:

Alice Munro
Guy de Maupassant
Owen Marshall

In science fiction:

Gene Wolfe
Ursula Le Guin
Arthur C. Clarke (the early stories collected in "Expedition to Earth")

but the #1 for me, straddling nearly all genres, is:

Jorge Luis Borges

message 20: by jennifer (new)

jennifer (mascarawand) | 51 comments I'm a big fan of Flannery O'Connor and Ambrose Bierce ("Oil of Dog" never stops being funny). For my tastes, "The Devil and Daniel Webster" by Stephen Vincent Benet is perfection. I love creepy New England tales.

message 21: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Me, too, about Flannery O'Connor and especially because for me she lived just 'up the road a piece' where she dreamed up all those marvelous characters. - and I bet you also like Holmes's 'The Deacon's Masterpiece' or as it's better known 'The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay' Always been my favorite and the way I want to go.

message 22: by jennifer (new)

jennifer (mascarawand) | 51 comments Nope, never heard of it. Is it in a collection?

message 23: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Oliver Wendell Holmes, Writer, Harvard Professor, Supreme Court Chief Justice, died 1935 -- It's in most collections of American Poetry - I did a search and found it at
-- in fact, found not only the poem but some history, explanations of some of the vernacular, etc. Let me know if you find it fun to read and ponder. What a concept! And horrors, it uses rhyming words.

message 24: by jennifer (new)

jennifer (mascarawand) | 51 comments Thanks for searching that out, Chris, it did have the old New England flavor I like. Sort of a colonial sound.

message 25: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy (jimmylorunning) | 17 comments My favorite is Chekhov. Read the short story called "Enemies" in the book The Essential Tales of Chekhov. Most of his stories are more subtle than that one, but that's a great place to start and will really give you a sense of the devastating power of his stories.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Tim wrote: "In literary fiction: some of the great Russian authors of short fiction -

Anton Chekhov
Mikhail Lermontov
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Tatiana Tolstaia

and a few others, from various parts of the globe:


Borges, yeah. The last paragraph of the story in which the narrator is given Shakespeare's mind. Bach.

message 27: by Scott (new)

Scott E If I had to pick one (Thank God I don't!), I'd choose Richard Ford.

However, I'm a big fan of others, including: Tobias Wolff, Rick Moody, Ann Beattie, Antonya Nelson, Thom Jones, Larry Brown, TC Boyle.

message 28: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Holborn (hannahholborn) | 2 comments I am a passionate re-reader of "Some Rain Must Fall" by Michel Faber, and "St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves".

Others writers whose short stories I love/admire Lorrie Moore, Flannery O'Connor, T.C. Boyle and for the inocent silliness of his stories Patrick McManus!

message 29: by Katherine (new)

Katherine I won't mention all the obvious ones that have been honoured in this thread and whom I also adore (Carver! Monro!), but how about Margaret Atwood(especially the story "Rape Fantasies" or her collection called "Wilderness Tips"), Jincy Willet and Carol Shields?

message 30: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Anyone familiar with Robert Olen Butler? Someone raved about him to me, so I read a couple of stories on line. They were both about feet ?? and I wasn't impressed. Then he had a session at a writer's conference in SC. I didn't go. Instead I went to his wife's session on poetry. More raving about him by participants, so I read a couple more stories (Fair Warning - won a prize) In fact he's won grants, the Guggenheim, etc. Just wondering what some of you think.

message 31: by Scott (new)

Scott E I like Robert Olen Butler. His Good Scent from a Strange Mountain is a highly regarded collection. I've read three or four from that book and liked them quite a lot. I also like a few of the stories from Tabloid Dreams. I recently came across an earlier book of his called On Distant Ground, a novel about the Vietnam War...haven't read it yet, but am anxious to. Alot of his subject matter regards the Vietnam War.

message 32: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Scott. I will get On Distant Ground and the others, too. I love being a convert. I recently read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I had always heard of it as an example of a 'list' short story, but it's a book of stories, some long, some short -- with the same characters. Also Vietnam, and fascinating.

message 33: by Scott (new)

Scott E I like Tim O'Brien too. Have read In The Lake Of The Woods, and am looking forward to two of his "Vietnam War" books, If I Die In A Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, and Going After Cacciato. Haven't read any short stories by hime, though.

message 34: by Scott (new)

Scott E All this talk about Vietnam War....I wonder if anyone is familiar with other short story writers who dealt with the war (other than Robert Olen Butler)??

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah St Lucy's Home For Girls Raised by Wolves! I loved it but had to order it online... I live in Canada (in a major city) and couldn't find it distributed anywhere. Her newer work (in Best American Stories) is amazing too.

Hannah wrote: "I am a passionate re-reader of "Some Rain Must Fall" by Michel Faber, and "St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves".

Others writers whose short stories I love/admire Lorrie Moore, Flannery O'..."

message 36: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 171 comments This is a fun discussion--I get to cheer or boo at everyone's posts. Joyce, "The Dead": absolutely. A perfect story. O'Connor too; I just taught "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" this week for the 3rd or fourth time, and I now think it's better, quite a bit better, than "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Chekhov's "The Lady with the Dog" is perfect. To put in my two cents on R.O. Butler, I like the collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, but not all of it holds up to a second reading--a lot of Butler doesn't. At the risk of sounding condescending, I'm "over" Carver and Hemingway; they were both college enthusiasms, but I now find them both precious and pretentious. As for O'Brien, the title story of "The Things They Carried" is unfortunately the only thing in that collection worth reading twice. Hate T.C. Boyle. Love Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King." Enough from me.

message 37: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 171 comments Two more: Donald Barthelme (City Life) and Ben Marcus (The Age of Wire and String).

message 38: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Peter Orner's The Raft. It was available online at one point. Great read.

message 39: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Geoff wrote: "Two more: Donald Barthelme (City Life) and Ben Marcus (The Age of Wire and String)."
Booing or cheering?

message 40: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 171 comments Sorry; I was piggy-backing on my earlier post, being too elliptical. Cheering. And you?

message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris Antenen | 139 comments Haven't read them. Will.

message 42: by Shelby (new)

Shelby Goddard While I can certainly understand being "over" Carver--his style can get tiresome--"Cathedral" and "A Small Good Thing" are still fabulous in my book. A less popular favorite of mine that I didn't see mentioned is Amy Hempel's "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried." Heartbreaking. Tobias Wolff's "Bullet in the Brain" is a great anti-book critic story. I love all of Flannery O'Connor, but I think my favorite is "Good Country People." I can't get enough of that wooden leg. Lorrie Moore's "People Like That are the Only People Here" is probably my favorite of hers. I could babble on and on, but I'll stop. At least for now.

message 43: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Misha wrote: "I'm new to the group, and newly in love with short stories. I'm reading everything I can find. I'm leaning toward more recent writers at the moment -- Miranda July, Amy Hempel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Etgar..."

Hey, you should join The Hemingway Short Story group on Goodreads. We'll soon be discussing Nobody Ever Dies. Would love to have your impressions.

message 44: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 171 comments I just couldn't get through Cummins's 'Red Ant House.' Or, rather, I got through it, but only with a sense of duty and by laying it aside for a few days between stories until my store of good will had been refilled. She's enormously talented, but every story felt terribly mannered and calculated to achieve an effect. For me, the stories were way too conscious of themselves as art and demonstrated whatever the opposite of "negative capability" is.

message 45: by Harley (new)

Harley (harleybarb) | 26 comments Too weird -- I saw this reference to "Red Ant House" while fooling around on the computer after lunch and before getting back to reading the story (spooky music) "Red Ant House" in the Best American etc. 2002 collection.

message 46: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Wyss | 171 comments I always feel bad when I dislike a collection of stories--as if I've been grumpy and now feel remorseful--but I just kept getting mad at that collection.

message 47: by Beth (last edited Aug 22, 2009 12:56PM) (new)

Beth Diiorio (beth_diiorio) I'm surprised no one has mentioned O. Henry (oops, I stand corrected). In addition to many of the others previously mentioned in other posts, he is one of my all-time favorites! Rose, thanks for finding this group...I really like it :-)

message 48: by Rose (new)

Rose (roseo) Yes, it looks like I have a lot of reading to do. I have just learned to appreciate short stories through the recent Pulitzer winners.

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) William Trevor, Anton Chekhov, and Katherine Mansfield are my all time favorites. Also like Angela Carter, Tobias Wolff, Daphne du Maurier, Edgar Allen Poe, Alice Munro. I also like Flannery O'Conner and I love Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." I think it's a true masterpiece. I'm not generally fond of Hemingway, but "Hills Like White Elephants" is as good as a story gets. I think I like Hemingway's stories better than his novels.

With a few exceptions, such as Alice Munro and William Trevor, I'm not fond of the direction in which the short story seems to be moving today. The upper class, ennui-ridden person, who just thinks he/she has problems. I find it boring. Perhaps I'm just reading the wrong stories! LOL I don't know. I just know I like my stories full and rich.

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Rose wrote: "Yes, it looks like I have a lot of reading to do. I have just learned to appreciate short stories through the recent Pulitzer winners."

I'm looking forward to reading OLIVE KITTERIDGE. So glad it won the Pulitzer this year.

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