All Time Favorite Short Story
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You know, for me I think it may have been two authors I don't actually spend that much time reading any more but that I loved passionately as a pre-teen: Maupassant and Washington Irving. Maupassant was probably the first "French" author I came across (besides Verne). I spent Sundays with my great-aunt during my childhood and she had (among many other wonderful books) a lovely, illustrated edition of Bel Ami and various selected short stories by Maupassant. I remember my ten year-old self feeling very grown up reading that book. Irving I discovered considerably earlier, around the age of seven or eight. My local library had a late 19th century edition of his complete works and I read my way through them. I particularly enjoyed the stories that had a supernatural bent and these prepared me for the much greater pleasures of Poe and Hawthorne a few years later (Rappaccini's Daughter knocked me for a loop-the premise haunted me for years after reading it).
By the time I reached the Russians and English language greats like Katherine Mansfield and Henry James, I was already very familiar with the special joys of the short form.
'The Jilting of Granny Weatherall' by Katherine Anne Porter is my favorite short story. Read it if you haven't already. It's genius, and its short, essentialized form demonstrates so well the power and necessity of the short story.
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson is my all time favorite short story. I read it in High School and I re-read it now and then....and I think I'm due.
My favorite short-story of all-time is "You're Ugly, Too," by Lorrie Moore. Hands down, she's perfected the art and essence of short-story writing.
"The Hunger Artist" by Kafka, "A Real Doll" by A.M. Homes, "How to Become a Writer" by Lorrie Moore, "a Mown Lawn" by Lydia Davis (a great example of microfiction)...
I just realized you only asked for one. See, this is why I can't post before coffee. There are too many to narrow it down to just one, but "The Hunger Artist" definitely takes first place.
I love "100% Perfect Girl"! In fact, I read that story to my husband while he was driving our family to the beach this past summer.
My favorite short story is also from the same book, The Elephant Vanishes. It is "A Family Affair".
My daughter's favorite short story is *also* from that same book. It's the story entitled "The Green Monster".
It's so very hard to pick a favorite short story. It's almost unfair because there are simply too many that are just fabulous. I was not going to post at all on this thread until I read your response, marco-nj! :-) I just love Murakami's writing...especially his short stories. My daughter took this book after I finished reading it to keep for her *own* personal collection!
There were two short stories that kicked my love of the short form into high-gear (and towards realizing that it is a literary art form unto itself) and which are dear to me:
"The Use of Force" by William Carlos Williams
"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula LeGuin
These stories had a very visceral effect on me---they just lingered and lingered and then lingered some more in my mind.
And since it's always so hard for book geeks to make definitive or declaritive "best" or "favorite" choices I'll greedily add that I have very fond memories of the first time I read "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemmingway too.
I'm glad to see this Group getting active again. Last year, friendlybasilisk identified for me a story that I'd read back in 1953, and convinced me that LT really is "six kinds of wonderful."
A thick hardcover collection of best international short stories come into our house when I was 9, and introduced me to the joys and potential perfections of the short form. A novelist has virtually unlimited pages in which to develop a setting, characters, a plot. The ability to do it in a short story seems to me to be an incredible, and perhaps superior talent. (The ability to do it in a short poem, such as "My Last Duchess," seems to me to be flat miraculous.)
Darn it, coffeezombie, you know that there is no way to pick 1 or even 11 or 111. :-) I'll just try naming a favorite that is less well known. "Turn About," by William Faulkner, is a gripping WWI aviation/naval story set in France --- about as far from Yoknapatawpha County in all ways as you can get. :-)
#5 The Lottery for me too! It has stayed with me since high school as well. Obviously high school English programs were doing something right.
Also, another Shirley Jackson: Charlie.
One more that I always remember For Esme with Love and Squalor by Salinger.
A Few of My Faves:
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter
Separating by John Updike
Revelations by Flannery O'Connor
The Life of Death by Clive Barker
The Last Illusion by Clive Barker
just about anything by Poe
There's a few more that I'm just forgetting, come back later for them..
"Demonology" by Rick Moody from the anthology of the same name. "Isabel Fish" by Julie Orringer from How to Breathe Underwater (a fantastic book). I get on short story kicks every so often. I really like the stories in The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank, her second book not so much.
I can't think of any high-brow literary choices, embarrassingly enough, but my St. Patrick's vote goes to James Joyce's Dubliners. Absolute perfection.
A few of mine, which I'm sure I've mentioned in this group before: "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce; "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood; "Hitman" by T.C. Boyle; "The School" by Donald Barthelme; so on, so forth.
A few response:
myshelves: A lot of the groups I started lapsed over the past few months. It probably didn't help that I had a little accident involving my ankle, an icy parking lot and gravity that took up some of my time back in December and I'm only now getting back in the internet groove, so I haven't been doing much to incite a lot of discussion.
pesserj: I actually didn't read "The Lottery" until college, and I did it on my own time. My high school English program was somewhat of a joke, so I had to really catch up latter in life. I agree though, it's a classic.
SaraDC: Not a big fan of that particular Rick Moody collection, though I agree with you about that story, as well as a few others in that book ("Boys" comes to mind). I'm with you on Dubliners; a classic through and through.
I'm with whoever picked Lorrie Moore as a master of the craft, but for me "Brokeback Mountain," from Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx was the most moving story I ever read. It taught me the power that could be wielded by that form. I read it in the New Yorker when it was first published, and still remember how I could have missed it-- I had started reading it, and the magazine was folded open to the second page of the story in my bathroom for weeks, until I finally got back to it-- had forgotten it, in fact-- and just got swept up in it to the finish. I have avoided the movie, because I don't want to ruin the story.
Ouch! Broken? I had one of those little accidents 6 years ago, and still shudder at the memory. You have my sympathy.
I started to read short stories because I wanted to read everything I could by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and other SF writers. Once I did I found that I usually enjoyed the short stories more than novels, so I continued to look for short story collections eventually expanding beyond SF. My favorite short story is “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus” by Frederik Pohl, which I read in The Best of Frederik Pohl. The story is a simple one of the commercialization of Christmas, love and one man’s redemption.
It's been decades since I read it, but I fondly recall "The Ransom Of Red Chief" by O. Henry. Hilarious!
I just finished Flannery O'Connor's COMPLETE STORIES collection last week and almost fell over after reading the stories (besides the obvious ones), "Good Country People," "Parker's Back," and "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." Talk about a ferociously funny and deeply imaginative short story writer!
My favourite collection is probably The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh but I probably couldn't name an absolute favourite single short story.
Its such a fascintating medium I always impressed which authors who write excellant novels can or can't write short stories.
"The colour out of space" by H.P. Lovecraft has always stuck with me.
Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory - Buddy, Miss Sook and Queenie, - I think it is exquisite and read it every year at the holidays.
Enthusiastic agreement on "The Lottery." One of my sentimental favorites is "The Gift of the Magi." Also enjoy O'Connor and TC Boyle. But my overall favorite for short stories is Gene Wolfe. I think my favorite of his collections is The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (the title story is "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" and is one of my very favorites), but all of his colections are excellent.
#30 gmork: Is The Most Dangerous Game about a man who is being hunted?
I'm right there with you regarding The Island of Doctor Death... -- it was the first book recommended to me when I began working in NYC almost 30 years ago. It was absolutely great having a minimum of 2 hours a day where all I could do was sit (or stand) and read.
Favorite short story -- Exchange by Ray Bradbury
I first read it when I was a young teenager. I think it was in a book of Nebula Award winners.
Now, about 45 years later, it happened to be in a book whose common thread was 'short stories about Libraries or Librarians'. It's called In the Stacks, edited by Michael Cart. It's a wonderful story, especially the second time around.
Most of the rest of the stories in that book are hardly worth mentioning, but I'm glad I got it -- partly for the Bradbury story, and partly because of The Generals in the Library -- can't think of the author's name at the moment....
One of my most favorite collections is Eudora Welty's
The Golden Apples.
A Rose for Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny. A good read that was even better in a late 70's/early 80's reading by Zelazny on NPR.
How can a thread on "Favorite Short stories" not mention Alice Munro? She has several collections of prize-winning stories, her latest is The View from Castle Rock If you love to read short stories, try some by Alice Munro (who I think is Canada's greatest woman author)
I have so many fave short stories, but several stand out.
The Scapegoat by CJ Cherryh is one. It absolutely blew me out of the water.
"The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, hands down my favorite work of literature...
This list is more like the index for an imaginary anthology that I would create to carry with me when I have no other book:
The Dead by James Joyce
The Lady with the Dog and The Darling by Checkov
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Tolstoy
Everything that rises must converge by Flannery O'Connor
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William Gass
Why I live at the P.O by Eudora Welty
The killers by Ernest hemingway
The Rockinghorse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olson
In Greenwich there are many gravelled walks by Hortense Calisher
Big Blonde by Dorothy Parker
The Necklace by Maupassant
Traces by Ida Fink
Little Disturbances of Man by grace Paley
anything by Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer
Cabal by Clive Barker
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Rockinghorse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
Revelations by Flannery O'Connor
I am so so heartbroken that I can't find The Dark Descent. I never even got to start it. That's what you get when your To-Be-Read pile is humongus. :(
The Hill Bachelors by William Trevor is a collection of short stories that contains some of the most subtle and elegant writing I've read in years.
Benedict Kiely is another outstanding short story writer.
I see so many on this list that I have loved. In addition to what's already been mentioned, some of my favorites have included:
By the Waters of Babylon, Stephen Vincent Benét
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, James Thurber
The Laugher by Heinrich Böll
Almost everything by Isak Dinesen
Almost everything by Julio Cortázar
A published short story writer myself ("Months and Seasons" and "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea," I'm new to Library Thing and pleased to see this group. Some of my favorite stories include "Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff, "Lust" by Susan Minot, "Carnal Knowledge" by TC Boyle, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" by Delmore Schwartz, "A Small Good Thing" by Raymond Carver, any number of Lorrie Moore stories including "Canonical Babbling," and all the stories in "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien.
its interesting that no one ever mentions Road Dahl, the collection of his complete short stories has some amazing pieces in there, a few of my favourites are:
Vengeance is mine Inc.
The Great Automatic Grammatizator
I think most people believe that he only every wrote childrens fiction, whereas he actually wrote lots of short stories for adult audiences. In my book, Dahl had a much better grasp of the short story form than Checkov or Chandler (the two authors that people who like short stories always name check)
I have the The Best of Roald Dahl in my library, but haven't read it. October might be a good month for this.
The two that immediately come to mind are:
The Gift of the Magi by O Henry
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton - favorite of all time because I love the ironies
I also love all of J.D. Salinger's short stories, especially about the Glass family.
I was surprised to see I am the first member to have added Nice Big American Baby, by Judy Budnitz, to my library. Her story Visitors is a great example of how Budnitz creates an odd mixture of dark humor and tension.
I'm so glad I found this group! I'm trying to find the best short stories: I'm not hugely familiar with the genre so I'm going to take it one author at a time! Thanks for all the recommendations.
Rigth now, I have to say I loved The Student by Chekhov. I loved that! But I also loved a number of Maupassant's stories. I have a lot more to read before I can give my favorite story of all time!
My favorites are The Devil and Daniel Webster by Benet, which I re-read every so often and Oil of Dog and An Imperfect Conflagration, both by Ambrose Bierce.
One of my favorites as a little tyke was Leningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson. It's an action story about a guy defending his ranch from a massive swarm of ants.
An often-overlooked gem I loved in college is The Ledge by Lawrence Sargent Hall. Still one of the best short tragedies I've read.
These days I have trouble whittling the list down to a dozen, let alone one. But any list would include:
Nikolai Gogol - The Nose
Anthony Doerr - The Shell Collector
T.C. Boyle - Sorry Fugu
Irwin Shaw - The Girls in Their Summer Dresses
John Cheever - The Swimmer
1.Steinbeck (Johnny Bear) ,
2.Arthur C. Clarke (The Nine Billion Names of God)
4.Joyce Carol Oates
5.Mark Twain (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County)
6.Sherwood Anderson (Unlighted Lamps) and (Death in the Woods)
7.Djuna Barnes (Nightwood)
8.John Cheever (Goodbye, My Brother)
9.John Updike "Your Lover Just Called" and (Lifeguard)10.Ring Lardner (Some Like Them Cold) and(The Golden Honeymoon)
11.Irwin S. Cobb (Snake Doctor)
12.Louis Bromfield (The Scarlet Woman)
13.Jonathem Lethem(The Fortress of Solitude)
14.Ruth Reichl("The Queen of Mold')
15.J.P. Donleavy(The Saddest Summer of Samuel S)and (The Beastly Beatitude of Balthasar B)
16.Dan Chaon (Big Me)
17.William Gay (The Paperhanger)
18.George Saunders (Bohemians)
19.Dennis Lehane(Until Gwen)
20.Nikolai Gogol (The Diary of a Madman)
21.William Carlos Williams (The Use of Force)
22.Dylan Thomas (Patricia,Edith,and Arnold)
23.Bret Harte (The Iliad of Sandy Bar)
24.Katherine Anne Porter(The Idiots)
25.Tom Mcafee(This is My Living Room)
26.Guy De Maupassant(The Diary of a Madman)and(Love's Awakening)and(The Farmer's
27.Tennessee Williams(The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin
29.Alice Elliott Dark(In the Gloaming)
30.Alexander Godin (My Dead Brother Comes to America)
31.Evelyn Waugh (Mr. Loveday's Little Outing)
32.Eudora Welty (The Hitch-Hikers)
33.Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Miss Forbes's Summer
34.Isabel Allende (An Act of Vengence)
35.Louis -Ferdinand Celine (Journey To the End of Night)
36.Wendall Berry A Jonquil for Mary Penn and(all his others)
37.Barry Hannah (Nicodemus Bluff)
38.Nanci Kincaid (Pretending the Bed was a Raft)39.James Lee Burke (The Convict)
40.Luke Whisnant (Across from the Motoheads)
41.Mary Hood (After Moore)
42Rick Bass (The Watch)
43.Larry Brown (Facing the Music)
44.Paula Sharp (Hot Springs)
45.Bob Shacochis (Les Femmes Creole)
46.Lee Smith (Intensive Care)and (The Bubba Stories)
47.Dan Leone (Spinach)
48.Julio Cortazar (We love Glenda so much and A Change of Light)
49.Wythe Williams (Splendid with Swords)
White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky is one of my new favorite short stories.
I love so many that I can't pick a favorite. Its easier to list favorite writers instead: Richard Ford, Alice Munro, E.M. Forster, John Cheever, Katherine Mansfield; Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad are a few that spring to mind.
One of the short stories I remember reading at an early age that had a powerful effect on me was "Flying a Red Kite" by Hugh Hood. All you CanLit fans and students will probably recognize it. As I do with most of the books that I loved at an early age, I revisit it from time to time and I still find it moving.
Tolstoy's short stories are my favorite. And O. Henry's Gift of the Magi is great romance story..
Short stories for busy people, or to keep you busy during your travelling journeys by bus,train,taxi and plane from point A to point B. I love suspense and mystery.Try Roald Dahl, Jeffrey Archer, made for Tv Alfred Hitchcock stories of suspense.
Rick Bass is a great short story writer and "Wild Horses" is one of his best.
Oh and one of my all time favorites. Maybe #1 on my list:
Ray Bradbury - "Frost and Fire"
The first Raymond Carver short story i ever read was 'Why Don't You Dance'. The first line smacked me in the face like i've never been smacked in the face before. It goes something like 'He poured a drink and looked at the bedroom suite in his front yard'. I was hooked. It made me realise the impact short stories can have, the refined language that can be in many ways like poetry.
Since then i've gone on to read short stories from many different writers like Salinger, Hemingway and Gogol. I think short stories are vital to the literary world, allowing us to discover beauty, intelligence and all kind of other things in a short form which can be more accessible than poetry and less of a trek than reading a novel.
I will never forget my introduction into the short form though. Carver's work will always have my heart.
Not the first I ever read and maybe not even the best but I'm still haunted by The Playground by Ray Bradbury (can't remember which collection it's in) and The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs. More recent faves include anything by Michel Faber and Robert Shearman. Stephen King's Survivor Type cracked me up in a sinister way too.
Hard to say.
"For Esmé with Love and Squalor" by Salinger
"The Somewhere Doors" by Fred Chappell
"Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville
The Gift of The Magi , a short story wrote by O Henry is my most favorite short story I ever read,
As Christmas season is approaching in less than four months time, this story is about the magic of gift-giving. There is an outline of the story in the internet, just type, " The Gift of the Magi".
saw a few of my favorites here: especially 'sorry fugu' by t.c. boyle ... some of mine:
The Naked Lady by Madison Smartt Bell from his collection Zero db ... the title story is also great.
Everything That's Beautiful is Far Away by Richard Lange from his collection Dead Boys
The one that did it for me, that introduced me to the form, was in an anthology. It's called Haircut by Ring Lardner
also The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville and, as as already been mentioned, Flannery O'Connor, especially the title story of her collection Everything That Rises Must Converge
I could go on ....
I'm also an admirer of Bartleby and Everything Rises...
I've read some de Maupassant but no Lardner, so I'll be looking for that story.
you're going to love it.
Hard to think of a definitive 'favourite' as such, but I've skimmed through this fine thread and - apologies if I missed it - but I'm amazed to see that nobody has listed Jack London's To Build A Fire! London was a great short story writer and I reckon TBAF is as close to perfect as you could hope to find.
I'll definitely be back to this thread for more TBR mountain mining.
"The first Raymond Carver short story i ever read was 'Why Don't You Dance'. The first line smacked me in the face like i've never been smacked in the face before. It goes something like 'He poured a drink and looked at the bedroom suite in his front yard'. I was hooked. It made me realise the impact short stories can have, the refined language that can be in many ways like poetry. "
Yep, killer story. Carver is amazing!
To Build A Fire creates a tremendous feeling of frustration and despair.
Just found this group and thread. Tonight I finished reading the volume, The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. There were many great ones, some already mentioned here, but the story I'd never read before that really amazed me was "Fathers and Sons."
One of my very favorites, not mentioned in this thread, or if so I missed it, is Philip Roth's "Defender of the Faith."
Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" would be on my short list.
I'd have to look through my Chekhov collections again to decide which of his to include, he wrote so many great ones.
I can't think of the title right now, but the Faulkner story about the little boy trying to follow his brother to war is wonderful.
And as already mentioned here, Salinger's "For Esme with Love and Squalor" would make my list, as well.
Finally, somebody here mentioned Isaac Singer. Put me down for some of that, too.
These are just the few that come to mind off the top of my head.
Nice choices Jerry! I'd like to second Bashevis Singer as a master of the art.
The Nobel committee didn't single out a particular short story, but they did award one short story author, Alice Munro, the Nobel prize for literature today, actually citing her as a master of the contemporary short story
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