Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Next week is National Short Story Week. A few weeks ago I (somewhat mischievously) asked what the greatest story ever written was. Amid debates on parameters, subjectivity, qualification of art, relativity etc…I suspected I’d at least tease out some cracking recommendations. And so, here’s what was mentioned:

The Tell Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe

Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – Ambrose Bierce

Misery – Anton Chekhov

Araby – James Joyce

A Small, Good Thing – Raymond Carver

People Like That Are The Only People Here – Lorrie Moore

Sister Imelda - Edna O'Brien

A Painful Case – James Joyce

In Dream Begin Responsibility – Delmore Schwartz

Diary of a Madman – Nicolai Gogol

A Day Meant to Do Less – Kyle Minor

Babylon Revisited – F Scott Fitzgerald

The Dead – James Joyce

The Beast in the Jungle – Henry James

Passion – Alice Munro

I’ll add:

The Lottery – Shirley Jackson

Last Night – James Salter

The Room – William Trevor

So, I urge you, next week, in celebration of the short story, to seek out one or two of these. And of course please add your own in the comments below.


Hookline Ed said...

My favourite short story:
Mr Know All by Somerset Maugham

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks Ed. Don't know it, but will look it out. A master.

Anna-Marie said...

Someone should publish those together in one collection - "The Greatest Stories Ever Told"

federay said...

For Esme - with Love and Squalor. (JDSalinger)
Or am I just desperately sentimental?

Steph said...

The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks Steph and federay. A-M, I was just thinking that very thought.

Susannah Rickards said...

A Day Meant To Do Less by Kyle Minor. Or Babylon Revisited by Fitzgerald. Or Nobody Said Anything by Carver. Or In The Gloaming by Alice Elliott Dark. My favourite ever is the Kyle Minor. Or Sleep by Murakami or Araby or The Dead or The Rocking Horse Winner or Odour of Chrysanthemums.

Makes me just want to curl up with a stack of the best stories in the world and not emerge till spring.

Susannah Rickards said...

Oh Poltergeists by Jane Shapiro. There's an unsung genius.

Dan Holloway said...

I guess The Monkey's Paw by W W Jacobs is a really cliched choice but it was the first short story that really made me erealise what the form could do.

Surprised by the lack of Damon Runyan. Haruki Murakami's collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is more than a bit special, too. And Philip K Dick has to be worth a mention.

Two absolute masters of the form you may not have come across - Allyson Armistead - search out Blue-Eyed Ant; and Heikki Hietala, master of the slow, dank, slightly off-kilter chill

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks for all those, Dan. I love the Murakami.

I haven't read the Lawrence, Susannah, but was reading Steinbeck's 'Chrysanthemems' about the time you posted this!

This is some list we have here.

Paul said...

"The Bear" by William Faulkner is considered one of the most analyzed books in American literature. It's also about the whole American wilderness/exploitation experience.

Paul said...

... and by "book" I meant to say "short story"

Scarlett said...

My favorite short stories:
Faulkner "A Rose for Emily"
Faulkner "Dry September"
Maupassaint "The Necklace"
Baldwin "Going to Meet the Man"
Baldwin "A Summer Tragedy"
Hughes "Home"

Scarlett said...

oh, I forgot one:
Faulkner "Barn Burning"