I love short stories. However, there’s not much money in them. Also, they take more time to write than many longer projects. It’s true! With longer books authors can vomit everything up onto the page, make a huge mess, and hope that more of it is good than bad.
Not so with short stories
Mark Twain said: If I had more time, I’d write a shorter story
When a short story wins a prize, you can usually find a theme in every paragraph, if not in every sentence. There’s a level of craftsmanship that I don’t see often in any other medium but the short story.
With that in mind, here are three of the best of the best of the best. Totally.
1. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor
O’Connor was an odd one, but wow, could she write. She’s one of those authors that graduate students love to write dissertations about. I don’t know what a lot of her stories are getting at, but they all give me chills.
Start with the title story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Equally powerful and bizarre is The Artificial Nigger. But they’re all just fantastic. Again: the word here is crafts(wo)manship. Just perfect in every way.
2. The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka
Kafka’s topics and stories make O’connor’s look positively mundane. This dude had issues. Daddy issues, mommy issues, torture issues, existential craziness, and all manner of things that made him anxious. The good news is, whatever compulsions and troubles he had resulted in some of the most unforgettable oddities of the literary universe.
My favorites are In The Penal Colony, A Country Doctor, The Great Wall Of China, and of course, The Metamorphosis. That last one is a long short story, but worth the read. It’s not every day that a young man wakes up to discover that he has turned into a cockroach.
3. The Modern Library’s Great Tales Of Terror And The Supernatural by Just About Everybody
Halloween is almost here. This collection is the best of the best. This book is gigantic and will give you great spooky stories to read for years. The Great God Pan, The Monkey’s Paw, The Most Dangerous Game…This is the who’s-who list of lots of dead people you may never have heard of. But their stories you might know.
Aristocrats hunting men for sport. An attack by a massive army of fire ants. That monkey and its crazy paw, not to mention another creepy story about a black monkey with red eyes that shows up at inconvenient times.
There is nothing I like more than sitting by the fire in the autumn and reading ghost stories. Nothing. The Modern Library’s Great Tales Of Terror is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s that good.
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