what stories do you like? and what are you doing thursday?

First! I'm very interested in short stories (really? you gasp) and as I'm going to be doing a spot of guest-editing for the National Short Story Week website in March, I've been thinking about what makes a good story and what are great examples of the form. Now, I haven't reached any big conclusion, so don't ask - but what I am doing is making notes of brilliant collections, individual stories, great writers of the same, interesting anthologies and so on. So it was kind of handy that I got an email the other day from a nice lady who's made up just such a list. So I know it's a pretty generic and open-ended question, but I wanted to open it up to the floor: what are your favourite short stories? Do you agree with the list above? What collections or anthologies would you rave about? What do you insist your students read? What do your teachers insist you read? What story would you photocopy and paste on lamp-posts and telephone poles all over the country? What's your favourite obscure find? Comments below, please!

Second! This is for Manchester peeps; are you free Thursday night? If so, come to the opening of this art exhibition: BlankExpression 2011. It's a group show to celebrate the opening of a new gallery, BlankSpace, which has taken over the premises of the old EasaHQ building, and my boyfriend (Andy Broadey) is one of the participating artists. Go look at his work - it's ace. There's even nudity in it. And he tells me there'll be free booze at the opening. 6pm until 9pm - if you're not there, I'll tut loudly in deep disapproval.


Jamie said...

collection I constantly go back to is Burned Children of America- Zadie Smith's intro to it is ace, too.

dan powell said...

The short story that always overwhelms me with its brilliance, simplicity and sheer emotional power is 'Misery' by Anton Chekhov ('called 'Grief' in the superb Rosamund Bartlett translation) - Iona Potapov's struggle to find someone who will listen to his sadness breaks this reader's heart every time.

I am currently working my way through Lydia Davis' collected stories and already I would rate her work as essential reading for anyone looking to get a handle on the contemporary short story.

'Marzipan' by Amy Bender also immediately springs to mind as probably the most perfect slice of magical realism I have read in the short form. Just brilliantly inventive and wonderfully affecting.

And Amy Hempel should be read byr those requiring a lesson in how to build image upon image until the weight of what is happening presses down on the reader's chest and leaves them gasping for air.

Downith said...

Olive Kitteridge was brilliant and I love Alice Munro.

The "nice lady's" list looks interesting .


Valerie O'Riordan said...

Thanks, guys - excellent recommendations all round!

Dan - I've had my eye on that Lydia Davis collection...might just have to check it out, now.

Anonymous said...

What a very interesting blog.
I do not know if it is the form to leave a comment when we haven't been introduced. I am not very blogaware I'm afraid.
I did read the list mentioned and I'm surprised that Dahl is near the end. I always find his short stories the epitome of the form which I always compare to bonne bouches.

My favourite is 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and take every opportunity to read it to my classes who delight in it's humourous light macabre.

Juliet said...

I was very taken, recently, by Ali Smith's 'Writ' in The First Person. I love Ali Smith anyway but that particular one was just brilliant.

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Hi Minty, and welcome! Glad you like the blog. I like Dahl, too - nothing like some macabre in the mornings!

Juliet - I haven't read that one, I'll check it out. I do love Ali!