General Question

kutelilkat's avatar

Great, short stories / literature suggestions?

Asked by kutelilkat (279points) April 7th, 2009

I’m looking for good/GREAT short stories (just a few pages in length is best but u can list longer ones if they are really amazing)

any type is fine. I really like romance, drama, adventure, sci-fi, classic/new

I just read; The Last Leaf, Born of Man and Woman, Flowers for Algernon and Appointment with Love…I really liked those!

I need short ones because I have to read them weekly for school assignments.

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35 Answers

Jamspoon's avatar

I just loaned A Short History of Indians in Canada from the library yesterday which is a collection of short stories by Thomas King, a prolific Canadian author.

The first story, of the same title as the book, is quite good, and is very, very short.

Another I would recommend is called The Veldt by Ray Bradbury which I just reread a few weeks ago. Actually, you should look for a book call The Martian Chronicles which is a collection of Bradbury’s short stories on the subject of the first attempt to colonize Mars… brilliant stuff.

Oh, and I just recalled a book of short stories by Irvine Welsh that I read last year about this time called If You Liked School You’ll Love Work. Great book as well :D

RedPowerLady's avatar

Get/Rent this book: Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven
It is all short stories. They are hilarious. They are also cultural (Native American) so if you have to discuss the stories in a review then it would give you some good material.

kutelilkat's avatar

When I look for books/stories, there’s just too many to choose from! I cant pick through them all LOL

Thanks everyone!

upholstry's avatar

Kafka’s ‘Before the Law’ (1 page)

kenmc's avatar

@Jamspoon The Martian Chronicles was a great book. Lurve for you.

upholstry's avatar

Or maybe a story from Italo Calvino’s ‘Cosmicomics’.

upholstry's avatar

Or Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Ficciones’

kutelilkat's avatar

I’ve heard of some of these ;)
I’ve got some Bradbury on my amazon wish list; I think I’ll go ahead and get some of his stuff soon now ;)

kutelilkat's avatar

I know people have different taste, but I thought this might be a good starting point and help me find some stuff I other wise might have missed. keep ‘em coming ;)

kevbo's avatar

Ummm… does it have to be great?


kutelilkat's avatar

@kevbo lol… I just read a little of it.

umm… ok, hmm.. interesting… That wont due for school though lol

kevbo's avatar

It’s a fine example of contemporary transgressive fiction.

kutelilkat's avatar

transgressive fiction; Well, I didnt know about that. I’ve learned something new. Thanks!

discover's avatar

The happy prince and other tales – Oscar Wilde

kutelilkat's avatar

Ohhh I just remember, I love fairy tales! heehee… I should read a bunch of those. :)

theluckiest's avatar

Joyce Carol Oates, if you’re looking for something kinda heavy

aprilsimnel's avatar

Oooh, get Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Other Sotries. She’s goooood. Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find has some very suspenseful stories in it. Dorothy Parker did more than make quips and clean up Hollywood screenplays, she wrote short stories as well; her best known is Big Blonde. I believe most big name writers of today and yesterday have tried their hand at the style. A lot of them started in it. Happy reading!

kenmc's avatar

@kevbo Oh, wow.

That’s… amazing… Umm… Utterly wrong and devious, but amazing none-the-less.

Thank you?

Jamspoon's avatar

@boots Palahniuk is a great contemporary author, props to kevbo for recommending him.

mcbealer's avatar

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edgar Allan Poe wrote many great short stories
also enjoyed reading The Bachman Books by Stephen King/Richard Bachman

Amoebic's avatar

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror short story collections. These tomes are anywhere from 1.5 – 2 inches thing and packed full of great short stories by many different authors. They’re also a great way for finding new writers to delve into!

sdeutsch's avatar

I second Oscar Wilde, and The Year’s Best Fantasty and Horror.

Also, check out Maps in a Mirror by Orson Scott Card – he’s an amazing writer, and his stories are a really interesting mix of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, philosophy, and all sorts of other stuff.

janney05's avatar

Vonegut – Welcome to the Monkey House -

this is a great book of short stories and also a great into to Vongegut’s work. master storyteller

EmpressPixie's avatar

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonngeut. It is absolutely the best short story I have ever read. It’s completely amazing.

emilia_eclaire's avatar

I totally second Flannery O’ Connor and Shirley Jackson. O’ Connor is a master. F. Scott Fitzgerald is also great, and I can’t believe no one has mentioned Ernest Hemingway! It’d be worth it to pick up both the collected short stories of O’Connor and Hemingway, because you’ll want to read them all.

As far as single stories go, “The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is absolutely beautiful.

aprilsimnel's avatar

W. Somerset Maugham. I forgot him.

And P.G. Wodehouse. Hilarious. He writes funny stories about the upper class English in a way that real UC English never, but would like to have, existed. Jeeves…!

kutelilkat's avatar

WOW :) Wonderful!

I’m really curious to go pick these all up and read a lot now!

Yes, please do mention any great classics. I only had a few that were required reading in school! (huckleberry (eh..ok), Ann of Green Gables (better), and Helen Keller (pretty good))

Ashpea9288's avatar

Any of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories are amazing, but some of my favorites are “Interpreter of Maladies,” “Sexy,” “Mrs. Sen’s,” and “The Third and Final Continent.”

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i love a great day for bananafish by j.d. salinger

emilia_eclaire's avatar

@tiffyandthewall and @Ashpea9288

oh snap! i can’t believe I forgot salinger! yes, Nine Stories is actually my favorite work of his. AND jhumpa lahiri! I loved Interpreter of Maladies. It’s probably the best and most popular book of short stories to come out in a really long time.

Great suggestions both.

Jamspoon's avatar

Vonnegut is a definite win, I don’t know why I didn’t mention him before, I’ve been reading Welcome to the Monkey House for the last two weeks, it’s a great book as @janney05 has mentioned and Harrison Bergeron, which @EmpressPixie mentioned, is the second story in the book.

bea2345's avatar

Roald Dahl is a great read. I mostly know his longer works, but he wrote many short stories. For my money, the most readable of short story authors is Somerset Maugham. Many of his stories are based on his travels in the Far East and some have been made into films. Then there are O. Henry, H.H. Munro (‘Saki’), and those two perfectly American writers, Dashiell Hammett and Damon Runyon. If most of my names are of people who were born before the Second World War, that’s because the genre came into its own during the interwar years. How I envy you your access to the best library service on the planet.

sdeutsch's avatar

@bea2345 I totally forgot about Roald Dahl! I’ve mostly read his longer stuff too, but the short stories that I have read are excellent too. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a good place to start, and if you like his work, The Roald Dahl Omnibus is fabulous.

Also, if you’re interested in Dahl himself, I highly recommend The Irregulars – it’s a pretty fascinating account of his time as a British Intelligence agent in Washington during WWII.

DaisyMae's avatar

“Daisy Miller,” a novella by Henry James, is a favorite of mine.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

These are some of my favorites. Many are now hard to find today and not in any particular order:

For Esme—with Love and Squalor, by J.D. Salinger. Then there is A Perfect Day For Banana Fish. It’s really hard to say which of these are better, but they definitely are his best IMHO. If you’re beyond your teens then forget A Catcher in the Rye. These two short stories are much, much better.

Lechery by Jayne Anne Phillips. Told in first person by a 14 year-old female prostitute and heterosexual pedophile. Chilling, realistic. She wrote this after hitching across the US, like many of us did, in the 1970s. This is a great writer.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Think of Edith Wharton suffering a psychotic episode. Written during a time when even lives of upper class, educated women were confined to the home and the rearing of children. Incredible and brave writing by an excellent author.

Why I live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty. This is a hilarious first-person narrative told in Welty’s distinctive southern voice.

Victory Over Japan by Ellen Gilchrist. This is the story that gave the name to the book of short stories. It is a story told in first person by a precocious ten year old girl with a wagon and a introverted male classmate on a wartime paper drive to win the war for America and Democracy. A mother’s love. An absent father. Strange reading material found in a basement. Not a children’s story at all.

Liquor Makes You Smart, by Anita Loos, the author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This is a very short story told in the same voice as Lorelei, a 1920s goldigger at a time when society gave women few chances to earn and enjoy wealth on their own. They weren’t exactly welcome on the stock exchange. A girl couldn’t exactly party in Manhattan, live in the Hamptons, and vacation in Cuba or Palm Beach on a nurse’s or teacher’s salary. So, I find amoral Lorelei practical, funny, adorable—excusable. This is a great intro to Loos’ genius and it is one reason why even gentlemen preferred Loos. And this is another.

In the Zoo, by Jean Stafford. This is an excellent and interesting ramble told by two orphaned sisters, a strange foster mother/boarding house operator, a likeable and tragic alcoholic (she actually makes this character believable), a menagerie of monkeys and birds—all within the reminiscences of two middle-aged sisters sitting on a bench watching a polar bear at the zoo. I love Jean Stafford.

I Stand Here Ironing, by Tillie Olsen. I’m a guy who never had children, but this really, really got me for some reason. Maybe it’s because Olsen is such a great writer that she can suck you into anything whether you have any latent interest in it or not. But the target audience, if there is one, is mothers of daughters—and it is haunting.

Revenge of the Lawn, by Richard Brautigan. This is the first of many short stories in the book by the same name. Brautigan was essentially a poet who needed to write prose in order to make a living. So he wrote some of the best short stories in modern American Literature, IMO. Tis one is quite funny, actually. Here are others, but The Revenge of the Lawn is not included. Brautigan was my favorite writer of short stories for a long time through highschool and later in San Francisco where I knew him. He committed suicide while I was in Europe and it broke my heart.

A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor. This is one of the most popular short stories by her—and for good reason—but I have a hard time deciding which is better: A Good Man or Revelation. I’m interested in what our Flutherite Wellesley grad thinks of the latter.

The Swimmer, by John Cheever. You never know if this guy is just a free spirit or having a nervous breakdown till the end, but the story along the way is great Cheever stuff. It also translated to film surprisingly well.

When Everyone Was Pregnant, by John Updike. If you want a good take on what life was like for those young adults who grew up in the Depression, fought WWII, then created the 1950s, this is it. Updike looks back at the ‘50s from his perch in the turbulent ‘70s.

Kneel to the Rising Sun, by Erskine Cauldwell. This is a brutal story of, among other things, the relationship between the landowner and the sharecropper in the 1930s South told by one of America’s greatest southern writers.

Baby in the Icebox, by James M. Caine. I just like this one for no particular reason other than it all happens at a quiet roadside café in rural California valley in the 1940s. I can smell the dirt in the fields and the coffee at the counter.

Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemmingway. I like this story not because it’s Hemmingway or because of his stoic style, but because this is an oblique dialogue between a man and a woman about abortion in the 1920s, written in the 1920s, to a 1920s audience. I can’t understand how publishing this didn’t torpedo his career. It was real taboo stuff. Took some real balls on Max Perkins part. Maybe Hemmingways readers didn’t understand what this couple was talking about. Americans were quite naïve about those things. That was the joke in Paris, anyway.

The Speech of Polly Baker, by Benjamin Franklin. This took balls to publish in 1747. He was also the author of this. It’s a wonder they let him even be dog catcher, much less US Postmaster General and Ambassador to Britain and France.

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