Favorite Short Stories
Recommended by Nicole, a former adult reference intern at the Canton Public Library.
Check our other Fave Five lists, too!
"Wants" in The Collected Storiesby Grace Paley
A woman runs into her ex-husband at the library, who accuses her of wanting nothing. She refutes this, after he has left. All this in a story only 3 pages long! Paley captures characters and conversations so well in very few words. I was lucky enough to have Grace Paley visit a class I took, and she was as down-to-earth and witty, as you might imagine from her writing. Her recent death is certainly a loss.
"People Like That Are the Only People Here" in Prize Stories, 1998: The O. Henry Awardsby Lorrie Moore
The story is about a heartbreaking subject, but as Rick Moody writes in an introduction to the piece, Moore unflinchingly takes on the most difficult of all dramas, the sickness of a child, without indulging once in sentimentality. This O. Henry prize-winning story was first published in the New Yorker. After reading it there, I went out to find other writing by Moore. Worth reading and rereading.
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in Nine Storiesby J.D. Salinger
A veteran, recently released from a psychiatric hospital, is vacationing with his wife. He befriends a little girl, telling her about the mythical bananafish, whose life meets an unfortunate end. Im a Salinger fan in general, and this is one of my favorite pieces by him.
"Good Country People" in The Complete Storiesby Flannery OConnor
A bible salesman calls on a farmer, his wife, and their PhD-holding daughter back from school. What I liked best about this story is that it surprised me, so I wont say much more. If you havent read OConnor, give this one a try.
"The Swimmer" in The Stories of John Cheever
Neddy Merrill decides to swim home from a friends house, through his suburban neighborhood, pool by pool. What starts out as fine day turns quite dark. Another story that inspired me to read more by the author.