Friday, January 04, 2008

Short Story Favourites

I’m still mulling over which short story collections to include on my reading list for the Short Story Reading Challenge. In the meantime though, with the idea that it might provide some new possibilities for other participants, I've compiled a list of my all-time favourites from the short story reading that I’ve done up to this point in my life. I’ve broken it down into three categories: all-time favourite short story collections, short story writers whose entire collected works I treasure, and individual stories that stand out for me as masterpieces of the form. For the collections and stories listed below that I’ve previously written about on my blog, I’ve linked back to the relevant blog post. Of course, I freely admit that this is a very subjective and partial list. I’m hoping that this year’s short story reading prompts me to add several items to each category!

My All-Time Favourite Short Story Collections

Caroline Adderson, Pleased to Meet You (Thomas Allen, 2006);

Roberto Bolaño, Last Evenings on Earth (New Directions, 2006);

Bonnie Burnard, Women of Influence (Coteau Books, 1988);

Jackie Kay, Why Don’t You Stop Talking? (Picador, 2002);

John Lent, Monet’s Garden (Thistledown Press, 1996);

Lorrie Moore, Birds of America (Knopf, 1998);

Alice Munro, Who Do You Think You Are? (published in the U.S. under the title The Beggar Maid) (Macmillan, 1978);

James Salter, Last Night (Knopf, 2005);

Ali Smith, The Whole Story and Other Stories (Random House, 2003);

Guy Vanderhaeghe, Man Descending (Macmillan, 1982);

Thomas Wharton, The Logogryph (Gaspereau Press, 2005); and,

Michael Winter, One Last Good Look (The Porcupine’s Quill, 1999).

Brilliant Short Story Writers Whose Collected Works I Treasure:

Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Mansfield, and Jean Stafford.

Individual Masterpieces:

“Falling” by Caroline Adderson (from Pleased to Meet You);

“The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov (from Anton Chekhov’s Stories);

“The Dead” by James Joyce (from The Dubliners);

“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz (from In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories);

“The Book Club” by Ali Smith (from The Whole Story and Other Stories); and,

“Helping” by Robert Stone (from Bear and His Daughter).


Anonymous said...

Have you read British author Sarah Salway's Leading The Dance? She somehow manages to turn mundane domesticity into haunting portraits of people who seem to have no place to go. Together with your collection All in Together Girls it got me hooked on reading short stories of late.

Kind regards,

Joy said...

Thanks, Kate! Being that I am not familiar with short stories, this is a great reference list. :)

Razovsky said...

Great list, Kate!

I think my favourite single-author story collections are Safety of Objects, by A.M. Homes, and Civilwarland in Bad Decline, by George Saunders. Oh, and maybe Graham Greene's Twenty-One Stories.

traveller one said...

I'd recommend "From Ink Lake", a great book of Canadian short stories edited by Michael Ondaatje!

Rattling Books said...

If you're interested in listening to some short stories Rattling Books has some good ones you can get either as unabridged editions of printed short story collections or as Digital Download only Singles. Mavis Gallant, Lisa Moore, Susan Rendell, Janis Spence.

something different for the mp3 player.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in short stories with an Australian slant, seek out 'Best Australian Stories 2007' (or 2006, 2005, etc) published by Black Inc - taking the best of published Australian short stories and displaying them in one handsome book.

My current favourite short story collection is Miranda July's. I went to it expecting stories of an entertaining bent, but found it rather literary as well as populist. Very haunting and scarily well-written.


Seachanges said...

This list is really helpful, as well as the comments. I'm still trying to compile my list but will get there. I have just received 'You are here' edited by Bill Broady and Jane Metcalfe which is a collection of very diverse short stories. the other one I will include is of course the rest of 'All in together Girls' (have read about 5 so far).

Anonymous said...

Kate, Thank you so much for this very helpful resource! It's particularly valuable coming from someone who's such a skilled practioner of this form. And for including links to some of the individual masterpieces, you go straight to the blogging hall of fame.

Art on the Edge said...

I am looking forward to being inspired by your posts. I was once an avid reader and writer and, as my focus steared to the visual arts, have really allowed myself to drift from the written word.

Seachanges said...

Kate: Can you please send me another invite to the Short Story blog? I am unable to post on this site and am referred to 'A Curious Singularity' for which I have now been set up. I think I need to accept with a google account before I get access. sorry about this...

Bold Blue Adventure said...

Thanks for the list. I have not read too many short stories, so I am definitely looking for some suggestions.

rob mclennan said...

very cool to see Thomas Wharton on yr list (I just sent him the link); have you read Timothy Findley's short story collection, Stones? Or Jaspreet Singh's Seventeen Tomatoes? Brilliant...

still hoping you answer them 12 or 20 questions at some point.... glad to see you had fun in our ottawa!

alberta rob

SEA said...

I'll have to check those out. You might not know about a new short story collection at It has some cool stories. Maybe, it will make your next list.