The short story form is something I have yet to master, yet it’s a form I love returning to again and again in my reading. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, short stories are like “Buddhist catnaps.” While even the bad ones can be a form of escapism from day to day activities and easily forgotten, some rise to the level of art and can be as complex, challenging, and unforgettable as the greatest of novels.
Having just finished reading James Joyce’s short story collection, Dubliners, I was inspired to create a brief list of the greatest short stories I’ve ever read.
1. “The Dead” by James Joyce
2. “The Basement Room” (aka “The Fallen Idol”) by Graham Greene
3. “Two Soldiers” and “Shall Not Perish” by William Faulkner
4. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
5. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe
I was also tempted to include “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, though that is officially considered a novella, and at 80 some odd pages, it is rather torturous to get through (which is part of the suspense of it all).
What stories would make your list?
For more on James Joyce’s “The Dead” and my current reads, click below: