Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Favorite Short Stories in 2010- The Year I discovered I was wrong about short stories

"I need a break from the stress of coediting this blog"-Charles
For many years, like a lot of other bloggers, I have not been interested in reading short stories.    I told myself that I needed a work with more scope than a short story.   I like to enter into the worlds created by authors and I felt I could not really do this through short stories.    The short story seemed somehow like an unsubstantial literary form.       Then in March of this year Suko of Suko's Notebook  suggested I join a short story reading event.  One thing followed another and I saw that my prejudice against the short story was very much a mistake.   In 2010 I have so far posted on  172 short stories.

I began to look at lists of the best short stories of the world to find the highest regarded stories.   Most, but not all, of them were by authors I was already familiar with.    There are also a number of excellent web pages that produce a daily selection of short stories.    The best of them, to me, is East of the Web:Short Stories.   There are 1000s of short stories that can be read online for free. has a great selection of short stories.    A lot of the short stories online are older public domain works but there are also 1000s of 21th century short stories online.   This is important to me as there are no public libraries where I live and I also want my readers to be able to read the stories I post on also.   Of the 172 stories I posted on, 85 of them were by one writer, Katherine Mansfield.   This post will focus on the best of the short stories I read in 2010 other than those by Mansfield.   Here is my list of 2010 short stories, with a brief comment on some.   In those cases where I think the work is part of the canon I will say so also.    The stories are listed in the order I read them.

  1. "Bartleby, The Scrivener" By Herman Melville-a strange marvelous story-for sure canon status work
  2. "Heaven and Hell" by Jhumpa Lahiri -great writer-huge potential-Pulitzer Prize winner
  3. "A Doctor's Visit" by Anton Chekhov-all his stories are part of the canon
  4. "The Yellow Wall Paper" by Charlotte  Perkins-very interesting work-should be read for sure-maybe canon
  5. "The Queen of Spades" by Alexander Pushkin-an easy way to read your first Pushkin work-canon work
  6.  "The Gift of The Magi" by O Henry-one must read a few O Henry stories-maybe canon
  7. "The Open Window" by Saki-either he is the English O Henry or vice versa-also a maybe
  8. "The Withered Arm" by Thomas Hardy 1888-Hardy has real power-canon work
  9. "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka -1915-very high canon status work-Life time reading plan work
  10. "The Dead" by James Joyce 1914-a work of great beauty-high canon status work
  11. "Squeaker's Wife" by Barbara Baynton -she should be a canon status writer-outback stories
  12. "Hungary Stones" by Rabindranth Tagore  1916-first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature-canon
  13. "Stick Fighting" by Olufemi Terry-2009 Caine Prize Winner-this is a really well done story
  14. "Hands" by Sherwood Anderson-deserves a wider readership-GLBT story
  15. "Boule de Suif" by Guy de Maupassant 1880-canon status work-best known of his stories
  16. "The Model Millionaire" By Oscar Wilde -have to have one of Oscar's stories on my list
  17. "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol  -canon status-just below "The Overcoat"
  18. "The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol-life time reading plan work-super high canon status
  19. "A Haunted House"  by Virginia Woolf 1921-have to have a Woolf on the list
  20. "The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen-50/50 on including this
I left out Kate Chopin.   I like her work but I have not made up my mind on her yet.   The stories listed are just from the 85 or so non-Mansfield short stories I read in 2010.   I am sure there are many more wonderful short stories still waiting out there for me to read them!.

If anyone has any suggestions for short stories for 2011 please leave a comment.   I will be doing another post on Katherine Mansfield soon.    I already have plans in 2011 to read the complete short stories of James Joyce and a large collection of stories by Collete.  

Of these stories the highest canon status works are "The Overcoat" and "The Metamorphosis" (tied basically) followed "The Dead" by James Joyce and "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville.

Mel u


Marg said...

There was a Katherine Mansfield short story on the Guardian books podcast not to long ago - The Doll's House.

Suko said...

Mel, I cannot believe you posted on 172 short stories so far in 2010, starting in March. That is unbelievable, yet I know it's true. Wow! And you are now an expert on the short fiction of Katherine Mansfield (I know I should read more of her work). Thanks for all of your insightful reviews, and for the multitude of short story links you've provided for us.

Chelle said...

I think Perkins is for sure in the canon. Genius!

My favorite short story writers so far are Tobias Wolff and Sherman Alexie. They are still alive and kicking so you won't find their works for free, unfortunately. But I think they are both masters of the short story form and worth a look! In particular I like Our Story Begins (Wolff) and War Dances (Alexie).

Chelle said...

P.S. Here's a post I did on "The Dead" if you'd care to check it out:

Mel u said...

Marg-thanks for that reference

Suko-thanks as always

Chellie-I checked your blog-I found a link to Araby only-what am I doing wrong-I followed your link-and thanks so much for visiting my blog

Unknown said...

Last year I asked readers to send in suggestions for a list of 1001 short stories to read before you die. Made it to 333. I still have the list posted on a page at my blog.

I've been thinking about doing another round of additions to it later this year.

Glad to see a new convert to the form. I think many people are missing out on a lot of excellent stuff by refusing to read short stories.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

So glad you discovered short stories this year. There are some wonderful ones (including many on your list) out there!

Short Story Slore said...

Great list! I agree with you on Kate Chopin - I'm still on the fence. And because of you Mansfield is on my list for 2011. I've been making an effort with short story magazines and I usually find interesting pieces at I highly recommend Deborah Willis (Vanishing and Other Stories) and I'm almost finished with Vida by Patricia Engel and I've honestly loved every piece of hers. I'm switching things up with Stephen King next since I've only read his novels. Good luck choosing for 20111

Anonymous said...

That's an impressive catch-up! I wish I had been as prolific as you.
I have also started posting regularly on short stories I read. I really enjoyed reading Carver this year, although I did not review any of his stories; soon maybe...

Astrid (Mrs.B) said...

This looks like a great list Mel however, I've only read The Withered Arm and The Dead. The Withered Arm is one of the best short stories I've ever read. I'm bookmarking your list and hope to read some of these stories next year. Happy New Year!