There was much talk at our office on Friday about other favorite short stories that should be singled out for top ten lists. Personally, my top ten list is always, always changing. So, as with most chores these days, we lay the burden down on our intern Chris, who came up with the following. Feel free to add your own lists, dear readers. -Hannah
One Story intern Chris’s “Top Ten Short Stories”
1. “For Esme – With Love and Squalor” by J.D. Salinger — I don’t reread stories ever. I always want to be absorbing something new. Yet, about once a year I always find myself coming back to this one. Since 6th grade I think I’ve read this one about twelve times. I think it’s because Salinger managed to convince me of the main character’s love for Esme to the extent that I became less a voyeur in their interactions, and more a guardian of their shared history. P.S. If the only thing you’ve ever read by Salinger is The Catcher In the Rye, you should at least check out Nine Stories.
2. “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor — “Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.” How can you beat that for a last line?
3. “The Garden Of the Forking Paths” by Jorge Louis Borges — I never really connected with the mystery genre… but this one is so original, so clever, so unexpected. I could have put down just about any story from Borges on this list, but this one always stands out to me as a perfect example of how he could take an existing form and morph it into something completely new in terms of style, and form.
4. “Next Door” By Tobias Wolff — You really need to read this if you haven’t already. I can’t think of anything to say without giving the story away. It’s just so good.
5. “Araby” by James Joyce — The man could write epiphanies like nobody’s business. It’s so short, but there is such a fullness to the way he writes, which I always loved.
6. “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham — This story taught me the power of jumping in between tenses, I’ve been in love with technique ever since.
7. “Swaddling Clothes” by Yukio Mishima — Like all of his stuff, it’s a little disturbing… but that’s not why I picked it. He does this great trick with time that I’m still trying to figure out.
8. “Hell Heaven” by Jhumpa Lahiri — When she came to Connecticut College this year, she read this story. I was absolutely floored.
9. “Blood Burning Moon” by Jean Toomer — This is from his work, Cane, there is special lyricism in his writing that I’ve always loved. This story is one of the few that has ever frightened me. One night at school, the moon turned blood red and I called everyone that I cared about be make sure they were okay because of this story.
10. “Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness” by Kenzaburo Oe— Okay, I’m bending the rules here. They call this a “short novel”, but I don’t buy into that. This story is touching, disturbing, intriguing, and demonstrative of what I think is great about his writing.