Oct 252010

How ’bout a top 15?  Share a few details about your selections.  No novellas. 

This is one of my favorite forms of lit.  I could list hundreds.

What say you, readers?

 Posted by at 9:00 pm

  7 Responses to “Your Favorite Short Stories…”

  1. Curt

    In no particular order:

    1. “The Fog Horn” (Ray Bradbury). Achingly poignant and heartbreaking, yet eerie and fraught with tension. First read this in junior high and it has stuck with me since.

    2. “By The River, Fontainebleau” (Stephen Gallagher). Beautifully written. Many times I’ve been lucky enough to have that girl in my life who was rapturous. The ending of this story is pure…horror.

    3. “Umney’s Last Case” (Stephen King). Gorgeous noir with a brilliant twist. Pure King. Vintage King. Incomparable King.

    4. “Free Dirt” (Charles Beaumont). Stunningly original black humor. Quick and dirty (pun fully intended), and bound to stick with you.

    5. “1408” (Stephen King). Love a good haunting/ghost story. The film version of this was bloody brilliant too. Unquestionably one of the best King adaptations.

    6. “The Monkey’s Paw” (W.W. Jacobs). Simply terrifying. I was young when I read this.

    7. “The Snows Of Kilimanjaro” (Ernest Hemingway). I love Hemingawy. And most dustbowl Americana, for that matter.

    8. “Willa” (Stephen King). Haunting and lovely. Arguably his best recent short fiction.

    9. “The Outsider” (H.P. Lovecraft). Sad and has that spiraling twist to it that always adds a point or two to any tale in my esteem.

    10. “The Lottery” (Shirley Jackson). I love stories that have that sort of unexplainable element to them. We know why this happens and can’t necessarily say it is out of line with what we know of ourselves. Disturbing.

    11. “The Ledge” (Stephen King). Dark…lovely…vengeance. Vivid and exhilarating.

    12. “Window” (Bob Leman). Horror/Sci-fi. That idyllic little slice of something that may not be quite what it seems. Neato.

    13. “A Sound of Thunder” (Ray Bradbury). Tossed up this one and “Poor Little Warrior!” (Aldiss). Similar but different. Read ’em both.

    two more to come.

    • “Fog Horn” is an interesting (and good) selection, my favourite Bradbury tale was always “The Fire Balloons”. I read it when I was very young and the story just stayed with me always. It seems to me to be the first (and best) representation of how religion would be affected by the occurrence of mankind finding other intelligent life. My favourite short story though was always “The Enchanted Village”, by A.E van Vogt. Another story that after I read it I remembered every detail exquisitely.

      I like your preoccupation with the macabre, but was surprised not to find any Lovejoy amongst your selections. As for selections that are “bound to stick with you’ try another great Van Vogt tale, “A Can of Paint”. I read it when I was 9 and I have imagined that paint crawling all over my skin ever since.

      • The crazy thing is, I have several volumes of AE Van Vogt short stories…but I left them behind with my father in the early 1990s when I started working internationally. I’m fairly certain I read “The Enchanted Valley”. I’ll keep an eye out, now that you’ve brought the guy back to my attention – might even buy a few.

      • Hey, Chip.

        Indeed I’ll be adding one of two Lovecraft tales in numbers 9 through 15.

        As mentioned to Lance…I could list my top 50 here.

        The others coming soon…

  2. It’s been ages since I’ve read short stories aside from the perennial favourites, but here, in no order, are some of mine which I perused my library to come up with: nothing earth shattering, no literary masterpieces, just short, sharp nuggets of beautiful writing.

    (1) “Jamilya” by Chingyz Aitmatov. One of the best evocations of time and place (1940s Kyrgyzstan) and love ever written.

    (2) “Silver Blaze” – my favourite Sherlock Holmes story (part of my research for the upcoming “Hounds” session), and source of the famous dictum “The dog did nothing in the night time.”

    (3) “By His Bootstraps” by Robert Heinlein. Fiendishly clever time travel story…a guy meets himself oh, seven or eight times. You get a headache trying to keep it all straight

    (4) “The Rocket Man” by Ray Bradbury. If there was ever a story about expatriate life in metaphor, this is it. Captures my mindset perfectly. Hey, Bradbury wrote tons, this is just one fave out of many.

    (5) “Red Nails” by Robert E. Howard. Best written Conan story bar none.

    (6) “Crouch End” by Stephen King. No short story list can be complete without schlockmeister King. Loved “1408” and “Jerusalem’s Lot” and many others. Picked this one.

    (7) Anything from “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri…with points for prose and style as well as meaning and plot.

    (8) “Johnson and the Cascadura” by Samuel Selvon. Atmospheric, complex period piece set in the countryside of 1950s Trinidad.

    (9) “The Ugly Little Boy” by Isaac Asimov. Nothing sci-fi here, nothing about engineering nor robots. Just the relationship of a little boy and an elderly spinster. One of Asimov’s absolute best.

    (10) “The Final Question” by Isaac Asimov. How can entropy be reversed? is the question, and the answer is nothing short of brilliant…you laugh with delight when it comes.

    (11) Any one story from “A Twist in the Tale” by Jeffrey Archer. Both “A Perfect Murder” and “Clean Sweep Ignatious” are pearls beyond price.

    (12) The “Deceiver” by Frederick Forsythe. Four short tales of spycraft, the trade and its price…perhaps better described as novellas, but I’m chosing, so I say they’re long short stories.

    This is all I can come up with on short notice. Anyone else?

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