A few days ago, a group of us got into a lively debate about short stories vs. novels. My friends rarely read short stories. Some of them admitting they haven’t read a single one since their last English class. None of them were surprised that writers, especially amateur ones, write significantly more short fiction than novel-length. But they seemed quite surprised when I said that read a good bit of short fiction as well.
I explained that not only does crafting a tightly-worded, interesting short story (often within a given word count) in extraordinarily challenging, but that the short format lends itself toward far more experimentation than longer works. In the end I made a few converts—who then immediately asked me for a list of recommended short stories.
Now I have quite a few favorites that I can pass along, but it got me wondering. What stories you all would recommend to people trying to reacquaint themselves with short fiction?
If you’d like to play along, leave two recommendations. The first should be a “classic”, a time-tested short story. The second can be anything you want, but try to recommend something you love that the rest of us won’t know about.
Here are mine:
- The Cask of Amantillado, by Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve loved this story since I first read it in Elementary School. To my mind it has one of the all-time great first lines. Even today, if I read the first line, I wind up reading the whole thing.
- The Minch Maneuver, by Fiona Curnow.
This story appeared in in the first edition of Future Orbits, a short lived e-zine of science fiction and scientific essay. It’s the story of smugglers, set in a world of solar-systemwide travel, but like all the best sci-fi, the world is just the backdrop for a the personal story of the ship’s captain.