martes, 30 de abril de 2013

What Are Your Three Favorite Short Stories?

Your humble scribe is so partied out from spending his income tax refund money on new books* that he doesn't even have room for that watching Mankells Wallander Film 9 (Täckmanteln) is probably all his poor little pea brain can handle tonight.  In other words, apologies to anybody expecting a Dead Souls, a Karl Kraus or an Andrey Platonov post (all postponed, at least for a day or two) as well as for that American athlete style use of the third person above.  With that out of the way, I do have a favor to ask of any of you newcomers or "regulars" who might have wandered over here.  Now that you're here, would you please consider sharing a few of your favorite short story titles with me?  I'm hoping to incorporate some more regular short story reading into my reading diet for the rest of the year and would appreciate your input.  Any favorites?  Would three recommendations from you be too much to ask for?  Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


April 2013 New Additions*
Borges, Jorge Luis.  Textos cautivos (Alianza Editorial).
Chekhov, Anton.  The Complete Short Novels (Vintage Classics).
Kleist, Heinrich von.  Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist (Archipelago Books).
Miller, Perry.  The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).
Tolstoy, Leo.  Collected Shorter Fiction, Volumes 1 & 2 (Everyman's Library).

47 comentarios:

  1. For three individual short stories, I'll go with:

    "Symbols and Signs" by Nabokov
    "While the Women are Sleeping" by Marías
    "Ana Maria" by José Donoso.

    For three collections of short stories, I'll go with:
    "Imaginary Lives" by Marcel Schwob
    "Blow-up and other stories" by Julio Cortazar
    "Novels in three lines" by Félix Fénéon


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    1. Thanks for these great recs, Richard--and bonus brownie points for you for the short story collection suggestions! Oddly enough given all the Marías I've read and enjoyed to date, I don't think I've yet tried one of his cuentos. Will have to rectify that soon. Think I read that Donoso a long time ago but should probably revisit it. Have enjoyed almost all of the Cortázar and Schwob stories I've read from the two titles you mention, with Cortázar's The Pursuer novella being a particular fave. Anyway, thanks again for getting the recommendation ball rolling here!

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  2. Three? Oh come on. Do we have to choose just three?

    Okay. For today, for this moment, maybe not tomorrow:

    "The Old Chevalier," by Isak Dinesen
    "Araby," by James Joyce
    "The Deprong Mori of the Tripiscum Plateau," by David Wilson

    Oh, and kudos on your new acquisitions. I have a strong case of book envy.

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    1. Thanks a lot for your selections as well as the "kudos" on the recent book acquisitions, Scott--I'm certainly open to getting more short story title recs from you if/when you have the time! Until then, I haven't read much of anything your three authors have ever written, so this will be a good road map to set out on the journey with each of them. Cheers!

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    2. Okay then, here are five more!

      "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery," by James Thurber
      "The Aloe," by Katherine Mansfield
      "Barnabo of the Mountains," by Dino Buzzati
      "The Burrow," by Franz Kafka
      "The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller," by Gustav Flaubert

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    3. Thank you, my good man! All of these would be new to me as well (although the Thurber sounds vaguely familiar for some reason), but I'm grateful to have another specific Kafka rec and the Flaubert, well...it intrigues.

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  3. "The Duel" by Chekhov
    "The Walk" by Lydia Davis
    "A Stone Woman" by A.S. Byatt

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    1. Scott, I see your definition of a short story is a little on the elastic side: my copy of that Chekhov piece is nearly 125 pages long! Thanks very much for these tips, though; I've yet to read Byatt and only know Davis as a translator.

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    2. Yes, I cheated with the Chekhov. My first impulse was actually his "Gusev," which has a remarkable final couple of pages. "The Duel" is a perfect novella, though. If I were to teach writing novels, I'd begin with a reading of "The Duel."

      Most of Davis is awfully gimmicky, but "The Walk" is quite fine. Byatt had a great middle period; I don't get excited about her newest books.

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    3. Thanks for the follow-up on all those writers--seem to remember some blog friends of mine raving about Davis without ever warning me about her "awfully gimmicky" side! Haven't forgotten about your recent reference to Gogol's "The Nose" either; unfortunately, it's been so long since I think I read that one that I'm going to read it again soon just to make sure I ever read it for real in the first place (this was never a problem back when I was, like, 20).

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  4. Only three? Oh, very well...

    "Ionych" by Anton Chekhov
    "The Bruce-Partington Plans" by Arthur Conan Doyle
    "The Enduring Chill" by Flannery O'Connor

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    1. Himadri, I'm relieved that I've actually read all three of your author selections before--and ecstatic that I've never read these three particular stories! Feel free to send any more choices you'd care to, but thanks a bunch for this trio here. Cheers!

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  5. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor (and really, O'Connor's collected short stories in full)
    will get back to you about the other two in a bit.

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    1. Jeremy, I read O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories a few years ago and really enjoyed the edgy writing. When I wasn't made squeamish by it that is!

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  6. "Asemblea de los Martes" by Slavko Zupcic
    "La Indiferencia de Eva" by Soledad Puertolas

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    1. These two are new to me, Jeremy--thanks for weighing in with your picks. Cheers!

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  7. I must admit that my short story reading up until this point has been sparse. There really is no good reason for this as I have nothing against the literary form. I have just, without being conscious of it gravitated towards longer forms.

    When I was younger i did read a fair amount of science fiction and some horror based short stories. These are surely not the best short stories in the world, but a few science fiction/fanciful tales that I would recommend:


    Ray Bradbury: The Pedestrian (Bradbury has so many great stories it was hard to pick one)
    Edgar Allen Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher
    HP Lovecraft: At the Mountains of Madness



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    1. Brian, I was just thinking about rereading "The Fall of the House of Usher" the other day! Always think of "The Cask of Amontillado" as my favorite by Poe, but I need to revisit a bunch of his stuff sometime soon. Thanks for your other picks--not sure I've ever read either Bradbury or Lovecraft, so those might make interesting changes of pace for me.

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  8. I love the old favorite by O. Henry titled The Gift of The Magi. But, I also love Fitzgerald's Bernice Bobs Her Hair (which you can read online here). Finally, Leo Tolstoy's Where God Is, Love is spoke to me profoundly this winter.

    So sorry I didn't join you in the reading of Dead Souls. I had every intention, even bought it for my Nook, and my son's two week visit took reading out of my life. I had to spend every minute with him before he went back to Infantry training in San Diego. I still mean to read it, though, some day.

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    1. Interesting choices, Bellezza! Haven't read Fitzgerald or O. Henry in ages, but the former's Tales of the Jazz Age has been calling my name of late along with a wish to reread The Great Gatsby. And of course your Tolstoy recommendation is in one of the two Tolstoy volumes I just picked up. P.S. No worries about Dead Souls. It was fun for me to reread it, but I wouldn't put that fun on the same level as a family visit like the one you mentioned. Cheers!

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  9. An advantage of answering late: I can omit anything listed above. Also any Chekhov, Tolstoy, Borges, and Kleist. Also Dubliners.

    So:
    Ludwig Teick, "Blonde Eckbert" or "Eckbert the Fair," available in Penguin's Romantic Fairy Tales or Carlyle's translation - crazy dream fiction

    Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Artist of the Beautiful" - an aesthetic manifesto

    I. L. Peretz, "Stories," in The I. L. Peretz Reader - an anti-aesthetic manifesto

    Tobias Wolff, "Bullet in the Brain" - revenge, and also an aesthetic manifesto

    and since it is mentioned in the previous story, Ernest Hemingway, "The Killers"

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    1. Tom, thanks--what a wealth of appealing-sounding choices you guys are supplying! Am particularly interested in the Teich since "crazy dream fiction" brings back fond memories of Nerval's Aurélia and that Hemingway/Wolff combo since I think I've mentioned to you before that I really am overdue to read Hem's Nabokov-approved "The Killers." Good stuff--appreciate it!

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  10. I’m not going to pretend these are the best short stories out there but here are three favorites from among many.

    James Joyce “Grace” from Dubliners. “The Dead” is the obvious (and better choice), but I want to go with things people don’t always read.
    Eudora Welty “Why I Live at the P O” I wanted to include one southern story that wasn’t Faulkner (for the same reason as above). In a cage match between Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, I’d back O’Connor. Maybe I’m going for the underdog here.
    Machado de Assis “The Psychiatrist” Influenced by recently watching the film version of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

    You’re not going to go wrong with the other choices… many stories by O’Connor, Katherine Mansfield, Franz Kafka, D. H. Lawrence, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Tolstoy, Chekov, Borges, Jack London, Calvino, Turgenev, Cheever, Hawthorne (as you’ve noted), Singer and many others will provide lots of pleasure.

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    1. Thanks so much for this bevy of annotated short story recommendation bounty, Dwight, and in particular for the reminder that Machado de Assis was also a short story/novella guy--love his stuff, but I've only ever read his novels so far. The Joyce and Welty picks are also timely since I didn't really know where to begin with them in terms of particular tales. Almost bought Kafka's collected short stories last week since I really want to read The Hunger Artist titles (have only read the title tale so far), but the book disappeared from the shelves from one day to the next while I was debating the purchase. Ack. Thanks again--a lot of great ideas here!

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  11. Some that spring to mind and haven't yet been mentioned:
    The Death of Fascism in Black Ankle County - Joseph Mitchell
    Guests of the Nation - Frank O'Connor
    The Widow's Son - Mary Lavin
    To Build a Fire - Jack London
    A Rose in the Heart of New York - Edna O'Brien
    Hunters in the Snow - Tobias Wolff

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    1. I think that Jack London story is the only one from your list that I've read before, Séamus, so thanks for bringing some new authors/titles to my attention. Didn't enjoy my first brush with Wolff all that much, but now that you and Tom are both joining Frances from Nonsuch Book in having sung his praises to me, I guess it's time to give him another chance. Cheers!

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  12. Such great responses, Richard, from which I, too, greatly benefit.

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    1. I knew people would have some great ideas to throw out, Bellezza, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who actually took the time to share those ideas--glad to hear it's been a benefit for you as well!

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  13. I don't know if these are my favourites but they're fairly good:

    La Plage, by Alain Robbe-Grillet, from his book of short stories "Instantanés." Has been translated into English as The Shore and also as The Beach. I don't know about translations into other languages but The Shore is available in the translation of "Instantanés" known as "Snapshots."

    A Contribution to the Celebration of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, by Robert Walser, from "The Walk and Other Stories."

    Two Parsons, by Virginia Woolf. Ostensibly a book review. In "The Second Common Reader."

    Henry Lawson sometimes pushes too hard but when he holds back he's good value, so -- Shooting the Moon from "While The Billy Boils."

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    1. Thanks very much, Pykk--read the Walser last night right before bed and look forward to rereading that and getting to the other suggestions when I'm more wide awake (I only really know his Jakob von Gunten but I'm a huge admirer/fan of it). Am especially intrigued by your Robbe-Grillet recommendation as I wasn't previously aware he had written any short stories. Anyway, much obliged!

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  14. Some J-Lit, perhaps?

    Akutagawa is good (e.g. 'Hell Screen', 'In a Grove), and I enjoyed the Murakami collection 'The Elephant Vanishes', but you should give 'The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories' a go. Highlights include Oe's 'Prize Stock' and Kawabata's 'The Izu Dancer'.

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    1. Tony, I very much appreciate the variety you've provided here--thanks! Akutagawa has been on my to read list for years, but I always seem to just miss actually buying one of his collections. Not a fan at all of the one Oe novel I've read to date, but I'd give him another chance in a short story dosage and that Oxford collection sounds like a particularly great idea. Also want to get back to Ueda Akinari's Tales of Moonlight and Rain, but I don't know if you're a fan of that one or not. Cheers!

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  15. Old School is easily Tobias Wolff's weakest book.

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    1. That's reassuring to hear, thanks. I went back to reread my post on it after your comment and saw that Frances was specifically encouraging me to read Wolff's short stories afterward and not just more of Wolff in general.

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  16. All right, I just reread (after at least a dozen years) "Two Parsons" to see what the devil Pykk was talking about. I may have to scrap Wuthering Expectations and start over.

    "At last, Heaven be praised, life circulates again; a man comes to the door with a Madagascar monkey"

    and also

    "the pastries an the jellies crumble and squash beneath their spoons in mountains, in pyramids, in pagodas. Never was there a book so stuffed with food as this one."

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    1. "Two Parsons" may have to wait a while for my turn then; something about these otherwise innocuous food descriptions in the lines you quote here bring back all the queasy and hateful feelings Woolf "inspired" in me as I slogged through her wretchedly "droll" Orlando for a group read ages ago. "Two Parsons" would have to be way less annoying on size alone, though, right?

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    2. Droll, huh? That is not the effect in context. More like surprising eruptions in a bleak landscape. The result is - I should not say this - it will sound ridiculous - and it is already a cliché - but it is true - Sebaldian. Like the Swinburne chapter in The Rings of Saturn. Woolf even slyly invokes Sebald at one point, acknowledging the influence.

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    3. I knew I was probably misreading and/or overreacting to the Woolf lines out of context, but something about the giddy exuberance of the snippet is what made me think of the fake droll Orlando. Still haven't forgiven Woolf for that frolic yet. And given that I've yet to read anything by Sebald beyond The Emigrants and about 25 pages of Austerlitz, I'll have to take your word for all that other stuff right now--especially that fine, Obookian last line of yours!

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  17. James Baldwin Sonny's Blues
    Colette Lune de pluie
    Katherine Mansfield Bliss
    Tanith Lee Bloodmantle

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    1. Caroline, thanks very much for the recommendations--all new to me! I see that "Sonny's Blues" is one of those jazz stories you love so much, so that'll be the one from your list I try out first. Cheers!

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  18. I was benefiting a lot from the above suggestions. Here are my favorite collections in English:

    Mandarins by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
    Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra
    Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories by Kōno Taeko
    Death in Midsummer and Other Stories by Mishima Yukio
    Death in Venice and Other Stories by Thomas Mann
    Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
    Tigers are Better-Looking by Jean Rhys

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    1. P.S. I have to add The Burning Plain and Other Stories by Juan Rulfo

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    2. Rise, thanks a bunch for these ideas--a few names I wouldn't have considered, so that's a good start to thinking oustide the box. Also, always great to see Juan Rulfo listed. I should try to finish his short stories one of these days, but I've been keeping them in reserve in case Stu wants top do a Spanish Lit Month II this year. Cheers!

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    3. Sorry to be late to the party, but I brought some Chinese food, so...

      Pu Song Ling, The Painted Skin
      Feng Meng Long, Divine Foxes Lose a Book at Small Water Bay
      Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt
      Rudyard Kipling, The Gardener
      Robert Coover, Spanking the Maid

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    4. Humblehappiness, thanks very much for the suggestions (and the "Chinese food")--three new to me authors and all new to me stories! Also, welcome to the blog--will be trying out one or more of your story recommendations fairly soon. Cheers!

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  19. Can anyone suggest a story with a better title than "Divine Foxes Lose a Book at Small Water Bay"? I have doubts.

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    1. Tom, I was all set to agree with you when I suddenly remembered Chester Himes' less elegant but maybe equally memorable crime caper title: "Marihuana and a Pistol." His "Pork Chop Paradise" also sounds like a potential short story corker, but maybe that's just because of all those Coffin Ed & Gravedigger Jones novels!

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