My favorite short stories

In the "Request for Requests," yc asks:

Your favorite short stories (or collections)

Most of the twentieth century greats, such as Cheever and Barthelme, don't much stick with me.  I am a huge fan of Alice Munro and have read most or all of her work (the last collection is good but somewhat below average.)  She is consistently interesting about human nature and its foibles; maybe start here.

From the classics I'll pick Kafka's "A Country Doctor" and lots by Melville.  Borges is a special favorite, especially Ficciones.  Joyce's short stories I admire but don't much enjoy.  I like Poe's "The Gold-Bug" and Hemingway's "Kilimanjaro"  For Chekhov I prefer the mid-length fiction, though this may be a problem of translation.  Tolstoy's "Hadji Murad" might count as a novella.  From Henry James, I would recommend many of the shorter works including "Turn of the Screw" and "The Beast in the Garden."  Isaac Babel.  Some Shirley Jackson.  Mark Twain.  There is much in science fiction and arguably the genre is at its strongest in this medium.

That's a very incomplete answer, but it's what comes to mind right away.


This is a terrific list. I'm partial to Joyce's stories in Dubliners. My new favorite stories are by Peter Beagle, especially in his collection We Never Talk About My Brother--part fantasy, part literary, part science fiction.

Surely that's the wrong way of looking at the Foundation Trilogy? It was a series of short stories (and novellas) which was eventually collected into a trilogy of books. There is a long tradition of these "fix-up novels" in science fiction, of which Foundation is one of the earlier examples.

They cannot match "The Scarlet Letter" but I found Hawthornes'
short stories quite absorbing: miniature mirrors of the novels.
And I would recommend Kingsley Amis' short stories, including "To
See the Sun," his striking version of the vampire legend. Amis
knew his science fiction.

The Master and Margarita is a novel.
Poe, Chejov and Mauppasant.
Hemigway, Melville, and Crane
Borges and Cortazar

I'd definitely add Cortázar to that list. Glad to see Ficciones though, probably my favorite piece of literature.

For those of you looking for something to read *right now*, I recommend Eliezer Yudkowsky's Fan Fiction stories ( Yudkowsky is part of the Overcoming Bias crowd and an AI researcher. All three of the stories are awesome.

Ted Chiang has written some of the best science fiction short stories of the decade. The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate is a particularly clever one.

Link here:

Good list (your distinction between Borges and Joyce rings true to me)! I second the rec. on Hawthorne's stories (my favorite is "P.'s Correspondence" - I like them much better than his novels. SF stories are partly so appealing because of the strength of the puzzle/problem tradition in that genre. I dislike a lot of new short-story writing, but I do have a few recommendations that I think you would find worth your while: Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar's Children is an unbelievably good collection; Yiyun Li, Nathan Englander are both very good; Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners is another must-read. I like Gary Lutz's Stories in the Worst Way, read at least a few of them, they are not everyone's cup of tea but they are definitely remarkable!

A Dog in Dürer’s Etching “The Knight, Death and the Devil† by Marco DeNevi, 1966, an Argentinean insurance broker. The complete text (it's only one sentence long) is at:

The reproduction at that site of the etching that inspired the story is terrible, a decent capture is available at:

And of course, any list of best short stories could not possibly omit "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" (1948) by J.D. Salinger. And probably the list should include many short stories by Harlan Ellison


"Love is a Fallacy" by Max Shulman

If this story doesn't bring a smile to your face then you're Oscar the Grouch.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories are amazing. I enjoy them much more than his novels. A few favorites off the top of my head: Winter Dreams, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, The Off-Shore Pirate, The Ice Palace, May Day, The Diamond As Big As The Ritz, Babylon Revisited.

Excellent list--but I believe the James story is The Beast in the Jungle. I see what you mean about Joyce, but The Dead, though it's not quite a short story, has a truly moving ending, and Huston's film of it (his last) is exceptional--also, oddly, one his best paced.

Andrew Dubus is at the very top of the list. Ready any of his collections, Tyler?

Hemingway - On the Quay at Smyrna

I've always liked T.C. Boyle's "Chicxulub"

Rosellen Brown's "Inter-Office"
by John Biguenet's "And Never Come Up"

Great list.My favorite is Sherwood Anderson's short story.It is a story depicting an individual's personal inner struggle with self-awareness...

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