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‘I don’t like short stories’

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Heller McAlpin begins her review for us today by listing the three comments she hears most often as a book critic: “I don’t have time to read,” “I don’t like short stories,” and “I only read nonfiction.” For my money, Heller is exactly on target – or maybe we just meet the same people. All I know is that I hear the exact same things time and again. The second comment: “I don’t like short stories” surprises me because so many of the readers who say this to me are avid consumers of fiction – yet for some reason they don’t care for the short forum.

That’s why it was refreshing to wander onto Literary Network Forums (http://www.online-literature.com) and see the results of their poll asking online readers to indicate their favorite short stories.

Two of my favorite responses were lists:

“The Snowstorm” by Pushkin.

“A lodging for the night” by R.L.Stevenson.

“Two gallants” by Joyce.

“A canary for one” by E.Hemingway.

“The Day We Got Drunk on Cake” by William Trevor

and

I can’t choose just one (the respondent wrote...)

“A White Heron,” Sarah Orne Jewett

“Big Two-Hearted River,” Hemingway

“Fleur” and “Saint Marie,” Louise Erdrich

“Red Leaves,” William Faulkner

“Blackberry Winter,” Robert Penn Warren

“Entropy,” Thomas Pynchon

For anyone who doesn’t like short stories, the above would make an excellent sampler platter, possibly capable of changing some minds. (As might a reading of “Cheating at Canasta.” See Heller’s review for us as well.) But for those who do like short stories, please write and tell us: What do you think are the best?


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