I was never one for short stories. Even now I find them kind of hard to get into. But I know there’s value in every form of writing, and I spent a bit of time trying to hone my own short story writing skills, which made me think back to my top five favorite short stories!
1. Leaf: By Niggle by J. R. R. Tolkien
Yep, Tolkien wrote a short story! He needed a break from writing The Lord of the Rings and turned out with the story of a painter who painted the image of a leaf in the most painstaking fashion. He ended up drawing the tree of the leaf, and the trees around that tree, and the valley around those trees, and, well, you get the picture. There’s more to it, of course, but I’ll leave the rest for you to read!
2. The Enduring Chill by Flannery O’Conner
O’Conner’s story have such a distinct, unsettling atmosphere about them. When I read my first O’Conner story, I was so confused as to why people made such a big deal about her, because A Good Man is Hard to Find thoroughly creeped me out. But over time I came to love O’Conner’s powerful voice and life-like stories. The Enduring Chill takes the cake for me, though. It tells the story of a young man returning home from the city thoroughly drained of inspiration and creativity.
3. The Ransom of the Red Chief
This is a story of a little boy captured by two kidnappers. He proceeds to annoy them to death. It’s quite funny.
4. The Forged Coupon by Leo Tolstoy
You know the idea of the snowball effect? That one action leads to another and that one to another and so on? The Forged Coupon is that idea but taken up like twenty notches. It is so neat to see how the actions of each character affects the actions of the next.
5. The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Samuel Clemens
Another silly one! Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, wrote the story of a man who just blathers off the most ridiculous stories to his friend while the latter desperately seeks an escape. It’s, like, five pages of nonsense and I am here for it.
Did you read short stories in school or elsewhere? What are some of your favorites?