Ever so often we read a short story and we are like, man, I wish I had thought of that, or we are so bowled over by the writer who has such a distinct command of the craft, or ...well, you get the point.
Following are ten of the short stories that have influenced me as a writer. I've picked these because I felt that I've learned something fairly profound as a writer from each one. These aren't necessarily my favorite short stories, but something about them resonated with me. Over the next couple of days, I'll be deconstructing these stories, and examining what makes it work, and what influenced me.
I'd love to hear from my writer friends, old and new, about this. Please feel free to post in the comments section, and I really, really will respond. Seriously.
In addition, if I can find online links to the stories, I would love to post them and maybe even have a commentary / discussion on them through the comments section.
Here they are, in no particular order:
"The River" by: Flannery O'Connor
"Happy Endings" by: Margaret Atwood
"The Veldt" by: Ray Bradbury
"Bigfoot Stole My Wife" by: Ron Carlson
"The Birthmark" by: Nathaniel Hawthorne
"Scrabble With God" by: John M. Ford
"Fat" by: Raymond Carver
"Hills Like White Elephants" by: Ernest Hemingway
"The School" by: Donald Barthelme
"It Had Wings" by: Alan Gurganus (from Rocky Mount, btw. I got to meet him. Cool guy. Great writer. Gorgeous voice.)
"Charles" by: Shirley Jackson (of course, "The Lottery" is up there too, but because you always see that listed, I'm listing this one....)
"Nipple" by: Wendy Brenner
BONUS: This next one is a bonus because it is a recent "aha"moment I had as a writer. My friend Nathan Ballingrud won the Shirley Jackson Award for his short story, "The Monsters of Heaven." Knowing Nathan since seventh grade (geez, Nathan, has it been that long?) I've always known he could write, but ---dang! I'm not just putting this up here because he's my friend, but because I seriously, seriously, learned something about the craft from this short story, which we can discuss with later comments these upcoming weeks.