Short stories are more difficult to master than novels. In order to execute a short story, you must accellerate everything in the story's development - without making it feel rushed. In fact, those short stories that feel "perfect" are often the ones that feel slowed-down - that feel longer than the actual word count or number of pages - in spite of having this accellerated pace. These are the stories that stick with you, that hit you harder than you imagine something so small could.
If you want to reach your goals as a writer, you should mix in some short story reading (and writing) with the regular reading (and writing) you make time for.
Here are three books that master the art of the short story; they are three books every aspiring author should read:
by Flannery O'Connor
The yard around her house looked like a dump and her five girls were always filthy; even the youngest one dipped snuff. Instead of making a garden or washing their clothes, her preoccupation was what she called "prayer healing."
by Raymond Carver
In the kitchen, he poured another drink and looked at the bedroom suite in the front yard. The mattress was stripped and the candy-striped sheets lay beside two pillows on the chiffonier. Except for that, things looked much the way they had in the bedroom - nightstand and reading lamp on her side.
His side, her side.
He considered this as he sipped the whiskey.
by Richard Ford
I knew what love was about. It was about not giving trouble or inviting it. It was about not leaving a woman for the thought of another one. It was about never being in that place you said you'd never be in. And it was not about being alone. Never that. Never that.
Know any good ones I missed?
What are some of your favorite short story collections?
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